The Pen Is Mightier…

I said earlier this week I’m not naturally snarky. That doesn’t mean that things don’t rub me wrong and get me angry. And I am very angry right now. I have been watching a swelling tide of articles about people who are attempting to use language as a weapon. They have grasped the old saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” wrong way round and they don’t have a clue about what they are doing with it.

It starts with this. A professor is accused of racism for correcting student’s papers. The students, unhappy with this relatively mild critique of their work, staged a sit-in, even recruiting a nationally-known author to partake with them. One wonders if she read their papers and was tempted to whip out a red pen, or if she just saw the red flag of racism and charged. I have heard of students crying when confronted with a poor grade, but this is ridiculous. Suck it up, kids, we all make mistakes. You’re supposed to learn from them, though, not throw temper tantrums. Oh, and the papers? These are graduate students in an education program, writing proposals for dissertations. I would think spelling corrections on your life’s work would be a kindness.

Then this article hit me in the face like a cold, week-dead fish. I had kind of ignored the person who commented on an article I wrote a while back (The Genderless Mind) who told me he thought gender was a social construct. Sorry, no. You are born one thing, or another, and it’s not a choice. Biology is inescapable, my dear child. Stop trying to manipulate the language to fit what you want it to say. You can be a special snowflake in your own writing, while the rest of us try not to giggle out loud at your pretensions. Surely you don’t think you are the first rebel generation?

Another case of manipulation came to my attention gradually. I’ve known for most of my life that the uses of “man,” “mankind,” and “he” were falling out of favor for what they were intended, as general words for humanity. Unlike many other languages, English hasn’t got feminine and masculine endings to words, so we compromised on those, which now, it is said, means that we are promoting men over women. Oh, grow up. Anyone who isn’t looking for a reason to be offended knows what they mean, and it’s a fifty-fifty split between men and women on this planet. But now, there’s another word I keep seeing, and I finally had to look it up. “Cismale” is, evidently, a guy who was born that way, likes it, and stays that way. Often linked with gendernormative, another nonsense word, and fascist, when used by internet trolls.

This is where the double-edged sword comes in, and starts to cut those who are so enthusiastically grabbing onto these concepts. You see, normal people think of themselves as male, or female. People who opt to change their bodies to match how they see themselves in their own head don’t want to be called abnormal, they too are working for “male or female” and by creating all the odd terms, the perpetually peeved are othering them, as well. Division only creates barriers, fear, and suspicion. There’s enough of that already.

All this is confusing to everyday people, who all shake their heads and back away slowly when you come near them, and now you know why. You’re making those who want to live normal lives suffer, so you can throw your temper-tantrums. I really liked this from a recent discussion of cismale, “we offered a class called digital photography. What do they call it today? Photography. When something becomes normative, the adjectives, modifiers and prefixes disappear. At least they should. Its a matter of clarity. It is obvious that heterosexual behavior is normative. When you add a modifier to a normative word, you are not adding clarity, you are destroying it, intentionally.” So if you are confused what to call someone, try male, or female. Anything else is a cultural construct, and useless for any intelligent discussion.

Coming back around to the first article, the little boy who cried wolf is obviously no longer read aloud to children. Perhaps it has been replaced with a little girl who embraces her hairy moon-howling brother (and does he sparkle in the sun? Oh, mixing my metaphors). Those who decry racism with such vigor are not only diluting any real issues, they are often committing the very act they accuse. Whenever I see the term “person of color” I cringe. When I look at a person, I see a person, not a color. This, I believe, is the idea. If we are all equal, then why do people like this persist in twisting language to suit what they want to say, which is that the poor people of color can’t fend for themselves, they must have assistance to get that equality? That blog post is so wrong on so many levels it isn’t even funny. It’s like one of those comedy movies that is so stupid I have to hide my face and plug my ears if I’m not allowed to leave the room.

Writing needs to be about understanding language at a level that enables our readers to understand it as well. I enjoy learning new words as much as the next person. I don’t enjoy watching language become a vehicle for the agenda du jour, driven by ignorant people who are doing more harm to their own causes than they can possibly comprehend. It’s obvious to the rest of us that they are, like Winnie the Pooh, “of very little brain,” and it is time to put our foot down and say no. The tantrums need to stop, and until you have learned what that word really means, please don’t use it.



