Friday, March 16, 2007

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I think Republican presidential contenders have been reading a little too much Uncle Remus. First, it was Mitt Romney apologizing for calling the Big Dig construction project in Boston a “tar baby,” and now, poor old John McCain has fallen down into a tar pit himself when using the “tar baby” language. While both used “tar baby” to refer to a difficult problem that is aggravated by attempts to solve it, it can also be used as a derogatory term for a black person and that’s reason enough to avoid it altogether especially if you want to be President and you are a white guy.


Don said...

Sheila, both men seemed to be using the term “tar baby” in accordance with its accepted meaning, which, according to the Houghton Mifflin online dictionary, is “A situation or problem from which it is virtually impossible to disentangle oneself.”

If someone wants to read Uncle Remus or racism into its use that's their right and their problem. It seems that we have gotten so deeply into politically correct sensitivity that almost anyone can find a reason to feel offended if they want to. I feel that we should just get rid of whatever chips we have on our shoulders and, as Rodney King suggested, everyone just try to get along together.

Sheila said...

While I have to agree, Don, with you about the politically correct crap, this is a case where Senator McCain could have learned a lesson from what happened with Mitt Romney's apology some months ago. I know the politicians were using the term appropriately and didn't intend to offend, but "tar baby" can be considered offensive and derogatory and thus, I'd remove it from my vocabulary if I was a politician. Interestingly, both John Kerry and Al Gore have used the term and Sen. McCain seems to like it since he, too, had used it before.

Think of another words, boys, because every time this sort of attention is focused on language, your message is overshadowed.

Jay Croft said...

Yes, one has to tread carefully.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as political over-correctness. For example, "physically challenged" to refer to a person who uses a wheelchair.

Hulk Hogan is physically challenged when he gets into a wrestling ring. A person in a wheelchair is actually enabled by using the wheelchair.

Sheila said...

I don't want to intentionally offend someone, but sometimes it's hard to know. I'd just like it if people who are offended wouldn't automatically assume something darker was meant.

Tracey said...

Hi Sheila, thanks for popping in to say hello the other day! Yes, I am using PS...and a class would probably open a lot of doors!

Not being black, I'm not sure how I'd feel about the term Tar Baby. I've got a little native American in me (although, as my father points out, if yer born here her native!), but things like chief or redskins or any other currently PC terms don't bother me.

It's funny, but someone else was talking about habits, and how difficult it is to create one. And yet, others we're brought up with, and I think dumping them is even more difficult than creating a new one, don't you?

Anyway, you're right about needing to be careful about what you say if you're a white guy and want to be President!

Sheila said...

Tracey, glad you stopped by. Yeah, I don't know how much to blame on upbringing. I think maybe a lot. I'm thankful my mother taught me to be kind.

Don said...

Sheila, in today's climate I agree with you that politicians, of all people, have to walk on verbal eggshells, and it shows a lack of intelligence on their part when they can't seem to learn from the errors of others; but I've come to expect no more from most politicians whom I now observe through jaded lenses. As I said earlier, I wish we could all just try to get along rather than to look for ways to feel insulted.

Jackie said...

Hope I am not double posting as I got an error message.

Glad to hear you were able to put aside a problem and the result was a positive.

I am also trying to be more positive in my outlook and it must be working as two wonderful unexpected things happened to me last week :)

Wonderful painting.

Anonymous said...

Call me a "white guy", or call me a "Republican", it's hard to be either and not offend someone. Just describing myself in those terms may be offensive to some.

The bottom line is that people allow themselves to be offended either by insecurity or upbringing.

My parents use terms and phrases from their generation to this day.They are by no means "Politically Correct" I was brought up hearing them, and I have an understanding of their motives and personalities, and background.

These comments were not made with malice. They are examples if a vernacular that the modern culture does not understand, or wont tolerate.

Sheila said...

Thanks for your comments Eric. I'm more understanding of your average Joe or Jane. I hold politicians to a higher standard.