Of the many reactions to the recent newsletter titled, The Spectacle of the Woke Testicle, the suggestion I behaved inappropriately most captured my attention. Who decides what is appropriate? And, in what way did my associating my laptop with my testicle violate some unstated moral value? That word, inappropriate, sent me down a labyrinthine rabbit hole. Instead of White Rabbits, Caterpillars, and Pocket Watches, I discovered problems of judgment, dialogue, intimacy, consent, and freedom.
Consider a few definitions:
The Oxford University dictionary describes inappropriate as an adjective meaning not suitable or proper in the circumstances. Here, obfuscation occurs. Just what circumstances are implied?
Merriam Webster defines the word as unsuitable. Who decides the suitable?
The online Your Dictionary provides the most information:
The definition of inappropriate is someone or something that is not within the bounds of what is considered appropriate or socially acceptable.
The definition baffles. Precisely which bounds apply here? Neither the constraints nor the acceptability nor the appropriateness is indicated by the definition. In other words, the word, inappropriate, invites the question:
Who selects what is fair, decent or respectable?
These definitions all fail to provide precision which leads to the:
Proclaiming a behavior inappropriate delivers a judgmental, shaming, and inaccurate description of the recipient. The proclamation:
Your shirt is inappropriate fails to indicate in what manner the wearer should clothe him or herself.
Your use of the word, testicle, is inappropriate suffers the same fate.
What, then, is the appropriate language to use in the Apple store? The question goes unanswered. Somewhere subtly exists the suggestion of avoiding insult, hurt, or injury, while destroying the power and competency of the Apple technician is ignored.
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