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Tiger Woods and Words: Two Cases of Political Correctness Gone Too Far

People suck. They’re also cruel, heartless, and damned picky. Then again, maybe I should watch what I’m saying because I may offend someone, like the people who came up with this list of offensive words.

This is one of two incidents this week that has popped up to show the world how overboard some people have taken political correctness (a term that should be right up there with a lot of other offensive words), and how restrictive we need to be. The first involved pro-golfer Tiger Woods, who when asked about his poor performance, responded with:

“I was so in control from tee to green, the best I’ve played for years… But as soon as I got on the green I was a spaz.”

That set Paralympian Dami Tanni Grey Thompson off, and forced an apology by Tiger. There are two things wrong with this entire situation. The first is that Tanni Grey Thompson was offended by a comment in no way aimed at her. The second is that Woods apologized.

In one of those odd twists of fate, the Mac OS 10 dictionary uses this line for spaz: lose physical or emotional control : he offered a post-game assessment: “I spazzed out real bad.”

Obviously, that’s being used in the same manner as Woods spoke it. Why can people no longer use a generic slang term without being attacked? Woods should be offended that someone was offended, not apologize as he didn’t do anything wrong. It’s about context. If Woods looked Thompson in they eye and called her a spaz, so be it. If anything, Woods was offending himself, and he has every right to do so without being forced into what was surely a false apology set up by a PR representative.

Can I call Tiger Woods “cool” without offending popular people?

The second thing this week that should irk anyone with a lick of common sense was this list by the BBC of the ten most offensive words to use towards handic… err, people with disabil… err, people who aren’t ri… err, wheelchair boun…, err, you know what? Screw it. This list apparently indicates words that can’t be used as a descriptor or insults. Since I wouldn’t want to risk offending anyone (as if I hadn’t already), you can figure out where this is going.

The list does contain words that are, of course, completely wrong. A couple may not seem familiar or relevant, but different parts of the world have different cultures. I had never heard the term Mong, but after looking it up, it seems to refer to stupid people in general, not necessarily the handi… err, disable… err… see where this ends up?

The majority of the words that ended up on this poll are simply baffling. How in the hell is “wheelchair-bound” offensive? What are we supposed to say when speaking of a person in a wheelchair?

“Hey Bob! You meet the new guy in accounting? He’s in one of those human-propelled moving seats.”

What if you witnessed someone in a wheelchair robbing a bank? What do we say to the cops?

“He had brown hair, kinda short since he was sitting, oh, and he was moving pretty quick in an assisted moving apparatus.”

Come on people. Grow up. If you have a handicap (yes, I typed that dreadful word), I’m sorry. So do I. I have trouble walking and occasionally use a wheelchair for long distances because of a back injury. One of my co-workers called me “Brokeback” this week and I laughed my ass off. If you can’t see the humor in that, then it’s amazing you get through life as you do.

Things happen. Maybe you were born with it. Maybe it happened to you late in life. Maybe you were even cured. Whatever the case, there’s not enough time in life to sit and bitch about something every time someone says “spaz,” a word that may offend all of two people who took it personally.

As for the list: “Brave” is not an offensive word. EVER. I’ve looked it up in three different international dictionaries, and unless I missed a foreign language one, it’s absolutely absurd that 163 people found this to be offensive according to this poll. It worries me what was thought of but missed inclusion in the top 10.

Speaking of moving on, I’ll be doing just that. There’s no point in continuing about a topic that shouldn’t need to be brought out for discussion in the first place. Move along people, as there are far better things to do.

Damn Mongs.

About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can follow Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    What a spaz you are! Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

    I never realized that wheelchair bound was offensive.

    We need a term for those offended by stupid stuff like this…I’ll work on it and get back to you.

  • sal m

    i think all descriptive words should be banned as they are clearly all offensive.

    furthermore, the act of decribing something should be deemed universally abhorrent. clearly there is no reason to ever describe anything since descriptions are by nature bound to be offensive to somebody somewhere.

  • http://www.capc.co.uk Laura Midgley

    We at the Campaign Against Political Correctness in England – http://www.capc.co.uk – have covered this very issue and if you read into the BBC’s spokesmen’s comments they are actually rather helpful as they make the case against political correctness perfectly!

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    So, would it annoy y’all if I describe this as two wops, one pom, and one septic whining about political correctness?

    Would it matter if I didn’t know all of those terms have been used as insults against people like y’all?

    Fact of the matter is, if “spaz” is a generic term, then “nigger” is also a generic term, and so are all the other insults people have used to tear each other down for no good reason.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Well if he was in the Paralympic Masters and he putted like a spaz he would have won.

    That makes both parties happy.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Victor – what’s a pom and a septic? I know what a wop is, but I’ve never heard the other two.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com Christopher Rose

    Andy – a pom, usually in the phrase “pommy bastards” is what the Aussies call us Brits. Not sure of the origin, you’d have to ask one of them!

    As for septic, I’m afraid that’s you lot in the USA. It’s from Cockney rhyming slang; septic tanks = yanks! Septics does get used even to this day.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I figured the septic thing was something along those lines. But that hepls to clarify what Victor was saying. btw, I’m not annoyed by it…I might be if I knew which one I was! Am I the septic thing or the wop thing?

  • MCH

    Chris;

    Ah-hah! In the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian,” twice Anthony Hopkins answered the question if he was English, “No, I’m not a pommy.” I had no what he meant until now.

  • MCH

    should read “I had no CLUE what he meant until now.”

  • SpazzCat

    Well, I guess I’m going to have to change my name… I’m a special and brave handicapped wheelchair-bound person, married to a wonderful man and I have a great job that brings in over $3,000 a month. I do get spastic on a few occasions at physical therapy. My husband calls me SpazzCat because I love cats! I think it’s hilarious! Psycho is one of my favorite movies, by the way.

  • sal m

    somebody wrote:
    “So, would it annoy y’all if I describe this as two wops, one pom, and one septic whining about political correctness?

    Fact of the matter is, if “spaz” is a generic term, then “nigger” is also a generic term, and so are all the other insults people have used to tear each other down for no good reason.”

    thanks for making my point…ban all descriptive adjectives…because there are people out there who equate all descriptive terms to words like “nigger.”

  • sal m

    andy:
    you’re not the wop…but i think there’s the makings of a great joke here…so i’ll start it off and see how you guys finish it…

    “two wops, one pom, and a septic walk into a bar…”

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    That’s why you’re supposed to go through Ellis Island to get your green card, so you can get colorful names like giny and wop.

    sal – I’m gonna have to think on that joke for a while…it does have potential though…it does seem to me though that wop and septic fit me…although, I’m only half wop…