You know how, when there’s been a mass shooting somewhere in the United States, people check in on social media to let loved ones and relatives know they’re okay? People like my friend in Dayton, Ohio, who this morning on Facebook announced himself present and accounted for after last night’s shooting at Ned Pepper’s Bar.
Mass shootings have begun to touch even those of us living hundreds or thousands of miles away. The people checking in safe are people we know. And how long before some white domestic terrorist with an AR-15 starts shooting strangers in Tucson, and I’m the one checking in safe?
I wish I had something sensible to say. Oh wait, I do. Outlaw the sale of semi-automatic rifles and handguns and large magazines, and follow through by buying back or confiscating those already in circulation. Then, if white male assholes resort to committing mass murder with single-shot rifles and handguns, take those away too. If I become king, there’ll be gun confiscation units on every corner, and too effing bad.
An exchange I saw on Twitter this morning has me thinking:
These guys have a point. Don’t know about you, but the only civilians I see open-carrying weapons are MAGA-hat types, the ones itching for an excuse to shoot black- and brown-skinned people or former wives and girlfriends. If tyranny comes to America they won’t be the resistance … they’ll be the ones cheering it on.
I responded with an observation of my own:
Guys with guns. There’s your problem, America, right there.
Long as I’m ranting, here’s something that triggers my inner reactionary:
You may or may not be aware of the gendered pronoun debate, but over on the PC left large numbers of sincere people are looking for ways to eliminate gender when referring to others, so that we’re all equal. A worthy goal, surely.
In the real world, though, most of us still use gendered pronouns, and I doubt we’ll ever stop. The announcement in question is addressed to attendees at a conference, asking them to wear preferred pronoun stickers along with their name labels so other attendees will know whether they want to be referred to as he/him, she/her, or they/them. There’s a lot of this going around, and I’ve noticed increasing numbers of Twitter and Facebook users including preferred pronouns in their profiles.
I don’t buy arguments that because one can find historical examples of people using the singular they, it’s okay to use it now. If I’m talking or writing about individual people, I use him and her. If I don’t want to identify a person’s gender, there are ways around using gendered pronouns that don’t involve the singular they. Folks, it ain’t that hard. ‘The child shook his rattle.” “The child shook a rattle.” Both of those look and sound fine. “The child shook their rattle” will always look and sound illiterate, at least to anyone who grew up speaking English, and I don’t give a rat’s ass if Shakespeare once said it.
Note also that the announcement is specifically addressed to “Cis attendees.” What is this “cis”? It’s a word from chemistry for atoms on the same side of a given plane in a molecule. In genderspeak, cis is a shortened form of “cisgendered,” meaning a person who identifies with the sex he or she was born as. Cis is sometimes combined with heterosexual, as in “cishet,” referring to non-trans people who are attracted to the opposite sex. In other words, normal men and women. Presumably LGBTQ conference attendees don’t have to be told to wear preferred pronoun stickers, but straight attendees do.
I’ve been observing, at a distance, a 1984-ish newspeak push to abolish the concept of “normal” in discussions of gender and sexual identity. Because if there is a normal, then the 5% who identify as LGBTQ are by definition abnormal, and no one wants to be belittled that way. Sure, I can see that. Who wants to be thought of as abnormal? Sexual oppression is built into the very language we speak, and wouldn’t it be nice if we could change that?
But the fact is that straight people are the norm and always will be, and feeble attempts to put labels like “cis” or “cishet” on us—labels that sound like they belong under the LGBTQ umbrella—or to get us to think of ourselves as they instead of he and she, are simply ludicrous. How many straight people do you know who refer to themselves as “cis” in day-to-day speech, or want you to refer to them as other than “him” or “her”?
Better we teach ourselves, and our children, not to think of others as normal and abnormal, and instead think of our fellow humans as diverse, with a range of sexual preferences and gender identities, and just accept the lot. Pedos excepted, of course, and users of the singular they.
I guess I should leaven all this yelling a clouds with local color and personal news. Donna’s beloved Uncle George, the last of her mother’s siblings, is now in his last days and she’s flying to California Tuesday on a one-way ticket, return date to be announced. I’ll be on my own with Polly and the dogs for a week at least. I’ll have to try hard not to kick Polly out of the house … I’ve become increasingly impatient with her laziness and lack of ambition, and Donna’s been the peace-maker.
A month or so back, a neighbor’s garage caught on fire. The sound of car tires blowing inside the garage woke him up and the fire department got there in time to put it out before it spread to the house. This neighbor’s house is hidden from our street by brush, but you can see the roof from the highway nearby, and one day driving home I saw a pagoda-like kink at the end of his roof. That’s when I first learned about the fire. Two days ago heavy construction equipment rolled up our street, and I walked Mister B to the end of the cul-de-sac to trespass on the neighbor’s driveway and see what was up.
His garage is down now, soon to be rebuilt. Fortunately for us, houses in our subdivision were built with separate garages, connected by breezeways, and that’s what saved this house. Tell you what, though, every night since I learned about his misfortune, I’ve gone out to our garage to check it over before going to bed. One more damn thing to add to the endless list of homeowner worries, I guess.
© 2019, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.