  1. Yeah, “people of color” bugs me as well. Especially as it’s OK but “colored people” is racist. [Frown]

      1. Yep, “people of color” is as racist as “colored people” so both should be dropped.

        1. Well, you still need to use some kind of term for reducing the word count when describing an individual. What bothers me is the progression of the terms being called “racist”, as most of them have, at one time or another, been the very terms demanded to be used in place of the previous term, due to the previous term being, “racist”.

          In the 60s, it was Negro that “must be changed” to Black. In the 80s, Black became the new “racist” word, and we must change to “colored”, in the 90s, “colored” became “racist”, and had to be changed to “people of color”, and now it’s “African American”.

          1. IIRC “Colored People” predates “Black” and may predate “Negro”. It was the polite term when “nigger” was commonly used.

            Remember that the full name of NAACP is “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” and it was founded in 1909.

            1. Sure, but I was referring to only my (and my parents – I wasn’t old enough to care in the 60s) observation of terms specifically referred to as “racist”, and the terms which we were implored to use instead of the racist term of the decade. The others were in use at the time, but we weren’t being told that “this is the only acceptable descriptive term”.

            2. It was certainly current in Victorian times

              Before I went to America I always thought the expression “coloured people” was as fantastic as a fairy-tale; it sounded as if some of the people were peacock- green and others a rich mauve or magenta. I supposed that it was either a sort of joke or else a sort of semi-ironical euphemism or parody of politeness. But when I went there, I found that it was simply a dull description of fact. These people really are all colours; at least, they are all shades of one colour. There must be many more coloured people than there are black people. G. K. Chesterton

          2. that’s not “bothersom” wayne. that’s gross stupidity and elitism that is rage inducing on a grand scale. Put it another way, it puts me in mind of hanging these people up over a shark tank full of sharks in a bloodlust caused by me chumming the water first.

    1. POC (people/person of color) always reminds me of ‘pock’. Besides, the old English spelling for pock seems to have been ‘poc’.

      Not perhaps the association the people who invented that definition were going for.

          1. It is from a series called The Empire of Man series by John Ringo and David Weber, also known as the March Series. One of the characters has a strong accent. Pic is big, wrench is wrench, the pocking stands in for an vulger word in English. Which is an obvious one to native English speakers

                1. I like Ringo, but I tend to read him in patches, I’ll wait until there are several new books, then buy, read and wait a few years until I do that again.

                  BTW, he once took my name as a potential redshirt, so if any of you who read him more regularly come across a woman with a Finnish name could you please tell me?

      1. Too true, the definition the people who coined POC were really going for is “Everyone except those terrible, horrible, nasty racist white people, which I insist I am not one of even if I’m a Massachusetts WASP going to Harvard.”

  2. *shrug* A collapse, partial and temporary or more permanent is coming due to our own stupidity so…while it irritates the hell out of me personally? I figure those folk will be among the first useful idiots to die. A thought that gives me giggle fits about as often as their willful stupidity gives me high blood pressure.
    As for those who cry and use the word racism all the time? an excerpt from a recent rant of mine.
    “Race? What is race? Good question.
    Here’s the short answer. It’s a massive crockpot full of shit on high temp that’s stinking up the whole house and a misnomer.”

  3. While I agree with most of what Cedar has written here, I think she missed something in the quite natural fury about language being used as a weapons. (I also don’t know which particular articles have been the final irritants this week, so I’m [perhaps wrongly] guessing she’s seen the same sorts of things that I’ve seen.) Okay I’ve claimed enough caveats, on to the point.

    Words vary in meaning depending on context. From my own personal horror, take the word abortion. I’d really like it if every single pregnancy anywhere resulted in a healthy well cared for human child. But in my own reproductive history I miscarried twins a couple years ago. When I went to the hospital for all the horrid bleeding, the bill called what I had “abortion, spontaneous.” I hated seeing that word used in relation to a pregnancy I had dearly wanted, but it was (and is) the medical world’s term for what happened in my body.

    Gender is anther word that has multiple meanings. It is really helpful for sociologists to be able write about “gender under the Taliban” without continually explaining that yes they know trousers don’t destroy the uterus, but that in their studies these are the “socially constructed” rules they found the culture had applied to the sexes.

    And because sociologists have their meanings for their terms of art, those meanings are going to sneak into general use also. There’s gong to be fights about that. I think there should be. But I also think that this sharing of words between technical terms and common use language is a sign a strong culture full of educated people. Let the friends of sociologists talk with the friends of electrical engineers. I submit that all this interaction is good for those of us trying to use words to communicate and story tell to broad audiences.

