On the Stoop, we are fond of using clear, direct language. We pride ourselves on using language that lets the listener/reader know what we are saying and where we stand. We don't water it down, or muddy the waters.
In that same vein, the late George Carlin had a routine on how euphemisms get in the way of what we really mean. Carlin used the example of how in World War I the term used to describe soldiers who were mentally scarred by WAR was "shell shock". It was direct, it was lively, and everyone knew exactly what the hell you were talking about. In World War II, the same condition was described as "battle fatigue". Not as direct, the word "fatigue" is mushy when compared to "shock", and it takes a lot of the power away from what you are describing. From Vietnam and until the present day, the condition originally know as "shell shock" had a pit stop at "battle fatigue" and is now known as "post- traumatic stress disorder".
Post traumatic stress disorder is dry and technical and robs the reader of the power that is conveyed by "shell shock." Its used to soften the blows, but some blows need to be stiff.
Which brings me to another term that is on its way to euphemistic hell. (I forgot we can't use the word "hell", I should have said the "post- tropical dwelling of the damned").
What do you call someone who resides in a country illegally? I have always called such people "illegal aliens". For the most part, so have you. Whether you believe that amnesty should be granted to illegal aliens or not, its clear that the people we are talking about meet the two-prong test: (1) they live in America; and (2) they do so illegally.
But using the term illegal alien/immigrant is on its way out. In due time, it will be a hate crime to say it.
What is it being replaced by? The purposely ambiguous "undocumented immigrant".
I remember in early 2002, Baldman attended a law school conference and the topic had to do with the aftermath of 9-11. If you think they talked about how to stop us from getting attacked again, you would be wrong. If you think they talked about how to help our government meet the challenges of fighting world-wide religiously-inspired maniacs, it would indicate that you have no idea how hopelessly and dangerously liberal the mindset is in American law schools.
With the smoke from the towers still evident in lower Manhattan, the topic on this day was the inevitable backlash that would occur with Americans inflicting violence upon "undocumented immigrants."
Baldman was astounded. Here we had thousands of Americans murdered on an unprecedented scale, by a REAL enemy that would give their lives to kill us all, and we were talking about some hypothetical scenario that was the figment of the law school mind?
They were concerned that American lynch mobs would go around rounding people up. Of course, it never happened.
Always remember this: the ultra liberal among us always believe the worst about their own country, and the best about all other countries.
At the conference the first time the first lecturer used the term "undocumented immigrant" my hand immediately shot up. "What do you mean by undocumented immigrant? I'm confused. Do you mean "illegal alien"?
You should have seen the look the speaker gave me. At that moment, I could tell she hated me more than I hated Bin Laden. And she never would say "illegal alien."
Anyway, I bring up the illegal alien thing because for the first time, the dreaded term "undocumented immigrant" has surfaced in a Supreme Court opinion. The author: the self-described wise one: Justice Sotomayor.
Prediction: within 5 years, if you say the words "illegal alien" you will receive a tougher penalty than actually being an illegal alien.