Taking a slide down the slippery slope of stupidity

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 28, 2001

As a left-hander, I’ve become very disturbed by the way this fine minority of Americans are being depicted.

Friday, September 28, 2001

As a left-hander, I’ve become very disturbed by the way this fine minority of Americans are being depicted. Also, the way the word left is being used all too often in our nation is just not right.

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Somehow, there’s been an implication that left is synonymous with the word sinister, and the political philosophy of liberal. Now, let’s first concentrate on the word association with sinister, or evil.

To help prove my point, here’s a quotation from a 1978 edition of The New Roget’s Thesaurus: &uot;left, adj., remaining, left over, residual (remainder); abandoned, forsaken, marooned (desertion); left-word, left-hand; sinister (direction), plus, &uot;left-handed, adj., sinistral, sinistromanual (appendage); awkward, backhanded, heavy-handed (clumsiness).&uot;

Very little of this sounds right at all. A check with a newer edition of a thesaurus by another publisher wasn’t any better. About the only correct comment I can make is that a thesaurus is not one of those wild critters residing in Jurassic Park.

Not long ago I heard one of the blabber mouths on either television or radio use the goofy &uot;left coast&uot; term. The intention was to make an obvious reference to California, its liberals, and all their sinister problems.

As a citizen who spent the first 18 years of life in Oregon, and served with the U.S. Army in both California and Washington (the state), I can rightly say this alleged left coast has to include all three states. To be even more correct, let’s add in several Mexican states and the Canadian province of British Columbia. After all, they have the Pacific Ocean as their edge of the ledge.

And just how can this left coast foolishness be determined? One dictionary says, &uot;… of or belonging to the side of a person or thing that’s turned toward the west when the subject is facing north.&uot;

Based on this somewhat flawed logic, a person living in Texas or coming from Mexico could thus consider California as the left coast. However, a person in this region rigidly following the same alleged rule would have to consider Oregon as the left coast state. In fact, that applies to anyone facing north from around Des Moines, Iowa, to St. Cloud. From St. Cloud to the Canadian border, the left coast is out in Washington (the state).

Yet, for someone coming south from Canada, the logical choice for the left coast is based on the Atlantic Ocean, which includes Washington (the D.C. one).

My copy of a dictionary says left-handed is &uot;clumsy or awkward,&uot; and I don’t think that’s right at all. This same dictionary says left refers to &uot;a liberal or radical political party or position.&uot;

Before the right-handers get too righteous, here’s another political-type definition from the same sad dictionary. One of the 28 ways to define the word right is this: &uot;… a conservative or reactionary political party or position.&uot;

I have absolutely no objection to the use of the words liberal, conservative, or even moderate to describe political briefs. I’m also in favor of using party labels to define those political philosophies even more. However, I firmly contend it’s absolutely wrong to use the word left for liberal and right for conservative.

To take this stupid logic one notch further, is a moderate considered to be neither right or left, but ambidextrous instead?

And what I think is really confusing is to see a political leader identified as being on the right and as an absolute conservative signing documents or autographs with his or her left hand. Something sure isn’t right with this scenario at all.

Feature writer Ed Shannon’s column appears Fridays in the Tribune.