Thursday, November 24, 2022

Our Latest Shootings in Colorado and Virginia

The US has witnessed two more mass shootings in the past week, the first in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and most recently, in Chesapeake, Virginia. Both are despicable tragedies that defy reason. Both illustrate once again that we have a mental health crisis in this country. In the Colorado incident, if not both, once again, our media has shown an inability or an unwillingness to deal straightforwardly with the news. (I am omitting the earlier mass killings at the University of Virginia and the mass stabbing deaths at the University of Idaho.)

The location of the Colorado shooting was a gay nightclub, and the first assumption on my part was that it was a hate crime perpetrated against gays. I was not alone in that assumption. Our media and many of our politicians also jumped to the conclusion that this was a hate crime. In my own defense, I am just a humble, little-read blogger and private citizen. (This is my first posting on this matter.)  When the media and politicians publicly jump to conclusions, the damage is greater.

Then came yesterday's news that the accused shooter identifies himself as "non-binary". This was announced by his lawyer. That threw the hate crime narrative, not to mention any hate crime charges against the shooter into question, if not utter confusion. But the media chose to shift gears in a different way. 

Say hello to wokeness.

Yesterday, while driving home, I had my car radio tuned to a San Diego news and talk station, KOGO, 600 am. Despite the fact that for much of the day they are broadcasting conservative talk radio shows like Sean Hannity and the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, the hourly news, in reporting this case, announced that due to the non-binary issue, this has impacted the way they would refer to the accused shooter. The announcer then proceeded to use pronouns like "they", "them" and "their" in referring to the suspect. Even Fox News's online service used the same pronouns. After seeing Fox News use these pronouns, I didn't bother to check the other major news sources. I had seen enough. One wonders how many readers and listeners across the country began asking themselves if there was more than one shooter in Colorado Springs. Where were "the others"? Should everybody in Colorado Springs lock their doors and barricade their windows? No, but given what we now know about the accused shooter's past problems, one wonders why he was still walking around in the first place, let alone with a weapon.

Fortunately for the media, another mass shooting on the other side of the country replaced the Colorado shooting in the headlines. In the case of the Virginia shooter, a disgruntled store manager, the trend immediately shifted to gun control and the fact that President Joe Biden has proposed gun control legislation, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, none of Biden's gun control measures would have prevented the Chesapeake shooting, in which a handgun was used. Was it a hate crime? No, the shooter (who turned the gun on himself) was black.

With all due respect to the gravity of both incidents and the victims, there is no need to change the English language because of a hare-brained idea that is being pushed by so-called gender scholars on university campuses. Changing pronouns to a confusing third person plural for single individuals will not lead to greater acceptance for gays or transgender persons who do deserve to be treated with common human dignity and not with harassment and violence.

So what do we do with some guy who walks into a gay nightclub and shoots people to death whatever his reason? My solution:

Hang'em all.


Anonymous said...

Setting aside the main point of this, I need to take issue with this statement:

"...there is no need to change the English language because of a hare-brained idea that is being pushed by so-called gender scholars on university campuses."

This is a very inaccurate view of what's happening. If gender scholars are talking about the use of the nonbinary "they", then they're describing what's happening to the language, not prescribing what the language should be.

Surely somebody with your credentials in languages is aware of how language adapts and changes for a variety of reasons. And I also don't have to tell you that when it comes to gendered pronouns, different languages do different things with them. (Some have more than two, and some have one pronoun no matter the gender.)

I know a pretty good number of people who go by the "they" pronoun. Many of them are younger people, but some of them are adults. We're likely to see more people identify this way as it becomes more acceptable. I'm sure that the reason why you and I didn't see that much of it is because people simply didn't see it as an option.

English is constantly changing. That's nothing new. And the idea of non-gendered pronouns is nothing new either, as other languages use them.

Is it a bit confusing? Sure. But are you going to ask the Germans to come up with a different pronoun for a single female because it's the same as their third person plural AND their formal second person singular? If the Germans can figure it out with that mess, I think that English will hold up just fine.

Bottom line? The language is changing no matter what you or I might think. Don't be the old man who yells at the sky.

(To be fair, when I was first introduced to the singular use of "they", I thought it was ridiculous too. I have since changed my mind for various reasons - some of which I just went into.)

Gary Fouse said...

You are correct that languages change and evolve for many reasons, unusually, however, not to make things more confusing. Using a 3rd person plural pronoun to refer to a single individual does nothing to make the language clearer.

Anonymous said...

The purpose isn't "to make things more confusing". But that's sometimes the byproduct. If we were speaking Finnish, this wouldn't have been an issue. English doesn't have a gender-neutral pronoun, and using "they" is what's happening. I would have preferred a new pronoun, but that just doesn't seem to be the way things are going. (I know that there was some push for new pronouns like ze/zim, but I don't think that's catching on.)

One other thing, don't discount the homophobia angle when it comes to the Colorado shooter. Turns out that his dad seems to be more troubled with the idea that his kid is gay than the fact that he's a murderer. (And I should point out that being nonbinary and being homosexual are different things. You can be one but not the other.) Even if the shooter was gay, seems like self-loathing can be a motivating factor.