Not just any war—a flame war. Many are already being waged.
All joking aside, I’ve noticed that since the last presidential campaign season, during which people dug their heels into the ground for whatever candidate they supported, the tendency toward polarization has spilled over into other areas. In particular, seems to have become more prominent in the fandom/nerd/geek community. No longer is it a friendly rivalry where people can agree to disagree. No, now those who disagree must be smeared and the supposed “right opinion” presented with pretense.
While these “factions” have existed for years (Marvel or DC? Star Trek or Star Wars? Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat?), I’ve never seen such vitriol in the past. Divisions have even formed within fandoms, and thanks to the anonymity of the internet, a “civil war,” of sorts, has waged.
The situation that brought this to my mind is Capcom’s newest fighting game, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. Because the game wasn’t living up to everyone’s expectations leading up to its release, interest waned for the game. Then another company, Arc System Works, announced a similar game called DragonBall FighterZ. It was then the camps formed. Hardcore MvC fans held out for the former game while defectors, “casuals,” and DBZ fans formed around the other game. They created copious memes, both photos and videos, denouncing Capcom or MvCI and proclaimed Arc Systems and DragonBall FighterZ the greatest things ever. Personally, what passing interest I may have had in the DragonBall game was killed by their pretentiousness.
I follow several YouTubers, like Maximilian Dood, who make videos on fighting games, and they soon found themselves enveloped in the firestorm. Max in particular has said he’s been accused of being both a shill and a hater. In other words, both sides dislike him. He’s actually taken what I think is an honest and realistic approach to things. When MvCI was released, he criticized some aspects but praised it for others. I’m sure that drove some people on both sides crazy.
What gets to me is how quickly people rally around what’s honestly unimportant things. These are games. They’re entertainment. It’s not life or death. And yet the human desire to fit in and belong to a group compels them to form factions and fight for their cause, no matter how trivial.
This needs to stop.
Not just in fandom circles. Everywhere. For everything.
I heard many stories about families dividing over politics last year. Groups and movements have sprung up over the years that claim they want to bring equality, but all they do is create hate for “the other side.” What they don’t realize is movements based on hate can’t last. All they do is create a self-perpetuating crazy cycle. But all it takes is one person to break it.
Be that person, True Believers.
Have you witnessed polarization over things besides politics? Where? Why? What have you done to break the crazy cycle?
(Note to my readers: I’m getting back into the habit of blogging on my normal basis. It’s proven to be difficult with my busyness. My apologies).
I’ve heard, read, and sometimes written a lot of BS in my life, but yesterday I heard something on a local radio talk show that has officially on my top five list of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard:
Proper English grammar is racist.
It was part of a press release from the University of Washington Tacoma’s Writing Center, which said,
“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English. Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”
The Center’s director, Dr. Asoa Inoue, went further by asserting that racism has created unfair standards in education itself. “Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society.”
I read this press release, the statement itself, and the response from the university when the controversy ignited. While I don’t normally get political in my blogs, this so annoyed me because it touches on something important to me, and I thought I should say something.
First, all of UW’s claims seem to be generalizations. There are no specifics offered. I assume they think people make racist assumptions based on how others talk and write. In other words, if they don’t use “proper” grammar, they presume they’re uneducated and/or stupid based on how they communicate. If they have a certain accent and are of a certain ethnicity, this reinforces certain negative prejudices. At least, that’s how I understand what UW is saying. The statement goes so far as to say that English grammar is somehow full of “microagressions.” How it does is never explained in clear detail. Honestly, the statements seem to have more to do with education than language itself.
The problem with this is it ignores reality and cast a shadow on those, like myself, who pride themselves on communicating clearly with good grammar. Yes, English is constantly changing and evolving. Listen to a few episodes of “The History of English” podcast to see that. But something else you’ll learn from that podcast is that accents and dialects denote someone’s upbringing, culture, and education level. It’s simply a fact. (Yes, I know there are plenty of intelligent people out there who speak in dialects that use less-than-perfect grammar). The problem isn’t language and grammar; it’s people who don’t take the time to get to know someone based on how that person communicates. This is equivalent to blaming a murder on the gun and not the murderer. Does it make me some pretentious racist because I say, “My friend and I,” instead of, “My friend and me”?
