Oscar Wilde was already very much aware of the power of the media in the 19th century. His famous reference to Burke regarding journalism as being 'the fourth estate' was amusingly followed by: '(...) That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. (...)'.
When one considers that there was obviously no television or Internet in the 19th century, Oscar Wilde's appreciation of the power of the press even then, does credit to his foresight and intelligence.
Today the media have the power to undermine greatness and promote mediocrity. We have witnessed this here in France. Everything depends on what the media concerned believe to be in their interests. This power, or its abuse, also includes the exploitation of certain words and ways of thinking, either decreed as 'politically correct', or not. Indeed the politically correct seem to be persuaded that words are far more important than even the most violent actions.
I refer to this somewhat belatedly, because whilst we were in Savannah there was a certain case of such abuse which was particularly unwholesome.
Sixty-six year old Paula Deen had to struggle hard to build up what she now has. For this she is an exemplary lady. She has become a celebrity more for her impressive achievements, than for the despicable treatment she has been subject to recently. She is an excellent cook, hostess, restauratrice, authoress, actress and television personality. She has won the Emmy Award and has published several cookery books. She lives in Savannah, Georgia, where she manages The Lady & Sons restaurant together with Jamie and Bobbie Deen, sons from her first marriage.
Just to see her, without being otherwise acquainted with her, is enough to reach the conclusion that she has a positive, affectionate and spirited nature.
But certain establishments don't always encourage individual initiative and enterprise. They seem to think that the success of the individual represents a threat. They prefer the idea of mythic equality, which by extension determines an unimaginative, mediocre society. In their eyes, power and fortune should, in principle, be limited to the establishment, or- unavoidably so- to multinational corporates. So if a successful individual becomes the victim of a slur campaign, you can be sure that the establishment, as well as the multinationals, will do absolutely nothing about it.
Certain media, those who thrive on what is judged to be politically correct or incorrect, seem to have targeted Paula Deen for using what today is considered to be a rife, racially prejudiced word. What's more, she happened to commit the apparently unpardonable sin some twenty years or so ago..
Use of the 'N-word' would be acceptable if one were Afro-American. But it seems to be regarded today as a crime worse than that of charging into a bank and holding a gun to Paula Deen's head, when, several years ago, she was working in a bank. She may have committed the inexpiable by referring to the bank robber (who it would seem, deserves so much better) in such a derogatory way at that particular time.
Today words can apparently cause more serious injuries than the largest sticks and stones. Certainly not to the person the word might be addressed to, but to the person accused of having uttered the word, be it as long ago as two decades.
Most intelligent Afro-Americans would scoff at such a dated word, shrug it off, or freely use it in self-derision, but this is not the case for the more mercenary hypocrites who believe they must act in strict accordance with what is considered politically correct. They are even free to use this as a commercial pretext in order to try to bring down the person charged with such a 'heinous crime'.
For example on the 25th June, 2013, the world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, dropped Deen as their spokeswoman. In Keira Lombardo's noble statement on behalf of Smithfield, she affirms that Smithfield 'condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language of any kind. Smithfield is determined to be an ethical food industry leader, and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly alligned, therefore we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen'.. How upright and admirable! How Tartuffian! (One is tempted to use the adjective 'piggish', but it would be unfairly pejorative and discriminatory to pigs).
Savannah Morning News of June 28th reports 'Deen's corporate losses continue'. Target Corp. and Home Depot have cut their ties with Paula Deen. Diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk was 'suspending for now' its patient-education activities with Deen. And Walmart Corp., the world's largest retailer based in Bentonville, Ark., 'announced it will place no new orders beyond their current commitments and will work with suppliers to address existing inventories and agreements', according to a Walmart Corp., spokesmen.
Over six important companies have reacted extremely negatively because of this ridiculous, dated charge.
Would it be due to fear or hypocrisie, or both? Or do the politically correct have ulterior motives for going to such absurd and harmful extremes? It would seem so.
(By the way, the opinion: 'Cup of forgiveness' of Savannah Morning News of June 26, 2013, could do more harm than good, in my own humble opinion, because it seems to go along with the political correctness, or maybe I missed something).
Let us also refer to certain words used by the noble hearts' club. 'Discriminatory', for example. Putting aside the obvious hypocrisy, is it not the essence of discrimination to judge, sentence and condemn, perhaps even with intent to ruin, someone who deserves far better, either on hearsay, or whatever one wants to believe or call it, rather than risk the fearful possibility of getting a tiny bit splashed by a little bit of media muck?
If we were to do away with words that could be interpreted as racial or discriminatory, the printed dictionary might well end up being far more economical to produce. Whole forests could be saved.
In France the government is considering excluding the word 'race' from the French constitution. In that case, without going geo-politically too far, words such as- 'French', 'Polish', 'Russian', 'Turk', 'African', 'Dutch', 'Arab', 'German', 'Italian' and certainly 'Irish', etc., should be generally done away with as well. 'Fish', 'dog', 'cat', 'ape', 'donkey' and 'ass', of course, should go. 'Frog', 'toad', 'skunk', 'gorilla', 'snake', 'shark', 'snail', 'pig', (naturally) 'vulture', 'rat', 'hyena', 'sloth', 'crab', 'wasp', 'worm', 'louse', 'slug', 'leech', 'spider', 'cock', 'golliwog', 'black', 'white', 'yellow', 'red', etc., are also examples of discriminatory words that should be eliminated post-haste, to be replaced with the original Latin terms, if that's possible, and deemed acceptable by the deciding powers of political correctness.
The word 'nigger', (there I've written it, God forgive me) is still often found in most good dictionaries. It is in fact, a neutral term and variant of the Spanish/Portugese 'negro', or the French 'nègre'. It obviously originates from the Latin 'niger' or root 'nigrum' (black). It is now judged to be extremely pejorative and racist, without there really being any underlying reason or justification for reaching such a judgement.
Mark Twain freely used the word in his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, for example, and to my knowledge no one, as yet, has managed to censor any of Mark Twain's books. Should they not all be thrown out of windows and burnt in the streets?
To quote Mark Twain- 'Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it'.
(Apparently the 'N-word' has been changed in some of Mark Twain's reprinted books. He would never have approved of course. The title of Joseph Conrad's 'The Nigger of the Narcissus' has been changed to 'The Children of the Sea'. And Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Niggers' has been changed to 'And Then There Were None'..).
We are, however, living at a time when one might be able to make a fortune by producing A First, Concise Politically Correct Dictionary (to be revised biannually). Although it could hardly be a thick volume, it would be a must for ambitious young journalists who wish to be included in the august retinue of the most politically correct politicians.
Thanks also to Wikipedia for additional information. July, 2013