    1. I’m very aware that words have both connotation and denotation, and connotation… drifts. As for your loss, my deepest sympathies. I have had nightmares about that for years, but never a confirmed occurence.

      As for gender under the Taliban, there is more than male and female?

      1. IMO, in the context that J. P. was commenting on, there is only “male and female” with gender.

        1. The great irony here is that, properly, “gender” isn’t “male” or “female”, but “masculine”, “feminine”, or “neuter”. Words, you see, have “gender”. (Boy, do they ever, in most Western languages…whereas in English,. with the exception of a tiny handful of pronouns and a few terms for male or female animals which are rapidly falling completely into archaic disuse, they mostly don’t.) _People_ (and, for that matter, animals) have “sex”.

          So when they say “gender is socially constructed”, they’re actually almost correct…at least if they say it in French or Spanish or German or Latin or…(you get my point). The notion that tables are feminine is completely and utterly arbitrary. But it doesn’t mean anything like what they seem to think it means. Because the notion that humans with two X chromosomes are female isn’t arbitrary at all.

      2. [More caveats: I am not a trained sociologist. I just had to do a lot of research about culture in Afghanistan at one point and ended up assigned the role of translating the tech terms to something US military captains and colonels understood. So I’m probably missing a lot of nuance. Here’s what I think I know:]

        Yes. But male and female aren’t the technical terms for gender- those are just sex. For gender related stuff, the coalition military had a lot of unexpected problems in previously Taliban controlled areas that can be traced back to (in polite terms) not understanding gender under the Taliban or (in impolite terms) people being extreme brutes.

        Example: So a woman is walking alone and some US military folks give her a lift into town. She wants to get off on the outskirts of town, but they insist of taking her all the way home. (US gender rules – polite guys see the girl all the way home.) The next day they patrol through the same town and find her body. (Taliban gender rules – a girl seen in the company of non-family has become a prostitute and should be killed to redeem family/tribe honor.) [A note about this example – This one gets cited a lot in reconstruction discussions, but I haven’t actually been able to track it down to a documented and verified true case.]

        Another gender thing that came up from time to time were some things that didn’t translate well to US ways of seeing gender. Apparently within one tribe, a person born a woman who dressed as a man and never presented herself as a sexual being (no marriage, no dating anyone) was accepted in society as something other than feminine and allowed to hold jobs normally reserved for only men. (There was a name for this kind of woman that the sociologist reporting used. I don’t remember it. It wasn’t English.) Also in some tribes there was the group of young men who would were eyeliner, date older men wealthy enough to provide for them but not wealthy enough to afford a wife. In the US both the young men and the older men would be considered homosexual. But the locals would insist that no one was gay, because the intent was to eventually become well off enough to acquire a wife and produce children in a heterosexual marriage with as many wives as could be acquired. (A different sociologist wrote the report about this one. It didn’t get into trying to list different ways gender could be sliced and diced. It was just describing the practice and warning US policy makers against assuming sameness in gender perspectives in the US and Afghanistan.)

        1. You’re conflating the issue here. What you are talking about are the social rules created by a culture, not gender itself. You also refer to words that don’t translate to English that define those roles. We have them in English, although, again, the connotation of some has shifted. Spinster, for instance, has fallen from favor.

          Roles in life are chosen, certainly. But applying words like “cismale” willy-nilly (and look up where that term comes from for a full understanding of what I’m saying) to the general public is worse than useless, it is divisive and pushes people away. The whole realm of “gender studies” is misguided at best, detrimental at worst.

          gen·der (jndr)
          1. Grammar
          a. A grammatical category used in the classification of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and, in some languages, verbs that may be arbitrary or based on characteristics such as sex or animacy and that determines agreement with or selection of modifiers, referents, or grammatical forms.
          b. One category of such a set.
          c. The classification of a word or grammatical form in such a category.
          d. The distinguishing form or forms used.
          2. Sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture.
          a. The condition of being female or male; sex.
          b. Females or males considered as a group:

          1. Ah but the problem is that sociologists do define gender to be something created by culture. The general public mostly doesn’t.

      3. On words having connotataion and denotation – Yes. I know you know these things. I apologize for writing in a way that implied I thought you didn’t.

        1. J.P. I think what you’ve shown is what happens when a useful technical term, in this case “gender” as used specifically to describe cultural patterns related to males and females, gets snarfed up by the semi-educated-non-specialist and the activist, run through a media blender a few times, then reintroduced to a different “academic” field with dismaying results. A bit like “quantum.” A word that first meant a very,very tiny change in energy state that in modern pop culture now means a giganormous [is too a word] leap/change/alteration.

