With the confiscation of words and phrases by groups with ideological and political motivations, it becomes difficult for many to find logical counter-responses to social conformity.

Recently, a radio host talked about an interview with an older man in Iowa who stated that over his lifetime, he has known numerous “colored” people. The host went bonkers. This elderly man was a racist, stupid, an enemy and a threat to all that is holy. He had used the wrong word.

There is nothing wrong with a minority selecting what they want to be called, but when a person showing no other bias doesn’t use those terms, is that a sign of a true bigot, or is it the sign of innocence? Maybe this man simply doesn’t care enough to keep current on ideologically confiscated words. If a person is not interested in something someone else thinks is very important, does that make that person stupid or maybe even evil? Not caring what race someone is seems logically to define someone who is not a racist.

There seems to be three types of people who respond to these types of situations. As an example, let’s use the phrase, “Women never lie about being sexually assaulted.” One person knows this statement is not literally true, but they go along with it because the statement is expressing what to them is a higher truth.

The second type of person simply looks at the statement and says, “Nonsense, of course some women lie about such things.”

The third category of person appears never to think about it in terms of any reality other than the group-think that produced it. If you say the statement is untrue, they accuse you of being in favor of assaults on women.

Another statement, this time from education, demonstrates the same pattern. A much repeated adage states, “There is no such thing as a bad question.”

The first person knows this is not true, but it expresses the feel-good attitude with which a lot of educators like to surround themselves, and it could motivate better instruction.

The second person states that there are obviously some questions that are time-wasting and maybe just plain stupid.

The third never questions the statement, but readily accepts the feelings and the acceptance embodied in the statement and questions whether anyone not repeating it should be allowed to teach. Fashion moguls, politicians and propagandists love this last type of person. Reality to them is whatever the group says it is. Good and bad are not defined by a set of historically sanctioned successes or by a pattern of ethics, but by what the adopted group is thinking and doing at the moment.

Gay marriage good, gay marriage bad. Long dress, short dress. Socialism or capitalism. The first type of person tests the wind. The second tries to find the truth. The third wants to belong, and there is hell to pay if they or another are caught on the wrong side.

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Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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