"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet."
“I was on parole when I was arrested,” said Mike,
a self-proclaimed writer and my internship coordinator. “I
was making this deal with a prostitute down the streets in Williamsburg
until I realized she was a cop in disguise.” He was arrested
again while he was on probation.
Wait a minute – prostitution is not legal in America? Wow!
That is some show of morality! They have amongst the highest rate
in teenage pregnancy and they bother about individualistic decisions
I couldn’t understand it… a country which has
no culture, or let’s put it “a free country”
that has no boundaries and limitations when it comes to sex,
has laws against prostitution. Why is prostitution such a
I couldn’t understand it… a country which has no
culture, or let’s put it “a free country” that
has no boundaries and limitations when it comes to sex, has laws
against prostitution. Why is prostitution such a big deal? What
ever happened to their “rights” factor? They have
gay rights, women rights, child rights and numerous “strange”
rights – “I, me, myself” rights. I mean they
allow an adult over the age of 18 to make any and I repeat any
decisions, so what about the women who are over the age of 18
who decides to be a prostitute? What about her rights? Is it any
worse than having topped the world in teenage pregnancy rate?
It was such a heated discussion with Mike, the all-American guy
who was trying to explain to me their attempt to “inculcate
moralistic values” to a free country, which is good but
is that ever possible? In such a wide span of diversity, what
is moralistic to one may not be moralistic to the other –
especially for example, we often see the clash of religious values
nowadays. In the country of “so-called” evangelicals,
they don’t think twice before flushing down the toilet-bowl,
copies of the holy Quran. But yet again, here I never want to
be the one to comment on the morality of prostitution. It’s
just that Americans do not see the things as we see them. And
so Mike and I never really came to any conclusion.
During the conversation, I told Mike that we in South Asia, address
the prostitutes as “sex workers” as a politically
correct way to address them and to deem it as a profession, irrespective
of the question whether it’s moral or immoral. But this
is not me speaking…I mean in a politically correct way.
This is what Americans with whom I have worked with earlier in
various non-governmental organizations in Nepal suggest and insists
that we speak ‘in a politically correct way’. They
set the rules for the whole world. They can decide which country
can have peace and which goes to war. I mean do they call it a
war, if one has hi-tech, high-powered arms and ammunition, endless
number of soldiers when the other side has just few guns and homemade
bombs. I thought that was called oppression. Do they call it a
‘war for peace’ when civilians and innocent women
and children are killed? Anyway, this again may be American’s
politically correct way of talking about war.
But we, as an organization for protection of the right of sex
workers, only adhered to this term “sex-worker” because
the constitution of Nepal for hundreds of years to come will not
legalize prostitution and won’t care about protecting their
rights. But one has to understand that Nepal, as a poverty-ridden
country, which is doomed in the civil war, has lots more to do
than work on giving sex-workers’ protection. But this term
that we have been using, to address them for the last many years,
did them proud– if not anything.
I hate to admit that we live in a world that needs to water
down everything, even that which doesn’t need watering
down. The ‘Politically Correct Police’ are always
out there waiting to point out the proper and improper ways
we express ourselves.
I hate to admit that we live in a world that needs to water down
everything, even that which doesn’t need watering down.
The ‘Politically Correct Police’ are always out there
waiting to point out the proper and improper ways we express ourselves.
They are being euphemistic in order not to hurt the other person,
in order to be or appear polite. The problem I have with the usage
of some euphemisms is that they are often used in an effort to
be politically correct, which I think results in just plain fake
words. Don’t confuse my dislike of euphemistic language
with an overall dislike of political correctness, but “politically
correct” could be seen as a euphemism for politeness and
sensitivity. But in euphemisms, I think the effort at sensitivity
goes a bit too far.
According to critics of "PC", this is a form of coercion
or social engineering; Critics see it as particularly embraced
by advocates of certain forms of identity politics, especially
gay rights, feminism, multiculturalism and the disability rights
movement. Political correctness in public discourse is sometimes
perceived as inhibiting freedom of speech of individuals, particularly
the expression of opinions that risk offending some group. And
in a country like America, say the right word or just shut up!
The problem I have with some euphemisms is that they assume the
replaced word to be “harsh, blunt or offensive.” For
example, for a handicapped person, they now refer to them as “differently-abled,”
or “handicap-abled.” I have only come across those
who want to be treated equally and in the same manner, or at least
not any differently. So why would they want to be called ‘differently-abled’.
Is “handicapped” any worse?
In yet another incident, it was an interview I was doing with
a representative of the International Labor Organization in Nepal;
we had some discussions about how to address people with HIV and
AIDS. They now call them “people living with HIV and AIDS,”
whereas initially we just addressed them as victims of HIV and
AIDS. A number of responses flew through my head but what I said
was this, "Now I want you all to think about this. Do the
words ‘living with HIV’ bring to mind a different
image than the word ‘victim of HIV?’ Don’t they
have the same meaning? In fact I feel the latter has a more sympathetic
note to it… compared to the former which seems more like
an obvious decision…. to live with HIV?”
I was inappropriate, guilty of perjury and the representative
gave me the stares, the looks, the I-wonder-where-these-people-come-from
Let's get to some of these other non-victims. You probably noticed
there are lots of weight watchers in this country. You cannot
call fat people “fat” anymore. That again, if you
don’t get it right, you might offend them. But what else
can you call them? They're not large; they're not stout, chunky,
hefty, or plump. Because of their weight mismanagement, they are
not considered healthy also.
In short, “PC” is a direct result of diversity. While
on one hand it’s an attempt to be polite and, on the other
hand, it’s also a demand for respect. And now it seems telling
the truth is only politically correct on the witness stand…
because almost 100% of everything said in a politically correct
fashion requires a degree of lying. We are now, through socialized
pressure, expected to lie… to whitewash everything. Are
we ready for that?
Tashi D Shakya can be contacted at tshakya @ gmail.com. [To reduce
spam, please copy and paste email address and remove spaces.]