The Name Game

By diderot

July 6, 2019


here can be no doubt. These days, the name of the game is names. Improperly describing, addressing or identifying not just people—but also places and things—is a tiptoe trip through a linguistic minefield. “Political correctness”, which was really just a call for civility, has given way to “political perfection”, where we now understand there are no safe spaces--for anyone. The lines which delineate such spaces are not only blurred…they keep shifting.

Yes, I realize this may sound cranky…but before you judge, please consider the following three examples:

Celestial rebranding. Are you…or do you know...a Mormon? Never mind. I already know your answer. It’s “no”. That’s because the earthly artists formerly known as Mormons shall, from this point forward, not be known by that name. Saying you’re “LDS” is out, too. This is the decree of newly installed church president Russell Nelson, who, as a perk of his office, is uniquely qualified to personally communicate with God. After one such conversation, the 93-year-old Nelson announced, “the Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church.” And that name would be the longstanding, formal moniker, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some cynics claimed the revived (but not very snappy) title is an attempt to permanently associate the church with the name “Jesus Christ”, following some snarking by Christians of different flavors.

In any case, not everyone’s buying it. Church member Tyler Scott penned a long piece listing ten reasons why this is a bad idea, including, “Rebranding is really a corporate thing. We don’t need any help looking more corporate”, and, “This can’t possibly be what keeps Jesus up at night.” We’ll see how it goes. Maybe it’ll prompt a sequel to the highly entertaining Broadway hit, The Book of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One woman’s underwear: I am far enough outside the cultural mainstream that I cannot understand how Kim Kardashian got famous for simply being famous. There must be reasons. I do know that many people adore her…but some do not. In fact, an entire nation has now begged Kim to slow her roll—and surprisingly, that nation is not America.

Employing the creativity that must have helped make her famous, Kim daringly decided to call a new line of undergarments she’s designed “Kimono”. (See what she did there with the “Kim” thing?) Clever. However, some social justice warriors quickly accused her of “cultural appropriation” for stealing the name from the Japanese—and it turned out, the Japanese weren’t so keen on it, either. The mayor of Kyoto wrote to her, explaining that kimono, “…truly symbolizes (the) sense of beauty, spirit and values of (the) Japanese.” Implied was the message that undergarments—even famous designer ones—might not meet those standards. At first, Kim objected. But then she relented. A culture was saved—and so was a “shapewear line.”

“Chicken****”. Nope, this isn’t about avian excrement. It’s actually a little story about the little town of Caldwell, Idaho (where a former mayor was once killed by a bomb affixed to his front gate). Anyway, I digress. You see, back in the 1930’s the residents living along one of Caldwell’s thoroughfares had had enough. Potholes tormented old horse-drawn buggies and new Ford Model A’s alike. People complained…but government ignored them. So, an enterprising farmer and his wife invited the governor himself over for dinner (presumably he avoided the front gate). They served him a delicious chicken dish, and he was so taken with it he agreed to repair the streets. And thus, from that point forward, the street became known as “Chicken Dinner Road.” Locals love the name and the lore.

But it turns out, not everyone agrees.

The good folks at PETA have requested a name change, helpfully pointing out that, “eating chicken is bad for human health”, and urging city fathers to “appreciate chickens as individuals, not as beings to kill, chop up and label as ‘dinner’”. Also, chickens may be crossing the road deliberately to avoid looking at those horrific signs (so, at least we’ve solved that old riddle).

In the end, this will all go for naught after Caldwell promptly informed PETA that the road is on county property, not theirs. Seems like PETA was barking up the wrong tree.

(Damn!--now I’ve done it, too! Canine appropriation!)

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