Par­don my French, s’il vous plaît

Record Observer - - Religion -

When I was young, a say­ing went around, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words/names will never hurt me.” Sup­pos­edly it was to make me ig­nore peo­ple say­ing nasty things about me.

For the most part, I am not too im­pressed by the words/ names peo­ple throw my di­rec­tion, but I do duck when they throw sticks and stones at me. I ducked most of them. It is not the sticks and stones that I duck that I worry about; it is the ones that I don’t duck.

I know we live in a PC cul­ture and it is a cul­ture that I can­not keep up with. I am not sure any­body re­ally keeps up with this kind of thing. Ev­ery day there is a new word you are not al­lowed to use or you might of­fend some­body. I try my best not to of­fend any­body but I must con­fess that it is al­most im­pos­si­ble.

Some peo­ple just do not have any­thing bounc­ing be­tween their ears. Like last week, for ex­am­ple. I was mind­ing my own busi­ness and I am not quite sure what started the whole sit­u­a­tion and I do not know who was re­spon­si­ble for it. If it was me, I re­ally did not know what I did.

Sud­denly, the man next to me started to scream all kinds of foul lan­guage. Be­lieve me; I think foul lan­guage is for the birds. When this man re­al­ized what he had done, he said the in­evitable, “Par­don my French.” And he smiled a greasy, slinky smile.

I was not very much im­pressed with this turkey’s gob­bling. If I had an egg or two on me, I would have thrown it at him with all the strength I had.

I was sup­posed to for­get all that foul lan­guage he used be­cause he said the magic phrase, “Par­don my French.”

In high school, we had to take a for­eign lan­guage and so I took three years of first year French. I must say I flunked each year, but that is be­side the point. Even though I was not very good at French, I knew that what this man was say­ing was not in any French dic­tionary I had ever looked at.

I was tempted to look up my French teacher and ask her what th­ese “French words” meant. But, I’m not a turkey.

If I was French, and I am not, I cer­tainly would have been of­fended by him re­fer­ring to this foul lan­guage that he used as part of the French lan­guage. It’s peo­ple like this that I would like to give a lit­tle bit of their own medicine.

Here is how I would do it. I’m not French, but I am Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch. There­fore, I would like to go up to this “French-speak­ing” per­son and slap him soundly on the right cheek and then say, “Par­don my Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch.”

I am not too sure I could get away with it, but there have been many in­ci­dences when I cer­tainly was tempted to try it.

I must con­fess I lean to­ward be­ing of­fended when peo­ple around me use coarse and foul lan­guage. How­ever, in our cul­ture it is okay to use foul lan­guage when­ever you want to. Just as long as you do not use other very sen­si­tive and of­fen­sive words.

Ev­ery day this word list grows longer and I am not sure who is in charge of polic­ing po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect words. I found some I thought were a lit­tle bit silly.

The word “Alive” for ex­am­ple is, “tem­po­rar­ily metabol­i­cally abled.” I do not know who came up with that but I am still try­ing to process that def­i­ni­tion.

Then there is one word I am a lit­tle con­cerned about and that is “Bald,” which, ac­cord­ing to the dic­tionary here means, “fol­lic­u­larly chal­lenged.” And I thought I was just los­ing hair!

Then there is a list of other words.

“Body Odor” is “non dis­cre­tionary fra­grance.” How many fra­grances are there?

“Crim­i­nal” is “be­hav­iorally chal­lenged.” Of course I think you would have to get a good def­i­ni­tion of the word “be­hav­iorally” be­cause I have no idea what that means.

Here is one that re­ally grabbed me. “Dead” which is sim­ply “liv­ing im­paired.” Se­ri­ously?

I did like the word “Dis­hon­est,” which is de­fined as “eth­i­cally dis­ori­ented.” Some­body is dis­ori­ented, that’s for sure.

Then the one that re­ally from my point of view makes no sense at all. “Drunk,” which is de­fined, “chem­i­cally inconvenienced.”

Who­ever can keep up with this list of words is sim­ply “willy-nilly chal­lenged.” Do not ask me what that means be­cause I have no idea.

Talk­ing to some peo­ple, it is like talk­ing in a for­eign lan­guage of some sort. You have to be care­ful what word you use or you do not use. For all of th­ese I would like to say, “Par­don my po­lit­i­cally cor­rect chal­lenged brain.”

Who­ever says that words can­not hurt you is cer­tainly not “tem­po­rar­ily metabol­i­cally abled.”

One of my pas­sions is to find the right word for what I am try­ing to say. Just when I get it down, some­one comes along and changes the whole mean­ing of it to the point where I have no idea what I am say­ing.

King David un­der­stood the im­por­tance of words when he wrote, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 119:11).

Hav­ing the right word and un­der­stand­ing it is the glory of liv­ing.

Dr. James L. Sny­der is pas­tor of the Fam­ily of God Fel­low­ship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483, where he lives with his wife. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or email jamess­ny­ His web­site is www.jamessny der­min­

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