Are you an Istaphobe? (-ist a person who practices or is concerned with something) (-phobia a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it) Ist + Phobe = Istaphobe.
I’m sure you’ve heard the parable of the boy who cried wolf. If not, take the time to read it, and you’ll understand the purpose of this writing even further. Racist! Sexist! Misogynist! Homophobe! Xenophobe! These terms are utilized so frequently they have lost their respective meanings.
Years ago, the very thought of being labeled with any of these was the death knell to a career or any life in the public sphere. Now, they are utilized with such impunity they lack any serious depth of meaning. I know, why should you care?
Language is made up of words which are assigned a somewhat universal meaning. Unfortunately, when the meaning of words is perverted to mean something totally different or even blatantly incorrect, they lose their overall effectiveness. Where do we hear this blatant perversion of language taking place? The mainstream media, politicians, activists, all the way down to our elementary school playgrounds.
We all get our news from similar places: TV, Radio, Internet, etc. and this filters down to our children. The language they are exposed to by the media and we as parents forms the language they use.
I cannot say that I have not uttered at least one of these terms. When I did though, it was utilized in the proper context for the proper application of the definition. I have even had words utilized against me for no other purpose than to quell my thoughts or speech.
Are you an Istaphobe? Have you been called a racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobe, xenophobe, or any other term that ends with -ist or -phobe? How did it make you feel? Did it prevent you from speaking? Did it make you withdraw from an activity? Was it unfounded? When it happened to me, it made me angry. Why would anyone who even knows me consider me an istaphobe? Because it is a method to control the way we speak, think, and act.
Our First Amendment guarantees us the right to the free exercise of religion, the right to free speech and press, the right to assemble, the right to petition our government. But those who would seek to silence those thoughts and opinions can easily do so by labeling you an istaphobe of some form or fashion. Enough is enough!
If you want to see actual examples of Istaphobes, watch some old television or movies, they are full of all of these. They provide context for the use of the language today.
If you truly want to address an issue, shelve the mainstream media talking points and have a discussion with the person you disagree with. You’ll find more often than not, there is misunderstanding in either the sender’s message or the receiver’s interpretation and most likely both.
When it is no longer chic to address someone as an istaphobe, we may find out that our country isn’t as bad as we’re being led to believe.
|Chris King is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, Combat Veteran, and community activist. He has chosen Tucson Arizona as his home and enduring service project.|