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Sunday, July 13, 2008

What's the Difference Between a Black Hole & a White One? And Don't Be Naughty or Niggardly.....Political Correctness Circa 2008!

I was vaguely aware of this next story and actually, it was referenced in the comment section in a previous post. Believe it or not, a controversy is brewing over the usage of the term Black hole. Now the last time I checked, a black hole is supposed to pertain to a spatial anomaly (excuse the Star Trek connection)-a void in space with a gravitational pull that can suck anything in its wake. You do know the site is called Afronerd. Well a White Dallas County (TX) city official (Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield) during a recent civil servants' meeting referred to an internal bureaucratic matter as being a "black hole." Well the gentleman's remark set off a firestorm with a Black official that took the meaning to have a racial inference. Sigh. Sigh again. This is the "niggardly" chronicles all over again. I would surmise that over sensitivity mixed with scholastic ignorance makes for one hell of a drug. Let's take a closer look at this story, thanks to the Salt Lake Tribune:

At a recent meeting of city officials in Dallas County, Texas, a small racial brouhaha broke out. County commissioners were hashing out difficulties with way the central collections office handles traffic tickets. Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield found himself guilty of talking while white. He observed that the bureaucracy "has become a black hole" for lost paperwork. Fellow Commissioner John Wiley Price took great offense, shouting, "Excuse me!" That office, the black commissioner explained, has become a "white hole." Seizing on the outrage, Judge Thomas Jones demanded that Mayfield apologize for the "racially insensitive analogy," in the words of the Dallas Morning News' City Hall Blog.

Houston Chronicle science blogger Eric Berger notes that everyone should be "very glad that the central collections office has not become a white hole, a theoretical object that ejects matter from beyond its event horizon, rather than sucking it in. It wouldn't be fun for Dallas to find itself so near a quasar." Maybe so, but speaking metaphorically, if it were a white hole, that might suggest central collections was actually doing its job, ejecting paperwork in a timely fashion. Call me nostalgic, but there was a time when this sort of stupidity actually generated controversy. Remember the Washington, D.C., official who used the word "niggardly" correctly in a sentence only to lose his job? That at least generated debate.

But these days, stories like this vomit forth daily and, for the most part, we roll our eyes, chuckle a bit and shrug them off. Obviously, there's something to be said for ignoring the childish grievance-peddling that motivates so much of this nonsense. But the simple fact is that ignoring political correctness has done remarkably little to combat it. Meanwhile, people who make a big deal about it are often cast as the disgruntled obsessive ones.

And to learn more about "white" holes versus "black" ones, click on the link below for the article in its entirety:

Jonah Goldberg: The black hole of extreme political correctness

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