The Newest Pejorative: Community?

If you do not pay attention to the click-bait and so-called news links on your browser’s home page, you may find yourself out of the loop on so many things you might as well become a monk. Take my experience from a few weeks ago.

First, I learned that a female American celebrity once passed out and ended up in the hospital while “being intimate” with her spouse. She revealed that piece of personal history by including the incident in a recently published book. Of course, the person creating the post’s caption made it sound like the celebrity might have been the victim of domestic abuse or assault. Thankfully, that was not the case. It was just a medical problem.

Not only that, but I was also able to find out about something that might reduce my chances of dementia by 50%. Additionally, I was introduced to the best mayonnaise to use for tuna salad, and I was tempted to check out the results of the current season of Bachelorette. Not really, but the headline was eye-catching!

The thing that got my attention was the story about Chick-Fil-A being a racist organization. Yes, according to an online media outlet, which will remain nameless, the Chick messed up big time. In doing so, the company may have triggered a new attack on a commonly used word.

You see, someone commented on their disappointment that the Chick did not offer spicy chicken nuggets. In reply to the criticism, someone noted they would make certain the individual’s community would be the first to know if spicy nuggets made the menu.

I don’t know if these are spicy or not.
Please don’t hold that against me.

According to the article, that initial response caused a handful of comments, less than ten, complaining about Chick’s inappropriate response to the disappointed customer. Then, management decided an answer to those folks was required.

The company assured them the use of the word community was not intended to be offensive. It was just the word they used when referring to the city, town, area, or neighborhood their store served. That did not go over well with a bunch of people.

Yes, you guessed it! The profile picture of the individual grousing about the nuggets was not great, but it appeared the person was other than Caucasian. So, hundreds of people quickly accused the restaurant chain of being racist, and using an objectional term, community, was proof of their racism.

So, if you are tempted to use the term community in your blogging or writing, you may want to reconsider. Here are some alternatives to keep in mind: neighborhood, city, commune, hamlet, town, village, denizens, dwellers, inhabitants, residents, citizenry, culture, people, populace, public, and society!

I might be tempted to skip village, denizens, culture, inhabitants, and one or two others. Still, Merriam-Webster advised that those words were related to community and did not flag any as outdated or offensive.

© 2022

About S. Eric Jackson

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2 Responses to The Newest Pejorative: Community?

  1. Eric,
    I certain agree with your comments on this issue, but that raises a few questions.
    Could someone please explain to me why anyone takes any notice of the small minority that takes issue with such inconsequential comments? Do the complainers actually believe that what is being said is that offensive or are they just using that as an opportunity to create mischief? What would happen if the vast majority just ignored them? Would you say that these minority groups are starting to rule the majority? Is that the new form of democracy?
    What would happen if everybody took offence to everything that could remotely be construed politically incorrect? Is there any commonsense out there? What happened to freedom of expression? What about the old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”?
    Any takers?
    Regards. Phil

    • Phil,
      The unfortunate reality is that some people simply want to create mischief, while others have an agenda they hope to promote. In other cases, people have been conditioned to react to what they perceive to be offensive. And as I have noted before, social media, as well as other forms of modern communication, leads some people to engage in what is now being called trollish behavior. Not long ago, I was checking up on old colleagues and friends for a Facebook group an old friend was starting. He wanted to bring people with a common background together online. I reached out to one former colleague’s ex-wife to see if he was still with us, as many of our peers have passed on. Her response was that he was still living and hadn’t changed much. Now, instead of causing trouble at work, he sat in his garage all day playing the troll on social media. While she may have been exaggerating, that fits the personality of the guy I knew.

      I write on the issue of language and communication regularly because I am concerned with what I have seen over the last few decades. In the last half of the 20th Century, society, in this country at least, has changed. We have shifted from “words can never hurt me” to a time of “death by a thousand cuts.” One can point the finger of blame at a number of reasons this may have occurred, but the cause or causes are of little consequence. We now live in a time when the slightest offense, real or perceived, can lead to viral social media posts, demonstrations in the streets, and damage to life and property. One problem, as in this case, is corporate sensitivity to criticism. The corporate response to the initial incident allowed an activist online publication to make this “Home Page” news on every browser in the U. S. Whether this is simply a matter of societal shifts or a campaign by various organizations to foment conflict is impossible to know at this point. I fear the latter.


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