          1. Wait, I thought “quantum” meant “ah, I should apply handwavium to this thing which does not make sense after being explained four times.”

    2. Heh. I spent 6 years in the Navy, working with nuclear reactors on subs. I LOVE twisting words or using alternate meanings/definitions, and playing on public misconceptions. My favorite is, when people ask me if living on subs was tough, to reply with “well, it was tight at times, but nothing as stressful as working around a reactor that routinely goes supercritical.” Which is God’s honest truth.

      For the record, a reactor that’s producing constant power is “critical”. When increasing power, the reactor is “supercritical” until you get to the target power level and stabilize the output, at which point its just “critical” again. Lowering power? Yup. “Subcritical”. An ET1 I worked with was able to play this to a whole ‘nudder level: he had alopecia pretty bad and was missing hair in patches. If anyone didn’t believe him about the “supercritical”, he’d just take off his ballcap.

      Yes. Submariners EARN our reputation for having a very warped sense of humor.

  4. I am old enough to remember when the ostensible goal of the civil rights movement was to engender a culture in which all human beings were treated the same. These days the cultural revisionists don’t even pretend that they want anything other than special privileges for favored special interest groups, enforced by the full weight of the law.

  5. I heard a brilliant observation on a radio show this week.

    We are told by all the Right People that gender is a social construct, that little boys and little girls would be exactly the same if we treated them the same. Any differences are societally imposed, and we can (and should) condition them to shed gender differences.

    We are also told — usually by the same Right People — that homosexuality is innate and natural and immutable, and any attempt to change that makes you a cousin to Josef Mengele.

    And these Right People cannot see the absurd contradictions in their positions.

    1. I’d love to take trip through time and introduce those people to mengele, live and in the flesh. might “enlighten” them a bit, as it were. probably due to the loss of several pounds of flesh and vital internal organs….

  6. So, basically, if we no longer have the words to talk about something, it no longer exists? We wouldn’t have racism anymore if there weren’t any words for race?

    They might be using words as weapons, but it sounds like you’re advocating disusing words as sympathetic voodoo magic.

    1. Words for race? Since when do black, brown, taupe, or whatever we aren’t allowed to use this week refer to actual race? They refer to skin color, which has nothing to do with someone’s cultural, ethnic, or any other background than a specific phenotypic expression. I’m saying we need to stop lumping people according to color and treat them as equal individuals.

      Also, I’m advocating not adding silly words only intended to push a specific and very limited social agenda, like cismale.

      1. The names used for different races are useful for one thing, as an easy way to start describing how somebody looks. Plus for some health issues. And that’s about it.

      2. But these longer complicated circumlocutions end up making it worse. E.g. you have taxi drivers in NYC from Jamaica (or Somalia) who don’t like being called “African American” because they either don’t think they are African or don’t think they are American. And contrariwise you have white people from South Africa (or Zimbabwe or ..) who have become American and who therefore technically are “African Americans” but other people get all upset when they point this out

        1. Yes, I ran into this with my Latin Lit. class, where I pointed out, and then was validated by reading that those labeled this way don’t like it either, that calling everyone “Latin” or “hispanic” was taking away their individual or even cultural differences. Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban… all very different, and not necessarily wanting to be lumped together.

          1. And then there was the case in the Olympics a few years back where the sports reporters were discussing “the first African-American swimmer from Korea”. They were embarrassed to say it that way, but they didn’t know how else to say it.

              1. Might not have been a swimmer. It was at least two Olympic cycles back, so I’m fuzzy on the details. But it was a dark-skinned African-descended athlete (but aren’t we all African-descended) competing on a Korean team; and they declared this person to be African-American, because their style book won’t let them say the ‘b’ word.

    2. Who said anything about not discussing something? Using the language properly and not twisting the meaning out of shape is the point here. You defended this progressive twadle before. KLearn the language, don’t lie with it

    3. Chris “racism” is misnomer. An enormous crock of crap sold to us by snake oil salesman, con artists etc, Whose only purpose is to keep us at each others throats so they can, in the heat of the moment and the height of emotion…steal us blind. Of our money, our time, our sanity and our humanity. personally I think they should all be put up against the wall, but that’s me.
      What everyone calls “race” is in fact “tribe” So what you/we witness every day is differences of opinion between tribes…and those kind of fights have been around since man decided to go a different way than our ape ancestors and come out of the trees. I don’t think Cedar or anyone else is advocating “disusing words as sympathetic voodoo magic”. Simply stop making up words to create division and call a bloody spade a spade for crying out loud.

