I never would have guessed when I sat down to write Words That Piss Me Off in March 2010 that I was creating a smash hit.
Many of the words and phrases which sparked that furious rant were irritating proliferations of business English that made their way into daily use.
Don’t get me wrong, they still piss me off.
But more recent offences to the English language have their origins in an even more irritating realm. Most — but not all — of my latest linguistic hates festered like a pus-filled boil from the confused inner cloister of academia.
If twenty-first century English were a reality television series, it would be called Ideology Gone Wild.
Now, I’m not a fan of television, unreality or otherwise, but I’d much rather watch drunken college girls flash their perky parts at the camera than listen to these bun-clad bores whine about their latest grievance from their ‘safe space’.
I like to think I’m a pretty nice guy, a live and let live sort of person. But I’ve had enough of weak beta males crying ‘toxic masculinity’ over normal male traits they can’t hope to embody.
Let me propose a new research project for you man-shaming weaklings. Chart the number of so-called ‘male feminists’ playing the ally in the hopes of tricking themselves out of the friend zone with some poor deluded girl.
I remember a guy like that from uni. My wife was a member of a Japanese student’s association, and they were tasked with writing the group’s constitution so they could be listed as an official student group on campus.
There was one skinny white guy, an anime enthusiast, who kept ranting on about how important it was to protect the organization from predatory white guys who just wanted to sign up to get an Asian girlfriend. The poor guy worked himself up to the point of tears during one of his heartfelt addresses. He sure didn’t seem to like me very much either, when I was invited to their dinners.
But Hachimaki Andrew wouldn’t be an irritant for very long. He quit the group as soon as he got a Japanese girlfriend.
Three cheers for Andy: Hip hip Hippocrites…!
‘This is who I am’. Guess what? No one cares.
Know what I ‘identify’ as? Totally indifferent.
“What, you’re near-sighted, Moldovan AND a non-binary semi-straight shoe fetishist? Society must reward you for your incredible uniqueness. And anyone who remains unmoved is obviously committing a hate crime.”
“What about you?” you might ask.
I’m writing at the intersection of Dudenstrasse and Mehringdamm.
“What’s that? Your identity?”
No, it’s my address. We’re all individuals with a unique story to tell. Can’t we just leave it at that and move on?
‘Intersectionality’ is just the idea that it’s somehow exceptional not to have a one-dimensional life.
And another thing… yeah. ‘Cultural appropriation’. A term that belies total ignorance of how cultures form.
“You stole my culture,” cries the aggrieved party, after searching desperately for a cause to be offended by.
Stole your culture, did they? And then what? You just slumped in a blank stare like a Mac with a stolen operating system?
Cultures grow by a form of accretion, accumulating useful strategies, borrowing and lending, mixing and mingling just like people mix and mingle their genes when they travel to different parts of the world.
But we must put a stop to that — or at least become indignant about it.
The Japanese should never have started writing in kanji. They were guilty of cultural appropriation against China, a nation badly divided into competing ethnic groups at that time. And the same goes for their shameful theft of Buddhism. Of course, the Chinese appropriated it from the Indians, but we’ll deal with being offended by that later.
Let’s talk about Spain. You know what the Spaniards should have done when the Muslims invaded Andalusia? Stayed away from them. None of this fucking mingling of cultures. If they’d only segregated themselves into identity groups, we wouldn’t have flamenco, or that Moorish Alhambra architecture, or that uniquely mixed up cuisine.
But now we’re stuck with this mess because they didn’t have any social justice activists to utter the dreaded cry of “I’m offended!” in the Middle Ages. The only one who benefits from that is Michael O’Leary with his cheap Ryanair flights. Fucking capitalist.
Whew. I’m glad I got that off my chest. It’s sure to offend someone. But rest assured, I don’t deal in ‘dog whistles’ — a sound no one else can hear apart from the chronically aggrieved accuser.
I don’t do imaginary ‘micro-agressions’, either. Give me a good old fashioned macro-aggression any day. Why drop hints when you can deliver a knuckle sandwich?
I supposed that’s just part of my ‘lived experience’, whatever the hell that means. If it’s ‘un-lived’, then it isn’t an experience. It’s something you read or saw on TV.
Unless, of course, you’re dead. And if the dead are having experiences, we’ve got far bigger problems than imaginary grievances in the guise of ‘social justice’. Better start sharpening the stakes. No, not to burn heretics who are insensitive enough to disagree with you — stakes to impale vampires.
That’s different from the sort of steaks that repel vegans, but we can grill those up, too, because I’ve had just about enough of their religion disguised as a dietary diatribe. I don’t go around preaching my love of bacon, nagging people to convert to fried rashers or feel the guilt of destroying the earth, so don’t nag me about your man-boob-forming soy sludge or your desperate daily hunt for a complete source of protein.
Anyway, I think we’ve flogged those tired ideological trojan horses enough.
There are a few other words that piss me off which are outside the realm of the offence junkies, and I want to give them a good kick in the teeth, too.
Let’s start with ‘gifted’. Since when did that become a verb? When I was in school, ‘gifted’ referred to the smart nerdy kid who got extra math classes as some sort of punishment for winning the genetic lottery.
But now ‘gifted’ is a new term for giving someone something, as in, “Which book have you gifted the most?”
Let me gift you something right now. A piece of advice. Please stop saying that. It’s unbelievably irritating.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and what you’re about to say in response. “It is what it is”.
Thank you Captain Obvious. You’ve spouted a vapid truism disguised as a Zen koan.
Either that or you’ve misquoted Popeye. “I am what I am and that’s all that I am”. It doesn’t get any wiser than that.
I won’t even begin to ‘unpack’ these empty statements, not just because they’re empty, but because I hate that phrase, too.
Can’t we just go back to explaining things? I’m getting confused about which is a sentence and which is my suitcase. I’ll be packing sentences and writing my luggage before much longer, and that could really ruin a trip.
Speaking of vapid phrases, here’s another one. ‘Beautiful inside and out’. Unless you’re an x-ray technician or you’re manning the monitors at the proctology clinic, how would you know?
Finally, I’ll leave you with an irritating phrase which isn’t a phrase at all, but a mannerism. The double ‘is’. Please, if you’re a podcaster, banish this from your lexicon. Hire a speech therapist if you need to. But stop saying, “The fact is is that…”
Every time that happens, I disconnect and delete in a rage.
Speaking of rage, I really need to take a breather. I’m going to brew up a nice warm cup of Murdock’s Angry Tea, and I suggest you do, too.
I guarantee you’ll wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
There, doesn’t that feel better?