More Fun With More Words

« July 2012 »

Memo to the Catholic Church, Penn State, and William Collier: YOU ARE DUMB. AND AWFUL.

As many of us learned on Twitter over the past couple of days, words have power. Frequently, the power to be really, really irritating. Words also have meanings, but apparently, meanings are capricious things, flitting about, impossible to pin down. On today's SPASTIC TOPIC MONKEY FRIDAY, let's take a look at some words that have been horribly abused, often in the name of horrible abuse. And no, neither "Tosh" nor "Rape" are among them, so it's safe for you to keep reading.

CHARITY: When you think of charity, you think of helping the needy and the downtrodden. The Catholic Church likes to think it has a long, storied history of providing charity to those in need, so you'd think they'd have a pretty good grasp on the term.

But apparently not, since Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Dolan, explained to the New York Post that $20,000 payments to pedophile priests leaving the church were, in fact, "charity". Not, you know, "payoffs". Or "severance". Or "hush money". Just some charity. You know, because it'd be tough for them to find work, what with a history of molesting children at all. So they'd need a little money to live on. Oh, wait, the church kept that history secret, too, so unless the priests were dumb enough to put "got caught fucking children" on the "Reason For Leaving" section of their resume, I guess it wouldn't really come up in the interview.

I suppose Zwilling, if called on his ludicrous assertion, would just claim his use of the word "charity" was a "semantic disagreement", as opposed to a "desperate, bald-faced lie". And he'd probably have at least one avid supporter.

HUMANE: Now, I know the report on the Penn State / Sandusky coverup came out yesterday, and was so fucked up that even the independent investigation couldn't pretend nothing bad had happened. I'd like to focus on a story that came out during the Sandusky trial, when NBC got a hold of some e-mails that showed that one of the reasons then-president Graham Spanier didn't report Sandusky to the police was to be "humane" to Sandusky.

Fuck. I'd really much rather believe it was a cover-up to prevent negative publicity toward the institution and keep the people in charge from getting in trouble. That's a motivation I can understand. Raw, venal, self-interest trumping morality and ethics may be wrong, but at least it's comprehensible and all-too common. Learning your colleague is a child molester, and keeping it from the authorities because you didn't want to subject him to public humiliation and law enforcement? That's a special kind of fucked up, and I hope yesterday's report makes some more heads roll.

ACCOMMODATE: Accommodation can be difficult, no doubt. Making allowances for the special needs of certain populations requires extra time, work, and sometimes money. So, when Rev. William Collier, of the Church of God's Chosen in Alabama explained that "We don’t have the facilities to accommodate other people" at his pastor's conference, you might be tempted to empathize with him, despite him being a Christian reverend from Alabama.

Thing is, the "other people" he's talking about? People who aren't white. White people, you see, are the "chosen" in the name "Church of God's Chosen". So shen he says they don't have the "facilities" to "accommodate" other people, he means mental facilities. And not so much "accomodate" as "not despise based on the color of their skin". It's a subtle difference, and sure, usage makes language fluid, but I think we can all agree that Collier has an incredibly limited grasp on all kinds of things, including the meaning of the word "accommodate".