  7. Full disclosure, two of my four children are insisting they are transgendered. I’ve had this conversation. It’s the one “orientation” that bases a person’s happiness on their ability to coerce others to participate. Nothing that depends on others for your happiness is ever going to work. I’ve had this conversation. My generation tried so hard to destroy the boxes that people felt oppressed by, that felt they didn’t fit within. This new generation has solved the problem by constructing endless tiny boxes, far more restrictive, and you’ve got to chose one of them and squeeze yourself into it. If you don’t fit, you demand that everyone else build you a smaller box.

    From the article: “At the same time, Ferris thinks it’s a mistake for scholars and grammarians to dismiss the trend without considering whether English and society might be served by less-rigid ideas about gender.”

    Note that we aren’t talking about a “less-rigid” idea about gender. We’re talking about having a dozen or so specific terms that are far more rigid than “male” and “female” since neither of those now *move* enough to fit everyone within. Men don’t come in a range from lumberjacks to suave, and women don’t come in a range from frilly to farm girl. Everything is *less* malleable. Not more.

    The article: “Mail carrier did not evolve organically and it’s a lot easier to say mailman. Decades ago there were poets who refused to be called poetesses,” she said. “Most language has evolved organically, but there have been times — and when it comes to issues of gender there probably have to be times — when there are people willing to push the envelope.”

    Which example ignores that “mail carrier” is not more specific, it’s less specific. And not liking “poetess” is taking the male title of poet and using it for everyone. This is not examples of taking “mailman” and insisting on four different versions that specify the mail carrier’s preferred gender.

    The equivalent isn’t adding pronouns, it’s removing them.

    1. I would add something. Anyone who must have my approval of their sexual habits in order for them to be happy is in trouble.

      I have my opinions, I will not let law, friendship, or any other method coerce me to change them.

      1. Hell, a significant fraction of the time, I don’t even approve of my _own_ sexual habits. 🙂

  8. I have a lot of fun as a White person born and raised in South Africa. I enjoy telling people over here that I’m African-American. When they boggle, I explain that I was born and raised in Africa, which makes me far more African than 99%+ of those who claim the label ‘African-American’ in the USA.

    One day I’d love to apply to join the NAACP on those grounds . . . if only to watch the heads explode!


      1. I tried to argue once that I’m a person of pinkness. The gal got all het up over it and didn’t notice the rest of the class (she had her back to them) fighting not to laugh. When someone takes up a Great Noble Cause, the sense of humor seems to be the first thing they jettison.

        1. Everyone who says anything critical of corporations in general is racist against persons of incorporation.

          Happily, I can often squeeze this in on top of the argument that a certain organization has not really changed over the past 160 or so years.

          Both can be combined to form ‘support for regulating business done by corporations is crypto white supremacism, and a desire bring about return to slavery’.

  9. Yes! More boxes! Society needs box inflation! There will be no happiness until there is a unique pronoun for every individual on earth!

    1. Au contraire. There will be no happiness until there are at least two unique pronouns for every individual on earth. That way, whenever anybody calls you by your pronoun, you can reserve the right to be mortally offended because they didn’t call you by the other one instead. And where would we be if we didn’t have automatic excuses to be offended at every single thing that happens?

        1. Yes, and then what would happen to The Noble Causes That We All Must Strive For? If everybody were happy, what would all the bureaucrats have left to do? What would we do with the Deputy Commissar for Regulating Lightbulb Technologies or the Assistant Undersecretary for Mandating the Correct Curvature of Bananas? It would be the end of civilization as we know it!

            1. Why upside down? It’s much easier to avoid having the bureaucrat slip out of the rope and injure a passer by if you tie the rope around the neck.

  10. The first required English class I had this time around was “technical writing” and it was essentially “business writing”. We had to do resumes and write letters for jobs and write an email response to a co-worker and write a couple of proposals.

    Our teacher specifically said that she wasn’t going to be paying much attention or grading on grammar or spelling. While I can see not grading on those things, I can’t see not requiring corrections. Sure, spell checker and grammar checker does a lot. You at least get a warning for a sentence fragment so that it can be fixed. But we spent no time whatsoever talking about how to manipulate a sentence for effect, either. We spent no time talking about style.

