Of course he is. My post was, as I wrote quite intentionally, “a side note”. I was simply commenting on the fact that the mere mention of a word (“pygmy” in this case) which at least some people associate with racism is enough to set off lots of emotions and reactions in some circles.
I made the observation because it related to the combustibility of non-racist (but potentially perceived as racist) ideas which we discussed in another thread about Easter of 2017.
Of course he is. How is that not obvious to all?
No. Certainly not. (Are you certain you carefully read what I wrote?)
I made no attempt at redefining the word. I have no “terms” of my own in the casual post. I simply anticipated that some readers—if there were a wider audience here—might immediately react to any use of the word “pygmy” as allegedly racism-tinged word. Yes, that would be an absurd charge, especially in jongarvey’s context but absurdity has never stopped emotive people from over-reactions.
As a linguist with many interesting experiences in lexicography, I’m simply looking back over a lifetime of observing the word “pygmy” go through various stages of societal acceptance.
I get the impression you were reading far too much into a brief and casual anecdote of how a word has gone in and out of favor within “polite society”.
Absolutely! Amen to that.
By the way [This is another side-note.] these topics related to the emotions which words can generate, and how they are perceived very differently by various groups, bring to mind one of my favorite examples:
Some years ago a Jewish university student got into all sorts of trouble (and huge legal costs) when a group of African-American sorority members were engaged in some sort of initiation celebration outside of his dorm window while he was studying. He opened his window and shouted at them something like, “Quiet down, you BEHEMOTHS!” He was disciplined by the university for “racism”. Of course, the Jewish student was shocked at this charge because it is quite common for a Yiddish person (for example) to use this Hebrew word (a word found in the Bible, as Ken Ham keeps reminding us) when referring to someone who is being boisterous and loud. But the sorority and the university claimed that calling the young ladies BEHEMOTH was calling them “animals” and therefore demeaning and racist. Most of all, they considered his conduct “insensitive” to the plight of a minority. One administrator even claimed that his motive was to associate the sorority members with “African animals”. This amazed more than a few people because nobody had dreamed that the BEHEMOTH was somehow uniquely associated with Africa!
Just a few weeks ago I had to encourage a senior pastor to educate his youth minister, who had told an unfortunate story during the “children’s church” portion of the worship service. The thirty-something gentleman described some incident at age 8 where he was guilty of being “an Indian-giver!” I had assumed that the Millennial generation would be far more sensitive to such terms than my own generation, but the young African-American youth minister who told the story was genuinely oblivious to the historical injustices and absurdity behind the term. (To my knowledge there were no Native Americans in the congregation and, fortunately, no ruckus resulted from the incident.)
I also recall a city council meeting in Louisiana which got a lot of news coverage after emotions erupted when some elected official made the statement that some department of the city was “a financial black hole, where money goes in but never comes out.” There were impassioned protests about “the obvious racism behind the phrase!”
I find the various emotions behind words very interesting. Determining the line between inappropriate and appropriate uses of words (and between being “rightly offended” versus being “too easily offended”) is not always easy.