Word Nerd Wednesday: Princess Bride Edition Redux



Courtesy of Rod Dreher, we get to observe (and lament, depending on your perspective)  further evidence that even amongst the educated, literacy is reduced to a combination of functional enough to get by and near-constant wrangling to avoid offenses, real or perceived, at all costs. Before we explore the specific word in question it’s necessary to offer a bit of context from the story Dreher published. From a concerned member of the Oregon Confederation of School Administrators:

Dear COSA members,

A little over a year ago, I received an email from one of our aspiring administrators, Alesia Valdez. She asked a simple question: “Has the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators ever thought about changing the name of the organization?”

Alesia pointed out that the words “confederation” and “confederate” have historically racist associations, and wondered if it was time for COSA to update its name – to move away from a name that many would consider “outdated, offensive or racist,” and instead toward a name that would better represent the values that COSA and our members hold around “equity, diversity, inclusion and culturally-responsive practices.”

I contacted Alesia and let her know two things – first, that I appreciated her request and that I was taking it seriously, and, second, that a name change would require amending our Constitution and Bylaws through a process that would include consultation and engagement with the COSA Board of Directors and all COSA members.

After I received Alesia’s email, I sought out a number of the leaders of color in our organization to get their perspectives. Many told me that the “Confederation” in our organization’s name had been a barrier to their participation in our association and that they agreed the name should be changed.

I took Alesia’s request to the next meetings of the COSA Board of Directors and the COSA Equity Advisory Board, and together we developed a process for considering Constitution and Bylaws amendments to change the name of the organization.

In September, the COSA Board appointed a bylaws review committee and tasked them with bringing any draft amendments to the COSA Board meeting in December. The committee took a holistic view and recommended language that will strengthen and modernize our governing documents while also better reflecting the work that we do as an organization. The Board considered the draft amendments and voted unanimously to move them forward in the process. In addition to changing the “C” in COSA to “Coalition,” these amendments also include technical updates to reflect more current practice, such as updated anti-discrimination language. New additions also include specifically naming the COSA Equity Advisory Board as an official COSA committee with representation on the COSA Board of Directors, and new language acknowledging that students are at the center of our members’ work.

Sigh.  This brings us to our word of the week, confederation, which has absolutely nothing to do with the former Confederate States of America, racism, slavery, or the Civil War. In fact, the original 13 U.S. colonies ratified their union using a document known as the Articles of Confederation, long before the civil unrest of the 1860s. Why? Because this is the actual definition of the word confederation:

Confederation, n. : 1. a league or alliance for mutual support, 2. a group of confederates, especially of states more or less permanently united for common purposes.

Clearly, a cursory glance at a contemporary online dictionary supports reality. Namely, that the word confederation is far from offensive, controversial, or racist. However, we’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole since everyone has “woke up” that reason and appreciation for the rich complexity of language has given way to a jittery hair-trigger reaction to just about everything.

I’m halfway tempted to start calling every tightwad and stingy person I know a niggard, just to be controversial.

I won’t, and I’m black anyway, so spare me the outrage.

I just get a little weary with the degradation of language and the politicization of every facet of life. I think we all need a nice long walk on the beach at sunrise; for a modicum of perspective about how small we all are in the grand scheme of things.









10 thoughts on “Word Nerd Wednesday: Princess Bride Edition Redux

  1. bike bubba says:

    The very existence of documents like the “Articles of Confederation” illustrate the hazard a lot of the language police pose to us; we will find ourselves unable to understand the very documents that set up the world we live in.

    Glad to see pukeko back, BTW. I’ve heard that copper wire was developed by two Scotsmen fighting over that penny once they’d gotten it out of the Grand Canyon they’d dug. (I’m part Scots….what was that word you were using about me?)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. nellperkins says:

    They’ll just start referring to the Articles of Confederation by some euphemism or, more likely, explain the name by the fact that they were written when slavery was legal and so obviously they were evil. EVERYTHING was sheer pure evil back then, you know.

    Speaking as someone who’s been harassed at work by both the politically correct and the patriotically correct, I take a dim view of sacking everyone who’s woke. Apparently I’m not woke – white southern Christian straight and all — but I am opposed to empire and that’s enough to poison me for all sides.


  3. Elspeth says:

    Good morning, Nell, and Hapy New Year to you!

    I don’t want to see anyone sacked because of their ideological leanings. I don’t believe the woke should have their rights and freedoms infrniged upon. I also don’t want to see your rights and freedoms infringed upon.

    What do I want? I want all of us to be able to live in peace no matter what we think or believe, and trust me, you’re not alone in feeling like an outsider because you’renot insane.

    I could rattle off my list of characteristics as well: black (and embracing my blackness), Christian, very conservative, straight, and cis gendered (the latter I use only to make a point!).

    I’m sure you can see that I am also a woman without an ideological home. I’m cool with that so long as there is no blatant attempt to punish me for it. As it stands right now, only the woke are safe.

    Of course, the reframing of benign language as offensive or triggering is the point of this blurb, but it points to something much more sinister, not the least of which is the dismal failure of our educational systems.


  4. nellperkins says:

    I wasn’t complaining about you. That remark was addressed to another comment. One of the reasons I’m drawn to your writing is that you too are culturally & intellectually stuck in the middle and it’s made you see many things the way I see them. Also, although I’m still not as conservative on women’s issues as you are, I’m so much more conservative now than when I was younger it’s amazing. Some day I’d like to have a conversation with you and Hearthie about all that. But I spiral from one family crisis to another. Whoever told you that being a housewife is a privilege was right. Taking care of sick family and working a J.O.B. is its own special kind of hell-stress. That is, I shouldn’t be on here commenting at all. I’m playing hooky (spelling?)

    I read mommy blogs as escapist literature about the life I wish I had.

    What’s going on with language is power plays and power trips. Our educational system has been degraded with the purpose of making it easier to fool people and twist their minds.

    Another part of what’s going on right now with the woke — I see it every day as an employee of the woke — is that corporate riches are joining leftwing cultural elites to impose anti-worker wokeness of all as a further mean of controlling people. Global monopoly is going to look just like worldwide socialism and vice versa.

    May God have mercy on us all. But please know I know and admire you very much. God bless you.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Elspeth says:

    I didn’t think you were complaining about me! I was trying to point out that both you and I are both members of a silent majority.

    We’re being made to believe we’re part of a minority of closed minded bigots who must be opposed.

    The question moving forward is how far down the rabbit hole this linguistic evolution will take us.

    I guess we need to take Christ at hos word and prepare our hearts and minds for what is to cone.

    The constitution will not save us.

    Liked by 2 people

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