Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Language - Both Funny and Deadly

Language is arguably one of the most important of human abilities. The sharing of thoughts and ideas has enabled us to multiply our individual efforts and to achieve more than any species on earth.

Yet our misuse of language is often hard to understand and sometimes downright humorous. Words are misused and often say the opposite of what we actually mean. Rhode Islanders are especially picturesque in this regard.

"I could care less" is a very common Rhode Island expression used and understood by all. The person wants to show how little he or she cares about a subject, so little in fact that they could not care less, yet they say the exact opposite. Funny.

And now something not so funny.

"Abstinence only" sex education. How exactly do you teach someone how not to do something? Education is learning something not known before and yet children have been not having sex their entire lives up to that point. What might such a class sound like? "Don't have sex until you're married. Class dismissed".

On the other hand, teaching why one shouldn't have sex is more philosophy and opinion and should be left to parents and clergy, not to the public education system.

For example, I think we can all agree that teaching about the various world religions and cultures is legitimate public education. But teaching why one religion's view is preferable crosses the line and is clearly a violation of the US Constitution.

Maybe it's just me.