    (Our English PhD candidate teacher shared her letters applying for jobs with English departments and, frankly, it might be a very good thing that we weren’t taught “style” in that class.)

    I’m not at all surprised that students could get to graduate level and wonder why they’re suddenly seeing red all over their papers.

      1. I’ve taken traditional grammar as part of my “professional writing” English minor. Next semester I’m taking a 400/500 level English grammar class. Neither are required classes, though, not even for an English major. The majority of students in the traditional grammar class were Education majors who figured that they ought to know grammar if they were going to teach it to kids, but it wasn’t required for them either.

        I should probably say that I haven’t taken a creative writing class, so I don’t know if some of those mechanical things are covered there. I also don’t know what they teach in communications or journalism classes.

        You’d think that someone would actually care about teaching effective mechanics.

        1. I learned most of my formal grammar studying Latin.

          As an aside, Latin is why I’m perfectly willing to use he, she, and it to describe objects of all possible gender combinations.

          Yes, I know about the new ones that have been coined for english, but I’ve no pressing need for them.

        2. I did take creative writing, both fiction and non-fiction. (I learned that I can write a pretty decent essay under a time deadline and that I can’t write short stories. Also that I tend to not describe characters, and that I often leave out things I know about the culture that are not obvious to the reader.)
          My teachers announced at the beginning of each semester that they would not be correcting grammar as one should know that by the time they got to creative writing.
          I red-penciled the heck out of some of my classmate’s papers, which they were very grateful for (turns out one of the grad students teaching 101/102 did not feel correcting grammar was necessary). The funny part is that it was always the literary-type writers who had grammar issues. My guess would be that the genre writers slurped up grammar with their reading, as certainly no one learned it in the public school system here. We had some good times: one guy was writing a survivalist novel in fiction and we got into a firearms debate one class, leaving the professor blinking.

    1. I like to mess with old motorcycle. Reading some of the ads makes me cringe. I end up thinking “If this person is this ignorant sounding, they likely didn’t take care of the bike.” Pass.
      I have seen Resumes that were written in a like fashion. One got hired (that place was horrid anyhow) and the person lasted a month before messing up and getting fired. After working part of my life down the street from Tulane and Loyola in N.O. I wholly agree with the two sayings “College is full of stupid people” and (from Ogden Nash iirc) “There’s a lot of knowledge in College … The freshmen bring a little in every year, and Seniors leave with none, so it accumulates.”

  11. A large part of the problem, I feel, is that most schools do not require students to practice their writing and critical thinking skills during their k-12 education. And colleges allow sloppy work at the undergraduate level. This makes it easy for ‘academics’ to promulgate such obvious levels of BS masquerading as knowledge.

    When my wife was in the Master’s of Social Work program, I purchased ProCite, a bibliographic program, to help her with all the papers she had to produce. In one class, she volunteered to produce the final paper for a group project, including the bibliography in APA format. Over the weekend she had gotten all her group’s pieces, she showed me one young lady’s contribution. Sentence fragments, mis spelled words, and incorrect tenses made it unreadable in that I could not understand any point she was trying to make. It did, however, include all the big words that had been discussed in class.
    My wife had her come over to our apartment to do some revisions. The gal could not understand why my wife was objecting to statements like “The correlation shows the inter-relatedness of the related factors.”
    The young lady was magna cum laude graduate of the University of Washington, and told my wife “But all my professors have accepted my papers written like this.”
    Needless to say, my wife, who is a graduate of 12 years of Catholic schools in the 50’s and 60’s, helped her revise her portion of the paper.

    1. “most schools do not require students to practice their writing and critical thinking skills during their k-12 education”

      No, the problem is much, much, MUCH deeper than that.

      The problem is that, in this world, there are people who are neither competent to teach and evaluate writing and critical thinking, nor are they interested in doing so. And yet a radically disproportionate number of them become teachers.

      The young lady whose incompetence seems likely to have tempted your wife to either Despair or Wrath (or perhaps some combination thereof) is almost certainly at least two standard deviations _smarter_ than the modal Education school graduate.

      Ponder that. The real problem will become clear.

  12. Over night I had another thought about the cismale gendernormative fascist. Recall that fascist derives from “fasces” which were the rods/canes given to magistrates as a symbol of their role in ordering corporal punishment. And hence in this context (since there’s no discussion of government control of industry) a fascist would imply someone who likes BDSM. Which, I think. means that John Ringo’s Ghost is the archtypical “cismale gendernormative fascist”

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