by Dan Spoone
As I write this article, our nation is focused on the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. By the time you read this message, the trial will most likely have concluded. The purpose of this article is not to weigh in on the results of the trial, but to comment on some disturbing language I heard during the trial from both sides of the aisle. Versions of this language were used by the litigators, the senators and the broadcast media.
What language am I talking about? The word “blind” in all of its related forms, such as “blindly,” “blindsided,” “so obvious that Stevie Wonder could see it,” “you would have to be blind to not see (understand) the weight of the evidence.”
I’m angry! This cultural stereotype hurts our community. How do we fight language that has been part of our society for centuries?
I asked my Amazon Echo for the definition of the word “blind.” She responded with five primary definitions and 33 more definitions. The results really disturbed me. Here are a few examples.
As an adjective:
- Unable to see;
- Lacking the sense of sight;
As an adverb:
- Into a stupor at the point that consciousness is lost.
Several other definitions:
- Unwilling or unable to perceive or understand.
- Not characterized or determined by reason or control.
- Not having or based on reason or intelligence.
- Lacking all consciousness or awareness.
- Drunk – being in a temporary state in which one’s physical and mental faculties are impaired by excessive alcoholic drink; intoxicated.
- Hard to see or understand.
- Made without some prior knowledge.
- To make obscure or dark.
- To deprive of discernment, reason or judgment.
- To outshine, eclipse.
- An activity, organization or the life of concealing or masking action or purpose; subterfuge.
- Without the ability to see clearly, lacking visibility.
- Without guidance or forethought.
Does this bother you as much as it bothers me? Language matters! Blindness is a characteristic of most of us reading this message, but it does not mean that I’m a man who is blind and, therefore, unable to reason, understand or make a good decision. Our use of language implies that sight is good, and blind is bad. Is this fear? Is it ignorance? Is it just easy to pile onto a minority population with a limited voice to protest? Is it fair? Is it right? Does it continue to happen on a daily basis? Are you upset? Are you angry? What can we do to make a difference?
My belief is that we must first start by letting our politicians, media broadcasters, church congregations, neighbors and family members know that we are hurt and insulted when the word “blind” is used to denote someone with lack of intelligence, understanding or bad intentions.
Leslie and I were at our neighborhood grocery store this afternoon, and we were chatting with several of our neighbors at the deli counter. We brought up the use of the words “blindly,” “blindsided” and the reference to “it was so obvious that Stevie Wonder could see it.” They all agreed this was terrible, and it started a five-minute conversation. It made a difference! This cultural stereotype did not start yesterday, and it won’t end tomorrow.
Here’s my challenge to you: don’t stay silent! Speak out! Speak up! Speak often! Represent your community. Write a letter. Make a phone call. Send a text. Make your voice heard! Together we can get their attention. It’s just not right. Being blind is just fine with me. How about you?