On Language, Perception and the Only Power We Really Have

The word ‘Idiot’

This post explains the necessity for a fearless use of the word ‘idiot’ found in the post entitled,  3 Rules for Success in Family Court Litigation.  That post is on the front page of this website.  It therein provides a practical primer on the modern manifestation of the Doctrine of Parens Patrea in family and probate courts.

Recall that the Doctrine of Parens Patriae is the notion that government (through courts) should stand as ‘Parent’ or ‘Protector’ to the most vulnerable within society:  the widow, the orphan and the idiot.

Lots has changed since the doctrine was first advanced in English common law in the early 1600’s. Women now run the state-level judiciary, so the idea that a ‘widow’ inherently needs protection (as opposed to maybe, sympathy) is silly.  The notion of idiocy now encompasses all manner of disagreeable behavior — it’s more metaphorical than clinical (the person we disagree with is an ‘idiot’, most of us conclude).

We use the word to emphasize disagreement (climate change Deniars/ Believers are ‘idiots’ we might say).

But, once upon a time, it was clinical — perhaps applying to the mentally ill, hopeless drug addict or  drunk, etc.  The ‘village idiot’ was someone who had issues not otherwise specified.

Regardless, if you’re offended by the use of the word ‘idiot’ now, I appeal to you:  don’t be blindly lead by your personal, fear-based perceptions of language.

Words are neither good nor bad, without the context of our personal perception.  Make the choice to release your fear (and its progeny, anger and hate).  In other words, don’t blame language for your personal choices, including your emotions.

Indeed, the notion that speech, alone, ‘triggers’ any emotive response is a dangerous fallacy, implying guilt for thought crimes (because all languages arise from thought).

A Personal History on Being Called Bad Names 

In my own life, I’ve been called lots of nasty words. But while some labels were intended as insults, they also grew on me.  Insults help me better understand why people receive me as they do (I see myself through their eyes).  For example, as a kid, I did have ‘big’ ears and a ‘snaggle’ tooth.  But change is the hallmark of youth — we’re all works in process.

As I matured, I grew to enjoy the word ‘cracker’ and the phrase ‘white trash’ — each of which I encountered as my circle became more diverse.  The use of either — whether in a serious or light-hearted context — tells me how open the user is to my own views on the absurdity of being a word Nazi.  Likewise, the straight-faced use of the phrase ‘white privilege’ now attunes me to other, darker aspects within people who use it (and drink that poison).

Truth is, I get ‘insulted’ lots — judges, bailiffs and lawyers are not the most civil people.  Frustration breeds anger, expressed through language.

Still, I try not to feel (or sense) offense, much less Outrage! whenever insults fly.  Someone else’s perception doesn’t define me.  I struggle with people who insist that they are ‘defined’ (or limited, hurt or embarrassed) by the language of another.

Grand parents (and close friends) have intermittently called me Scotty, but the name has also been abused by some who intend it as demeaning.  Likewise, my UH fraternity nickname was Pretty Boy, which I’ve always embraced.  Truthfully, it suits me (despite my snaggle tooth) and also suits the 80’s androgyny of my coming-of-age.

Later, when I ran for Student Government president at UH, my political slate (smartly called ACT Now!) was smeared as FAG Now! by the College Republicans (they called me scotty kay boat).  They drew vulgar (but amusing) parodies of my campaign signs.  Thus, we almost lost to a guy named (giggle-giggle) Al Anon.

Honestly, I’ve been called fag/ queer/ homo (and variations) a lot.  For whatever reason, religious-themed slurs also recur — infidel, godless, lost, etc. (yes, I have frequently been called ‘infidel’ by a particular acquaintance).

Even more interestingly, I was once involved in a ‘private matter’ in which a Private Investigator reported (with glee) that she’d ‘discovered’ that I was, as she termed it, homosexual.  Better yet, that my lover (at the time) was actually transgender.  But those findings were false and, indeed, rather queer.

Still, the P.I. had followed me, made her own conclusions about me (and my lover) and billed my opponent $2,500.00 for her expert findings.  At the time, I was into reading The Four Agreements (by Don Miguel Ruiz) and concluded:  the P.I.’s conclusions about me are her business and her truth, regardless of the fact that she’s wrong

Don Miquel Ruiz teaches that, what anyone else believes about us, is none of our business.  It’s really not enough to say, “I don’t care what others think about me.”  That’s bullshit.  I agree with Ruiz — you’ve got to accept that you are invading another’s thought-space by claiming you’ve any right to change (or even influence) another’s opinions of oneself. 

His Toltec wisdom is rational thinking.

