Letters to the editor

Aug. 04, 2013 @ 02:01 PM

Offensive words

I just learned that Seattle government workers are being told not to use the word “citizen” or “brown bag” as they may be offensive to some. Citizen should be replaced with “resident” and brown bag with “lunch and learn” or “sack lunch.” 

“Brown bag” apparently has some sort of historical racial association wherein the color of the bag was used as a standard to compare color of one’s skin for admission to certain social functions. I was unaware of that but if true I suppose some might find it offensive. “Citizen” use was explained as some people are residents and not citizens and there might be confusion as to who is included when the word “citizen” is used.

In New York City, the Department of Education avoids the use of such words as “birthday”, “Halloween” and “dinosaurs” on city tests because such words evoke unpleasant emotions for some.  Some religions do not celebrate birthdays, Halloween suggests affiliation with paganism and dinosaurs conjure the topic of evolution.

I try very hard not to knowingly say or do anything which might offend anyone.  Some of these aforementioned words have been part of my vocabulary for over 60 years and who knows what other words might be declared offensive to some. Between my trying to learn some of the new slang language so prevalent today, the social media shortcuts (letter abbreviation, and reprogramming my vocabulary, all while not offending anyone -- should I slip, please forgive me.

Kent Fletcher

Durham

 

System works, if….

If you’re a wealthy Republican donor whose mega-development 751 South  project is shot down twice by the Durham City Council, you can enlist a state legislator 200 miles away – say, in Cleveland County – to introduce your very own bill to force those disagreeable council members to allow your development. 

You can also find “get-government-off-our-backs’’ Republican legislators to vote your bill into law. Not surprising, since these are the same legislators who took away tax breaks for parents who buy school supplies but gave tax breaks to yacht owners.

Presto! Development approved. It’s a corrupt system, but it works - if you're wealthy and connected.

David Zucchino

Durham

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