Setting Language Free

In 1985, Sting released “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free,” the first single off his debut solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, and immediately started take quantities of shit from the grammatically pedantic for using “them” as a singular pronoun. That was just lazy English, you see.

It’s now almost 2020, and in a society increasingly aware of and comfortable with the fluidity of gender, using “they” and “them” as singular pronouns is not only acceptable, it is often preferred.

I’m not ready to give Sting credit for being some kind of linguistic futurist, but what this evolution shows is quite simple. Artistry and creativity are more durable than pedantry.

The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave?

On his HBO show, Real Time, comedian Bill Maher has repeatedly asked his interview guests about the possibility that, should he lose his bid for re-election in 2020, Donald Trump might refuse to step down as President. By and large, his guests have tended to pooh-pooh the idea as alarmist or paranoid. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr assured Maher that there are institutions that would take care of such an eventuality and forcibly usher the vanquished former president out of the building.

I have to say, and this isn’t often the case, but I’m with Maher on this one, in that I don’t find such reassurances to be, well, reassuring. There may be institutions with that purpose, but exactly how much exercise have they gotten in the last 200-plus years? Is there really a playbook in case a defeated president refuses to relinquish power?

Continue reading “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave?”

A Non-Conforming Take on the First Amendment

I frequently hear, when someone feels they are being unfairly silenced, wholly specious claims that their First Amendment rights have been violated. A celebrated example was when, Phil Robertson, one of the guys from the reality show Duck Dynasty, made appalling remarks about LGBTQ+ people and atheists and the A&E network (very briefly) removed the show from their schedule. People who largely share Robertson’s homophobic views cried foul, claiming that A&E had violated his First Amendment rights. Many people pointed out that this was bullshit, but some for what I think are the wrong reasons.

Continue reading “A Non-Conforming Take on the First Amendment”

Russia Derangement Syndrome

The #MAGA crowd has a nickname for what they see as the irrational hatred liberals have for their Lord and Savior, Donald J. Trump. They call it “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” In their eyes, the left is inexplicably apoplectic because their Great Leader is somehow making America great again by giving away trillions to billionaires, bankrupting the treasury, and by not making Mexico pay for a wall.

Continue reading “Russia Derangement Syndrome”