Monday, July 13, 2009

Word Salad

This time in a headline I read over the weekend:

College culture wars: Campuses seek balance.

How do you seek balance in a war? And what, exactly, is the culture people wage war over?

You may know that I hate (hate!) that term "culture war." It's such an odd combination of two different words, both now with muzzy meanings.

Take the word "culture." Many people think that it's about books and music or about which fork to use to eat jellied crab puffs or about something not truly important. Yet in this particular context that word hides and distorts issues of justice, freedom and respect. But because many who write about the so-called culture wars are spectators to them the whole term has taken that spectatorish feeling. Then one can sigh and mutter about the importance to get past such irrelevant crap.

At the same time, culture wars are all about women's rights and lives and about the rights and lives of gays and lesbians. Culture wars are about 'traditional family', about power relationships inside it and ultimately even about money. Because a wife in a traditional family will not have the same earnings capacity or rights as a husband.

To call the debates over all that "wars" places a false equivalency on the debating sides and eradicates the history which we all share and which is not a history of equal treatment of all people. Note also that one side (guess which) in the debate wants to reduce the lives of the other side, whereas that side only fights in self-defense. "War" is a bad term for something like that. "Occupation" might be a better one.