Correcting Wording Matters

I went to a wedding reception a few weeks ago and was sat next to a leftist with whom I went to high school.  As one does on a dear friend’s special day (and every minute of every other day, lately), this guest and I began discussing Black Lives Matter.  During our exchange, he helpfully stopped the discourse to correct me on the correct way to refer to People Of Color™ this month, correctly.

“Don’t say blacks.  It’s…”



I was tickled that I was able to finish his sentence in the same way it makes the new learner of a language pleased the first time he asks for a menu in a foreign country and the waiter understands.  To be able to wield the idiosyncratic buzzwords of the left is one of life’s everyday pleasures in 2016, the way drive-in theaters were in the 50’s.

The encounter did remind me that correcting the language other adults use is one of the favorite pastimes of the left, the way volunteering or making a living is to those on the right.  But maybe you object to my generalization, saying: “Yeah Adam, Black Lives Matter want All Lives Matter to use their vernacular and vice versa; this isn’t about the left only.”  Yet when I Google “Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter” (without the quotes), I get 8 results on the first page which aren’t in the news section at the top.  Of the eight, guess how many want you to say “Black Lives Matter.” 


Because of the unusual left-wing fixation on making your tongue compliant, there is much hoopla in the opinion pages demanding you to refrain from the “harmful,” “racist,” and “perilous” phrase “All Lives Matter.”  The left is apoplectic if you say it, even if you’re a Person of Color™.  In an inexplicable attempt at comprehensiveness, has come up with a startling 9 super-helpful ways for leftists to correct non-leftists who are bigotedly using the obviously bigoted phrase.  That is, in the unlikely event that their leftist readers haven’t destroyed all contact with anyone who isn’t a true believer in all three legs of the Socialist-NonCisHeteroWhiteMaleist-Environmentalist triumvirate of Goodness.

One of the holier-than-thou Vox nonet explains why people who say “Black Lives Matter” are better than people who say “All Lives Matter” this way:

There are some implicit words that precede ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and they go something like this:

Because of the brutalizing and killing of black people at the hands of the police and the indifference of society in general and the criminal justice system in particular, it is important that we say that….

This is, of course, too long to fit on a shirt.

Black Lives Matter is about focus, not exclusion.  (Italics mine)

It should now be clear how annoyingly capricious the correctional crotchets of the left can be.  In case it isn’t, I’d like to offer my own holier-than-thou amendments following the logic laid forth by my leftist moral superiors (I do apologize for being redundant in that last phrase).

The Washington Post kept tabs on fatal police shootings in 2015 and parsed the demographics.  Out of just under 1000 total fatal shootings, they found 948 of the victims were male.  In a world where disparate outcomes are always the result of external bigotries, that’s a downright astonishingly infuriating proportion.  So clearly “Black Lives Matter” is overly broad for the same reason “All Lives Matter” is: The lives of women are not at any particular risk from police shootings.  Think about it: Can you name a woman killed by police?  Me neither.  Therefore, the group name should be “Male Black Lives Matter.”  But do bear in mind it’s about focus, not exclusion, and somehow it’s probably sexist to disagree with me.

But the new name isn’t quite right either because your risk of being shot by police depends heavily on your age also.  For example, people in the “under 18” group or in the “over 29” group are less at risk than the average American.  We don’t need the focus on safe people because it’s like the fire department dousing an unlit house.  Hence, The Washington Post statistics show the group should be renamed “Male Black Lives, Not Older Than 29 Nor Younger Than 18, Matter.”  After all, it’s not 9-year-olds getting shot by police, although sometimes they are murdered.  But it’s not by police, so what’s the big whoop?  The irreproachable tells me that “continued focus” on the 9-year-olds who are murdered is “diversionary.”  That’s so progressive it sounds nearly ruthless!  And of course, my new name for the group formerly known as BLM is about focus, not exclusion, and somehow it’s probably ageist to disagree with me.

The Washington Post also found that people are at greater risk of being shot by the police if they had a weapon in hand (e.g. Mario Woods).  Or were suicidal (e.g. La’Vante Biggs).  Or were mentally ill (e.g. Ralph Grenon).  Or ran from police (e.g.  Walter Scott).  We’ll have to mix these in so our focus can become truly laser-like.

The Washington Post data stops there, but I’m keen to go on because the more we really home in on the problem, the quicker we can put the fire out or get the waiter to bring your dinner or whichever of the Vox metaphors make you feel most smug at family found that in one dataset, over 40% of those killed by police were in the poorest 20% of areas -- Philando Castile’s car wasn’t a Lexus after all.  The Guardian, not to be outdone by The Washington Post, has also been keeping tabs on police shootings and has found that disproportionately, those who’ve committed crime are shot by police – for example, in the case of BLM poster-gentle giant Michael Brown, his criminal past was videotaped as recently as ten minutes before he attacked Darren Wilson and was shot.   And lastly, holding a toy gun is a risk factor, as in the shooting of John Crawford III.

So now we have a name.  The group who’s most at risk from police, aside from those actually attacking police, shall be represented by the name “Armed Black Male’s Lives, Not Older Than 29 Nor Younger Than 18, Who Are Poor Criminals, Suicidal or Crazy, and Who May Be Evading Arrest, Matter.”  ABMLNOT2NYT1WAPCSCWMBEAM.  It’s about focus, not exclusion, and if you disagree with the name I made up you’re a harmful, racist bigot putting ABMLNOT2NYT1WAPCSCWMBEA in peril. 

I’ve gotta say in the left’s defense, the unearned feeling of moral superiority though linguistic correction is great.  And it’s way easier than fixing anything.

You can listen to Adam’s weekly podcast here.

If you experience technical problems, please write to