Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

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The Lexicographers…..

June 21, 2014

and other casters of stone # one….

I have been known to offer uncomplimentary remarks about the Word Police upon occasion, and about how the concepts of manners and courtesy have been blown so far out of proportion that I sometimes wonder if Cotton Mather has been reincarnated as the inspired, inerrant, infallible official Lexicographer for our society. Instead of ordained agents peeking through windows to ensure that everybody has gone to church as required, however, our twenty first century pucker-butts focus on matters of vocabulary to ensure that everyone remains obediently within the Approved Parameters of permissible attitudes, beliefs, and opinions as reflected in their speech. The use of forbidden verbiage is considered prima facie evidence of contemplating forbidden categories of “hate”. While it is permissible to “hate” members of the opposing political party, communists, and asparagus, choosing not to be fond of, or to not even give half a crap about another person for any reason included on the Official List of Politically Incorrect intellectual lawn cookies, and having the audacity to verbalize those sentiments, is nothing short of twenty first century heresy.

We are so hyper vigilant about such matters, that even the designated “good guys” have to use code to report what the designated “bad guys” have said. Remember the “OK” words you were taught to use as a kid when discussing certain appendages and body functions? It’s reminiscent of those days, except instead of such cryptic references as pee pee, number two, and others too silly to mention, we now rely on such camouflage as “The N Word” to say things without actually saying them. In fact, in addition to the example just given, virtually any reference to topics involving race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity must be made with great caution, preferably in code or by squeaky-clean metaphor. At the same time, utterances that would have earned me a soap sandwich as a youth (and did) can now be enjoyed in the raw any night of the week on Prime Time television fare. The iconic “F bomb” still requires a symbolic “beep”, however.

I thought this phenomenon was pretty much a quirk of the United States, but I was wrong.

I enjoy some sports but I don’t love any of them with the appropriately demonstrative, rabid, and noisy intensity expected of the American Male. I did notice and raise my eyebrows, however, when the American soccer team upset the Ghana soccer team recently at a FIFA World Cup Brazil match. In other parts of the world, soccer is a religion, but we tend to express our pathologies of that sort over American style football, basketball, and baseball. So I read the story.

I also noticed the story a few days later when Mexico, having played their own FIFA World Cup matches against Brazil and Camaroon, had become the subject of “disciplinary proceedings” by FIFA because their fans had badmouthed their opponents. Whoa!

So, apparently the cultural aberration of word anxiety is not limited to the USA after all, because FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the local ruling authority in soccer circles), is all puckered to the point of being nearly inside out over the politically, morally, philosophically Incorrrect enthusiasm of Mexican fans during their matches.

It seems the fans, fired up and passionate, as soccer fans are genetically programmed to be, chanted a naughty word en espanol during the usual “talkin’ trash” phases of the games, apparently using the term “puto” in reference to their opponents. “Puto” is impolite, at best, in any Hispanic dialect but roughly translates as “whore” in Mexican Spanish. I chuckled at first, but then it occurred to me that death and dismemberment in the stands has been standard operating procedure in the soccer universe for ages so I wondered at their emulation of United States type behaviors in response to a mere insult.

And then I read FIFA’s official “position” on such matters, namely discrimination.

First of all, since the soccer matches were being played in Brazil where prostitution is legal, I found the complaint to be somewhat incongruous. Heck, in the United States there are more than two and a half times as many people working for the federal government as there are “putos” in Brazil. Secondly, it wasn’t a case of slander or libel because the references were generalized to the nth degree and no direct or personal finger pointing was involved. American football fans have been known to dress up in body paint and weird costumes to loudly encourage their home teams to “slaughter ’em“, but I have yet to hear about any complaints of conspiracy to commit murder.

Nevertheless, killing somebody and hurting their feelings are different animals here in the USA, as they apparently have become in the world of international soccer as well. I was amazed at the FIFA statement about “discrimination”:

“FIFA takes a firm, zero-tolerance stance against any form of discrimination and racism and this is enshrined in the FIFA Statutes in article 3 which stipulates that: ‘Discrimination of any kind against a Country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion’.”

Holy cow! (with apologies to agnostic bovines) Their parameters for allegations of discrimination or racism don’t leave much wiggle room for suggesting to someone that you don’t have so much as the same favorite ice cream flavor they have, or that you simply don’t like them, unless one plays dumb and claims the negative emotion arose spontaneously and for no reason whatsoever.

This morning I noticed another report about the globally popular World Cup competition. It seems Mexican fans once again disturbed the fabric of the universe, this time by casting aspersions on the masculinity of the opposing team’s goalie. The “offending” word was not revealed, but I’d bet pesos to tacos I know what it was, because I once tried out a newly acquired piece of vocabulary on my Cuban friend Rufino when I was in college down in Florida back in the sixties and I was lucky to escape with my life.

Considering FIFA’s dictatorial approach to vocabularies, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, shoe sizes, and favorite vegetables of anyone aspiring to play soccer on their turf, a similar scenario played out today would have Rufino calling his lawyer and a half dozen bureaucracies, with litigation and court mandated atonements in mind, instead of chasing my scared little butt across campus and off through the palmettos by moonlight with rearranging my facial furniture in mind.

As with similar situations here at home, I question references to discrimination and racism as they are meant in the present day sense. We’re not talking about “back of the bus” mandates or any of the other “Jim Crow” laws of the pre-nineteen sixties here. We’re not talking about blatant refusals to employ, to admit to schools, or neighborhoods where one cannot purchase a home. We’re not talking about lynching and beating incidents. Essentially, what began as a campaign to correct some egregious wrongs and denials of the rights declared by the Constitution to apply to all citizens, has mutated from a Civil Rights movement to the establishment of an authority to monitor proscribed words and behaviors which may be construed to imply a mindset of concrete plans to commit vile acts if not so monitored.

Bad news, ladies and gentlemen. It has always been a quirk of reality that some people just don’t like some other people, for various reasons, which may or may not make sense, and I strongly suspect that this is never going to change. People have taken turns practicing behaviors ranging from protruding tongues to genocide in an effort to dictate universalism or to act out our genetically mandated sense of territorialism seemingly forever. It never works out. The underdogs eventually manage to come up with a few sharp sticks and some throwing stones of their own, and they do the role reversal thing. That doesn’t work out either. The only opportunity for a real change of course is enjoyed by the faction already on top and therefore having no reason or desire to change.

 

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