ALLAN JEFFERYS: Hard-Fought Campaigns I'm Losing
We all have our campaigns -- especially these days. Some are political, some social, some purely personal. Most of mine I have been on for years, and I'm losing.
One of my longtime bugaboos is the English language. Admittedly, it is a living language, and thus ever-changing. If that were not the case, most of us would still be able to understand Chaucer and converse with Beowulf.
It is also a language full of contradictions. For example: How do you pronounce "present" and what does it mean? Pity the non-English-speaking person trying to figure it out. Sometimes I feel there are no standards -- no rules. "Data," "status," "Caribbean" are words with two legitimate pronunciations, although I wish broadcast stations would pick one and stick to it.
Personally, I prefer the preferred, which means using the long "a" and putting the accent on "be" in Caribbean. Diehards insist that "media" and "data" are plural and must be followed by "are" instead of "is." Oh? Well, opera is the plural of opus, yet how many times do you hear, "The opera tonight are 'Rigoletto'?"
Then there is the so-called great orator who is our president. Somebody should explain to his teleprompter that articles like "a" and "an" are not interchangeable. He tends to say "a exciting," "a activist" and so on. He also has trouble with plural versus singular.
And did I hear Bill O'Reilly say he used to be an English teacher? Spare me from that class; he's one of the worst offenders.
My biggest beef is with today's newscasters who seem to fear that pronouncing a "g" on the end of words that end in "ing" turns them into obscenities. I learned most of what I know about speaking by listening to the radio. When I was growing up, broadcasters took speech seriously and recognized they were role models. Today, they feel saying "comin' up" and "thinkin'" and "gonna" and "ya" -- and "ta" for "too" -- makes them human.
When I hear it, you know, I'm like ready to cringe, you know. I'm losing that campaign, too.
Prime-time pornography is also winning. This newspaper would not allow me to use some of the words that regularly are heard in prime time television. But few 11-year-olds read this column, though they sure do watch the adultery-filled, graphically presented sex scenes on TV. And then there are the not-so-subtle, innuendo-filled prescription drug ads. How do you explain to an 11-year-old just what ED is?
While on the subject of TV commercials, what about all those lawyer pitches? Overextend your credit? Call us and we'll get somebody else to pay for it. Spill hot coffee on yourself? We'll help you sue. Call our law firm and you'll never have to take responsibility for your own actions. Tort reform belongs in much more than health care. I'm losing that one, too.
I have no intentions of giving up, but I am reconciled to losing. Call it a generation gap, if you will. But who knows? Some things have a habit of coming full circle, so maybe a new generation will become a caring generation and change things back.
Which brings us to some changing that, I feel strongly, is on the way. These are some campaigns I, and others like me, will win and soon.
America has made no secret about the disdain for the shenanigans of Congress and the current administration. Even those who feel the government is trying to help know, deep down, that we cannot afford it. And some of us don't even believe they are trying to help. We feel they are simply seeking total control, which means freedom is lost. And that we will not stand for.
The campaign is gearing up with conservative radio and TV, conservative print media and protests around the nation. The campaign is headed for November 2010. For openers.
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at email@example.com.
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