This week, Fox News attracted criticism for its continuing use of the term ‘homosexual,’ which according to GLAAD’s website, is a hateful slur that has fallen into disfavor with the LGBT community.
The criticism seems fair. Fox should stop using the word, and it’s almost absurd that they continue to use it despite the New York Times article that came out five days ago that made it clear that ‘homosexual’ is derisive. But, as long as we’re discussing offensive language being used in the media, I think it’s important to highlight the repeated use of the word ‘conservative’ by the other side of the discussion table. As many on the right know, conservative was deemed offensive roughly fifteen minutes ago, and the term ‘patriot’ is much preferred.
But despite protestation from patriot groups such as the Tea Party, liberal media outlets still use the flinch-worthy, outmoded term to refer to patriot Americans. Their resistance to adopting the nomenclature preferred by the groups themselves is indicative of their underlying bias against, and hatred towards, patriots.
Conservative is a term that is deeply rooted in prejudice. The difference between patriot and conservative is obvious when you simply deconstruct the word. “Con” by itself, a synonym for criminal, connotes evil and corruption. It presents an image of deception, of someone who is fraudulent and cannot be trusted. Often, the word “con” implicitly refers to a criminal, and while context is important in these situations, the primary use of the word is a pejorative one.
“Servative,” in turn, is only present in the word conservative but absent from its left-wing counterpart, “liberal.” When taken out of context and ignoring how language works, servative, while not a word, is evocative of someone who is servile. It makes the reader imagine someone who cannot think for themselves, who exists only to please the current system, and has no ability to truly understand real freedom – which is at complete odds with the message of the patriot movement.
Patriot, on the other hand, is much more lighthearted and it strips the language of connotative negatives. It’s more neutral, and beyond that, it’s what these groups of people identify with. Breaking down the word patriot illustrates this, as “pat” is pleasant and fun. Much like you would “pat” a dog on the head. The dog is happy, and it’s having a good time. Everybody is good. The suffix, “riot,” may seem somewhat problematic at first, but a quick Google search shows that riot is mostly used to refer to something that is hilarious or very funny. This coincides with the patriot movements overtones of finely honed humor and wit, as observed through their constant use of creative puns to refer to the president. A patriot says things like Obozo and Nobamacare. A conservative on the other hand, is overly concerned with actual policy issues and is offended at presumed affronts to their faith. A patriot bravely confronts a world that is at odds with them while preserving freedom, whereas a conservative is an outdated, racist old man who is mad that the world is changing.
Many are quick to point out that tone and context are important, and also the fact that patriots are technically conservative by definition. While this is true, it should be simple enough to understand that patriots do not like being referred to as conservatives, and if you’re entering the conversation without that basic level of respect – without leaving your antiquated language at the door and understanding that someone should be called what they wish to be called – you’re just highlighting your own prejudices and hatred of that group. Your neutrality is shown to be fraudulent, and it makes you a bad person.
Just like you shouldn’t refer to gay people as homosexuals, you shouldn’t refer to patriots as conservatives. If we can all update our dictionaries to March 2014, we can start to have real conversations and move past our differences.
Remember: effective dialog doesn’t happen without first bickering over trivial semantics.