‘Uncharitable’ is the Preferred Term

Uh, X is actually considered an offensive term for Z-types. It’s okay for other Z-types to calls us that, but not for someone else to. Y is the preferred term.

“Ah. Do you speak for all Z-types?”

Well…

“So, as I understand it, X is the most common term. It’s been in use for time immemorial. People use it naturally, with no thought of giving offense. There is, in fact, nothing offensive in the meaning, but you have now decided that this term is in fact offensive and should not be used, at least not by non-Z-types. Most people will not know that until told. Likely they will use the now-offensive term ‘X’ quite innocently, obliging you to correct them, inform them of its offensiveness, and so leave them with a sense of guilt for having unintentionally injured you. They will now approach people like you with greater caution and uncertainty.

“Tell me, is it charitable to lay such traps for people? To create a situation wherein they are very likely to make a mistake that touches upon one of their most cherished values and are made to feel shameful and anxious in your presence? Do Z-types really derive any greater sense of respect from this kind of thing?

“Especially when you admit that it is not the word ‘X’ itself, but only its use by the world at large that offends you. That is, you are imposing rules on other types that do not apply to your own, rules they are unlikely to discover until they violate them and you have the opportunity to correct them for it.

“It looks, in fact, almost as if your chief reason for this whole exercise is simply to have the pleasure of granting yourself an immediate sense of moral superiority over those you meet.”

2 thoughts on “‘Uncharitable’ is the Preferred Term

  1. An alternate path I think the dialogue might have taken, beginning with the second line:

    “I see. And what is your objection to ‘X’, specifically?”

    Oh, you know, the usual. It has inextricable connotations of ignorance and hatred.

    “How so?”

    Well, because it was the standard term throughout the past. So it’s how all those hateful and ignorant non-Z’s in the past used to refer to us.

    “Yes, but, by the same token, wasn’t it also used by all the past non-Z’s who were knowledgeable about Z-kind, as well as those whose ignorance of it was wholly benign?”

    …What do you mean?

    “Well, there were non-Z’s in the past who had an ordinary intelligent interest in Z-kind, you know. And there were other non-Z’s who just didn’t think about Z’s much, either to admire or despise. So…”

    No, there weren’t.

    “…Come again?”

    We Z’s were the minority throughout history. A member of a majority culture, as such, can’t help but be contemptuously ignorant of any minority culture within his own. Everyone knows that.

    “Oh, does he?”

    Sure. That’s why majority members – say, non-Z’s – who want to be regarded as decent people by Z’s and other minorities have to reject their native culture and denounce it at every opportunity. So you can’t…

    “Excuse me a moment. Where did you learn this rule?”

    Which?

    “About majority members always hating minority members.”

    Oh. I’m not sure, exactly. I think I just inferred it from the way my teachers and people on TV and so forth talked about the subject. Isn’t that how anyone learns anything, when you get right down to it?

    “And you didn’t think to check it for yourself by habitually reading old books and seeking out sources in which the members of the historical minority expressed their actual views on things?”

    Well, no.

    “And what about your teachers and the people on TV? Do you think they do those things?”

    Mm… dunno. One or two of them might, I guess.

    “But it doesn’t affect their authority if they don’t, in your mind.”

    No.

    “Then in what, if I may be so bold as to inquire, does that authority actually consist?”

    -And here I must sign off, because I genuinely have no idea how a Z, or anyone else, would answer that question. As near as I can make out, the authority is only accepted because the question has never been raised, but I know the human condition too well to believe that any normal interlocutor would immediately admit that. If anyone reading this has any further ideas, feel free to tack them on.

    Liked by 1 person

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