Sunday, January 09, 2011

'Mother,' 'Father' Changing to 'Parent One,' 'Parent Two' on Passport Applications

Here we go again, from the same people who brought you plural third person pronouns as substitutes for third person singular (gasp!) masculine nouns.

I used to teach Japanese business executives English in Tokyo. I used to wonder what went through their minds when they read wrenchingly illogical American convolutions such as: "If ANYONE needs to use the men's room, THEY can find it at the end of the hall." And now we have the iniquitous folly of "Parent One" and "Parent Two." While they're at it, why not add "Three" and "Four"? And replace "Son" and "Daughter" with "Child One" and "Child Two"?

Would anyone like to hazard a guess what's really behind this desire to neuter language? And please don't anyone be so boorish as to say "the civil rights of gays"!


Anonymous said...


This isn't a difficult question. The purpose of such is manifestly NOT to take account of the times when "everyone" intends a plural group. Instead, having been on a college campus when this transformation became all but obligatory, I can be quite sure that the effort is to use the language to control the thought. Imagine talking about Christ without ever talking about sin and our need for a savior. People try this all the time because attempts to divorce the "real" Jesus from the "Jesus of faith" or the "Old ideas about Jesus from the thinking of most moderns have been such a success.

"Discrimination" is, recently, always a bad thing.

"Patriarchy" is, similarly, a bad thing.


Pertinacious Papist said...

Hi Chris,

Your comment is provocative in the best way. First, and least importantly, it raises the question of HOW language is being used to control thought. What I have in mind here is the question, who is doing the controlling, and how does this work? At one end of the spectrum would be conspiracy theories, which I find least plausible. Toward the other end, something more interesting, involving the self-censorship of individuals who might say "he" in one group, but use "they" in another because of the tangible social pressure of political correctness. How this pressure exerts itself is something I find fascinating, if abhorrent.

Second, and more to the point of your comment, you couch the issue in the context of the religious question by bringing up speaking about Christ. This recalls for me the experience of my first exposure to the early plays of Karol Wojtyla, such as The Jewler's Shop, which was turned into a film, and, more to the point here, Radiation of Fatherhood. I am not sure to what degree the sentiments that arise in this play reflect the loss of Wojtyla's own father in his youth, but there is a great deal here that underscores the irreplaceable importance of a father's love in a son's or daughter's life. When I think of the trajectory from early TV sitcoms like "Father Knows Best" to later ones like "Married ... with Children," and more recent fare, it's not hard to see that there is an attack underway on patriarchy. What would interest me is data to support the contention (which I would not find the least surprising) that this attack is animated by a simultaneous revulsion against the Trinitarian notion of God the Heavenly Father.

Pertinacious Papist said...
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