So far, I have only three pre-programmed radio stations on my car radio. By moving to Washington DC, at a stroke I rendered useless my formerly extensive set of pre-programmed stations, for Los Angeles, the South Bay Area, and the Central Valley respectively. So I erased them all, figuring that another three thousand mile drive was not in my imminent future, and have begun from scratch once more. At present, I have one 'modern' or 'alternative' rock station, one slightly more 'hard' rock station, and NPR. Since my listening habits tend towards switching the station at every commercial, I find myself listening to NPR fairly regularly.
Last week, they were announcing the news, and among the items they mentioned was a speech by a prominent UNICEF official in which he stated that child prostitution was a form of terrorism.
Well. I was so angered that I immediately drove home and composed several angry letters to UNICEF, in which I demanded that they stop blatantly and stupidly misusing the English language. Then I slipped the letters into envelopes I had lettered with newspaper clippings, added several small blocks of C-4, and dropped them in a mailbox.
Okay, I'm lying. I couldn't be bothered to stop what I was doing and drive home just to tell UNICEF, or this particular official at any rate, what scum-feeding bottom-dwellers I suddenly considered them to be. In all seriousness, they won't be seeing a dime from me for years, solely because of this incident. And I had heretofore considered UNICEF, when I considered it at all that is, to be a fairly worthwhile institution. Now they appear to me to be run by Darth Vader, and that's on their good days.
I despise people who misuse language to seem important. Before now, the most frequent leech-raping miscreants were the users of the word 'genocide'. It got to the point where anyone who was doing, or was not doing, anything at all in relation to some ethnic, religious, or any other sort of group was committing genocide. Siezing power in a coup d'etat? Genocide. Not giving AIDS patients free medicine? Genocide. Re-locating poor families from substandard housing? Genocide. Genocide, genocide, genocide. If the speaker didn't like it, it was genocide. I'm surprised children didn't start claiming genocide when sent to be without dessert.
Of course, the reason that these cloaca-sucking pederasts were crying Genocide all the accursed time was because it was the 'bad' word. It was the worst thing you could do, at least at that time and for the Western Guilt audience, so if you really really thought you were important (and all of these uterine-infected pus-gobblers think they are the most important people, ever), you used the word Genocide as often and as loudly as possible. It was like heroin-addicted mice hitting the big red button for another hit. 'Pay attention to me!', they shout. 'Nothing else can possibly be as important!'
Of course, this required stretching or more frequently totally ignoring the actual fact that their issue had nothing whatsoever to do with Genocide. 'Genocide' is a very specific term, with a very specific meaning. It requires the deliberate attempt to eliminate through murder every last one of a particular ethnic group. Failing to act cannot constitute genocide. Acting in such a way that is not, technically, murdering people is not genocide. Failing to support the *u**ing arts is not genocide!
And to be totally honest, it also bothers me that words like 'genocide' suddenly become Big Bad Words. Genocide is evil, yes, but to rank it above other evils is both wrong and offensive. Pol Pot, who murdered millions of his countrymen, did not commit genocide. Is he less evil than if he were to have wiped out, say, the native inhabitants of Celebes, who number in the hundreds of thousands? Are human lives worth more when they are ethnically rare? Genocide is just a particular type of mass murder, and to suddenly place it on a special pedestal is dehumanizing to both the victims of non-genocidal murders and the people who label it as more important.
But back to my point. Since September eleventh, 'terrorism' has become the new 'really, really bad' buzzword. It's started to crop up everywhere; the first misuse, of course, was from those who said 'Oh no, it's the United States who is committing/abetting terrorism, by doing (insert disapproved of act here).' But it's going to seep over into all aspects of social and political commentary, and be used by issue-focused firebrands the world over. I hate them all already.
Sadly enough, it's not that I disagree with them. Usually, quite the contrary, as in the case of UNICEF. Child prostitution, spawning as it does from coercion, is a terrible, terrible thing, and cries out to be eliminated. But it is most distinctly not 'terrorism'. And to use that word solely as an attention-grabber, as an ignorant person's way of shouting at people they assume to be ignorant, is as I have observed both wrong and terribly insulting. It implies that the speaker is unable to use the language correctly to convey the gravity of the issue upon which they are speaking, and it assumes that the audience is ignorant or uncaring enough to not recognize the problem in correct language and therefore need to be, and should be, mislead.
I will not be giving UNICEF any money for years because of this incident. And since you ask, I have only given UNICEF funds once before, several years ago, but now were they to come to my door and ask for my aid they would not receive it. And the same goes for any group, even ones near to my heart such as environmental groups, which misuse the language in such an insulting fashion.
Not that this is going to stop people. Wait for it. When this administration takes the next step the dissenting voices don't like, the word you'll hear will be 'terrorism'.
And the other sound you'll hear will be me, grinding my teeth.
- Sun Ra
Columns by Sun Ra