Ultimately, the P.I.’s bizarre conclusions were utterly inconsequential to my life, except for this post.  At the end of this post, there’s a tribute explaining the religious experience I (often) enjoyed whenever I sought to answer the investigator’s findings about my former lover.

More recently, after I’d given a rousing, inspiring, speech to a group of Democrats when I was runningfor Houston City Council, a particular GOP gnome (a tiny little soul) posted the video on YouTube (after I declined to buy a $15k ‘ad’ in a voter’s guide).

Thus, Republican voters (in a non-partisan election) were subsequently Warned! in a radio commercial not to vote for me because I had ‘bought tables’ at annual Democratic dinners (I do love to eat while others drone, and enjoy inviting 9 other friends to do the same).  Thus, I was a Democrat, he said.

Almost simultaneously, a particular Democratic Fruitcake (who had a hideous stench about him) did the same thing after I was pictured with a bunch of Republican judicial candidates at one of their ritual events (no, not a cross burning).

Any way, the Demotard Fruitcake outed me as a Republican to his large list of devoted Dimokrat email readers.

Thus, I was labelled as a Democrat by one party freak and as a Republican by another.

Suffice it to say, I finished second (I lost).  Too many voters were more interested in a meaningless label than the absurdity of Houston’s drainage tax.  The incumbent author of the tax was narrowly re-elected.

But, I still know that words and labels are merely street noises from our journey.  I know I’ve not mentioned the disfavored ‘N’ word or ‘C’ word, but really, today, it’s all the same (unless you guzzle the Kool Aid).  When you restrict  language, you restrict the opportunity to live, and experience, a full life.

Call me a Democrat or a Republican or whatever.  I will always embrace my snaggle tooth.  But White Trash do that sort of thing.

Change Your Filter, Know Your Power

We have the power and choice to filter and attach meaning to other people’s (sometimes angry) words and phrases.  The context we place upon language also matters.  When someone tells me to ‘shut up‘ . . . it’s generally just filler.  But judges and bailiffs have also told me to ‘shut up’ and, even, to leave their courtrooms.

But they were simply experiencing a difficult moment.  Judges and bailiffs (male or female, regardless of melatonin) can be loud, rude, angry, and yes, idiots, just like everyone else.

Regardless, the emotions we take from words (including adulterer, bastard, whore, retard, etc.) are dependent upon personal standards.  Words are neither good nor bad, but thinking makes them so (that’s a conclusion echoed by every wise soul dating back to the first Buddhists 2,500 years ago).

Know your power:  take control of your own mind, heart and soul — and, indeed, perception.

Group Think Sucks and Your Kid Might Also

Group think imprisons us, including ‘accepted’ norms for words.  The society that demands consideration for the random feelings of others also embraces personal enslavement.  If we cannot speak as we choose, we are not free to think as we choose:  freedom is then clearly an illusion.

If there were laws against being ‘offended’ we’d all be better off.  That’s because the anger or joy one conjures from another’s word choice is, always, your choice. People who choose ‘offense’ are the same as poeple who choose to drink and drive, use a handgun in an assault, strike another person, etc.  Imagine the parents of the future disciplining their idiot kid for saying insanely childish things like: “That other kid made me cry!

Such little idiots are dangerous.  They grow up to create email lists and, ugh, vote.  They are predators, not victims.

Long Live ‘Idiot’

Idiot is merely a word.  Its Greek origin is quite fascinating.  Roughly, back in the day, people were either ‘official’ [that is, members of the governing class] or commoners [idiots].

Google ‘idiot’ and make up your own mind.

But, if you’re among those people who claim to get ‘triggered’ by speech, my sense is that you are a childish soul, at best. At worst, you’re a very real danger to human freedom, capable of destroying art, literature, expression and everything good about the human experience.

But, there are infinite political parties (and other religions) made just for you. I just wish that there were fewer safe spaces for you and more deserted islands (or zoos, museums or, even, prison cells).

/s/  Scott K. Boates

January 19, 2020

P.S.  a Lover’s tale . . .

Alas, whenever I checked under my former lover’s tail (I did so often, since she kept a personal trainer and a clean diet), there was no hangy-downy, nor any indication that one may have been previously present, but surgically inverted, etc.

Rather, she always sported an immaculately groomed, flower-like, perky pink vagina, that would make both Mother Mary and Bruce Jenner envious (and, likely, spoil their claims to fame).  I swear, whenever I gazed upon her power source, I saw the face of god, and indeed, fell to my knees (actually, I remained prone, face forward) and kissed my lord, mightily.

Truly, her whole presentation (no pun) assured me that she must have spent hours squatting upon a mirror, practicing expressions, or whatever.

She was always ready for her close-up.

Long live clean eating.