UW released another press release responding to the controversy probably because the “blogosphere” brought up an obvious problem: if proper English is racist, why teach it? UW’s Writing Center said,
“The Writing Center statement is not about changing the standard for how UW Tacoma teaches commonly accepted English, grammar and composition. UW Tacoma students achieve thorough proficiency in grammar and English expected in higher education and the workplace. Faculty demand a high level of writing proficiency. Our graduates are successful in a wide array of fields.”
Sounds like backpedaling to me. They claim that teaching proper grammar makes people racist because they assume those who don’t use it and instead speak in a dialect will be seen as ignorant, and since most dialects are used by minorities, it reinforces racism. Yet they say they will teach students English to help them be successful. In other words, they know students need to learn good written communication skills to excel in their vocations despite it fostering racism. So, does that mean all great orators, writers, and communicators are all racist? Isn’t the university teaching racism by teaching proper grammar? They can’t have it both ways.
If I met a black person who talked like Snoop Dogg in this commercial, I wouldn’t understand him. I’d probably assume he listened to rap music and might possibly be a thug along with some other presumptions. Why? Because that’s what is commonly associated with people who talk like that. That doesn’t make me racist. It’d simply be reality. Now, would that stop me from talking with the person? No. Would I be surprised to find out he wasn’t a gangster? Probably. But I wouldn’t be so closeminded as to assume this person couldn’t be an intelligent, upstanding member of society.
Language is part of one’s self-presentation. People will make judgments for good or ill based on how one speaks. That is a fact. Labeling people “racist” because of this will only breed more tension and resentment. Must we all speak in the same dialect/accent/language? That is impossible to do. That is, unless, you suspend all English education. It’s much easier to speak in broken, dumbed down English. Doing that, however, will only create chaos because communication will be hampered.
All of this just seems like yet more propaganda insisting there’s still an epidemic of racism in this country, and that people are racist without knowing it. Haven’t you noticed how more and more stories keep hitting the news claiming innocuous things are somehow racist? It seems to be a determined effort to either make some people feel guilty for being “racist” when they aren’t or to convince others they’re victims of racism when they aren’t. That’s as much as I want to say on the subject because going further would require more words and time than I can give right now. I’ll simply say that nothing lasting can be built on a foundation of guilt, anger, and/or hatred.
Thanks for reading this blog full of “racist” English grammar.
What are your thoughts on this? Is proper English grammar somehow racist?
I don’t usually get political in this blog or on any of my social media sites. It’s not because I’m apolitical—I’m a staunch conservative, in case you didn’t know—but because I have no desire to join the firestorm-beset wasteland that is “internet discourse.” I’ve been a troll magnet in the past, and let me tell you, while I can endure the abuse (and even laugh at it), it is tiring.
Regardless, the strangest election cycle, well, ever, finally came to an end Tuesday night. Or rather, Wednesday morning at 2AM. I voted, but it was with reservations. I wasn’t excited about either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I was a Ted Cruz supporter during the primaries. Heck, I even attended one of his rallies when he came to Fort Wayne, Indiana (it was the first political rally I ever attended). If he hadn’t won, there were several other candidates I would’ve gladly voted for. I was disappointed to see Trump come out on top, and thanks to my state, no less. I honestly thought his appeal was largely a cult of personality (cue mandatory reference to the ‘80s song) fueled by angry people fed up with the government. Although, admittedly, it did give me some reassurance to see him nominate my state’s governor, Mike Pence, as his running mate.
There was a period in my life where people seemed to assume I was a Republican in my political beliefs, and they put me into the “box” they’d constructed for what that meant, most of it based on inaccurate stereotypes. Even when I tried to explain that I considered myself a conservative, not a Republican, that didn’t always seem to stick. For me, one’s political beliefs should be based on ideas and philosophies, not party affiliations. Just because I, or anyone else, tend to identify with one more than the other because they usually espouse similar ideas doesn’t mean my first loyalty is to that party.
That’s why, especially in the last few months, I’ve tried to make it clear that I was interested in the truth above anything else. I’d defend Trump if I felt someone was regurgitating misnomers that were being spread about him, but again, that didn’t mean my loyalty is to him. (I’d have done the same for Hillary, but, well, the truth is either hard to find about her or it’s unpleasant). I had no pretensions about who these candidates were. I was never all-in with Trump. He’s not the pseudo-messiah some of his supporters seem to think he is, nor is he the reprobate his haters think he is. I, like the majority of Americans, I think, was somewhere in the middle.