Appropriateness is subjective under First Amendment 

[Photo courtesy of Chicago-Sun Times]

By Marshall Myers

Divisive, polarizing and controversial are all words used to describe the current state of social issues in our country. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, not another Donald Trump article! We can’t keep up as it is.”

However, this piece is not about our president’s voracious tweeting habits, or the always present dramas that seem to follow him everywhere.  Rather, where does our First Amendment right to free speech end, and can someone take this expression too far?

But first, a look into some recent events.  About three weeks ago, a well-known and liked ESPN host, Jemele Hill, took to twitter to voice her opinions on our current president. Using terms like “white supremacist,” “ignorant,” and “bigot,” her tweets gained notoriety very quickly.

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People need to cut back on using euphemisms

By Jason Klaiber @J_Klaibs

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People need to limit their use of euphemisms. When referring to something they deem unpleasant, many people substitute harsh yet direct language with these polite yet vague expressions. Euphemisms serve as a roundabout way to mask the truth and avoid offending others.

Euphemisms don’t present as much damage in the context of stand-up comedy, for example, wherein such expressions heighten the hilarity of many routines. However, using them in fields such as business or politics veers closer to being harmful. Businessmen and government officials often soften the blow of their words to cover up actions, policies or any other unsightly reality. These evasions of clarity mislead people.

Think “alternative fact.” This term, used earlier this year by President Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway in an interview with Meet the Press, acts as a subtle replacement for “lie” or “falsehood.”

Such abuses of the English language don’t end there.

A word like “downsizing” sounds like the result of partaking in a weight loss program, while “normal involuntary attrition” conjures up the thought of a common health defect. In actuality, the use of either one of these terms meets the same definition: a company intends to fire employees or has already done so.

In military life, “collateral damage” refers to the killing or wounding of civilians or the unintentional destruction of property. “Enhanced interrogation techniques” means torture. While it sounds more like a compliment a theater critic would direct at a performer, “extraordinary rendition” actually concerns the CIA-sponsored, unlawful kidnapping and transfer of suspected terrorists from one country to another.

During World War II, the term “relocation center” meant the Japanese internment camps in the United States.

Between World War I and the end of Vietnam War, the term “shell shock”— the psychological distress caused by warfare—transformed into “post-traumatic stress disorder,” which sounds less immediate and serious. In his 1990 special Doin’ It Again, comedian George Carlin said, “If we’d have still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time.”

In 2013, former CIA director David Petraeus apologized for “slipping his moorings,” a euphemism for losing one’s sense of right and wrong, when he had extramarital sex with his biographer.

Somewhere else along the line, “passing away” became a replacement for the word “dying.” The action of “putting to sleep” became the gentle-sounding alternative to “euthanizing.” Once buried after death, a person “pushes up daisies.” Poor people have been labeled as “economically disadvantaged.” Crippled people have instead been labeled as “differently abled.” Genocide has become otherwise worded as “ethnic cleansing.” Using such euphemisms lessens the gravity of dreadful situations.

The unwillingness to use or hear anything perceived as too profane, in turn, makes people too sensitive. People shouldn’t hide under euphemisms to feel comfortable facing reality, no matter how unpleasant reality may be. Imprecise words found in these euphemisms extract the humanity out of language. Once words and phrases become so obscure that they can mean anything, they mean nothing. Society requires the growth of simple, straightforward communication to elude this unnecessary confusion once and for all.

Older generations should learn many millennials defy their labels

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(Photo Credit: http://www.insperity.com)

By Jason Klaiber @J_Klaibs

When older generations label all millennials as apathetic, coddled or lazy, they should realize not every member of this generation fits their descriptions.

Many millennials volunteer in their communities and obsess over filling up their résumés. Not every millennial abstains from voting or expects a participation trophy for everything he or she does, either.

Millennials, often considered to be those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, now comprise the largest share of the United States population. Fitting every one of its individuals into an assumption amounts to stereotyping. In the same vein as thinking that all blondes possess low IQs or that every New Yorker lacks courtesy, stereotyping millennials shouldn’t be an accepted notion in our society.

Labels have been attached to every generation. As many baby boomers came of age, older men and women lumped them all together as “hippies.” Generation X had been branded as an age of “slackers” by many hailing from prior generations. This trend of stereotyping the generations that follow one’s own needs to stop.

The oldest millennials only recently became old enough to run for president. The youngest ones only recently became old enough to get their driver’s licenses. Already criticizing millennials for their contributions to society would be like yelling at a toddler for not adding enough to their household’s income.

Millennials should be given a chance. They need time to grow and achieve, just like their elders did. The only sure thing these older generations have on millennials is exactly that—they’re older.

 

Column: We Need to Talk About Ke$ha

By Liam McGurl

[Image courtesy of mtv.com]

There’s always a strange dichotomy between celebrities’ personal and professional lives—especially when it comes to musicians.

We’re so attached to their pop-savvy lulls that we, sometimes unknowingly, assume their bubbly pick-me-up sounds are a direct reflection of their personal experiences.

Needless to say, this outlook is nothing short of faulty and “Tik Tok” singer Ke$ha is an unfortunate illustration of that.

The star of the television show My Crazy Beautiful Life filed a lawsuit against her producer Luke Gottwald—more commonly known as Dr. Luke—in October of 2014, alleging he drugged and raped her shortly after her 18th birthday in 2006.

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