Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Another in an endless series of language kerfuffles has broken out, this time over using the common phrase ”chink in the armor” in a sentence involving a Chinese basketball player.  As is often the case, I think this is an example of people of a certain political stripe reading racism into a statement when it ws not really there, and certainly not intended.

Be that as it may, such political correctness can actually be detrimental to the cause of equality because of the Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome. But there really are times when parlance becomes an epithet intended to dehumanize, degrade, demean, and oppress, making it much easier to discriminate, oppress, exploit, objectify, and even kill the victim targets.  We can all think of them.  The N-word.  Yes, the C-word to describe Asians. The other C-word wielded as a misogynist hammer against women.  The K-word for people of a Jewish persuasion.  The F-word for homosexual men.

But there is one similar epithet wielded all too easily: The V-word used to describe people with profound cognitive impairments.  We need to be clear that no human being is a carrot or a rutabaga.  So, while it is important to watch our tongues, because they reflect our hearts, please, let’s erase the V-word from the acceptable lexicon.  After all, the millions of helpless people around the world who, due to injury, illness, or other bodily insult can’t interact with others, are simply people too.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles