Watercooler: Speech

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Yo, everyone.

President Obama is coming to visit Austin, Texas tomorrow on an expensive visit. After stopping in San Antonio he’ll come to Austin for a $250/ticket fundraiser or a $25,000/plate dinner.

Of course, Occupy Austin is planning a protest. You’d think we were actually threatening to single-handedly hand the keys to the White House over to Mitt Romney the way some people react. When I was younger, I remember the clichéd phrase, “America Love It Or Leave It!” was short-hand for a certain kind of jingoistic, mindless right-wing thought. Activists who dare to speak out against policies of the current administration receive the same kind of reactionary thoughtlessness, only from so-called liberals. I think it’s a sign of how bankrupt electoral politics have become that we are told we must swallow every violent, unethical, or inhumane policy of our rulers without a peep or else we must be endorsing the Republicans.

To me, free speech means we have an obligation to speak out when we disagree with the policies of our leaders, even if you happen to be someone who might vote for them on election day. People say you’re wasting your voice if you don’t vote, but let’s flip it around — what good are you really doing if all you do is vote?

Speaking of speech, as a writer I was charmed by a blog post that a friend shared, reporting that children solved a 250-year old problem in the English language. Grammar Girl reports that some kids are now using the slang ‘yo’ as a gender-neutral pronoun:

To test the theory, Stotko and Troyer showed kids a cartoon with a goofy-looking person, but the kids couldn’t tell whether the person was male or female. Then they asked the kids to write a slang caption for the cartoon. Some of the kids wrote, “Yo crazy,” instead of “He or she crazy,” or “They crazy.” Follow-up research showed that kids definitely intended yo to mean “he or she.” They used yo as a pronoun.

This is the latest open thread. What’s on your mind?