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Friday, April 1, 2011

Japan's Tiny Tim

Tired, are you, of hearing the phrase, "crippled nuclear reactor"?

If you jam to NPR in the car and your commute to work is at least half-an-hour in length one way, you will probably hear that phrase at least six times in one day. Google the phrase "crippled nuclear reactor" and you'll get around 934,000 hits. Do it without the quotation marks, and it'll surge to over 2.3 million. Type "Crippled Nuclear Power Plant" into the Googmonster and you'll come up with 2.2 million hits. Forsake those quotes and you'll soar to a Google-crippling 3.3 mil.

The Media (yes, the capitalization is intentional) has decided that "crippled" is the adjective of choice when referring to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

"Crippled" is THE ADJECTIVE.


It's an unfortunate choice of word, in 2011, methinks. It really conjures up images of polio-stricken children wearing little hoop-skirts, slinging themselves around pathetically on a set of metal crutches, gazing slightly open-mouthed and helpless at the camera on countless "March of Dimes" posters. Cripple. The first definition of the word in the Merriam Webster dictionary is "A person or animal that is partially disabled or unable to use a limb or limbs."

The example they use is, "Cannot race a horse that is a cripple."

Well, you can. It just probably won't come in first.

So, it's that second definition that has opened the door for countless media outlets to use the word "crippled" to refer to the nuclear power plant in Japan that is currently keeping people awake nights, checking to see if they're glowing in the dark:

"A damaged or defective object or device."

As in, "My Sqweel (the New Oral Sex Simulator for Her) is crippled due to a malfunction with the rotary gear that operates the cylindrical wheel of silicone tongues that stimulate the clitoris and labia to simulate oral sex."

I suppose a nuclear power plant can be classified as an "object" or a "device," but that's kind of a stretch in my opinion. I mean, a nuclear power plant, to me, is so mammoth, so impressive, and so comprised of tens of thousands of very impressive, individual objects and devices-- fuel rods and cooling towers and a bunch of other things I don't understand.

An "object" or a "device" just doesn't seem to cut it. I mean, a Sqweel? Sure, that's an object or a device. A 1966 Seiko 5 Automatic wristwatch? Yeah, that's an object or a device. But, like, if my watch stopped working one day, I'm not so sure that the first word I'd use to describe the unfortunate situation would be "crippled." I'd probably say, "broken." Or "fucked up." And I don't have a particularly poor vocabularly, I just don't know that I'd go to "crippled."

Plus, I thought that we, as a society, were kind of trying our best to distance ourselves from a word that was popular when Charles Dickens was alive and well. I mean, we don't go up to the black Ford Focus on the lot and say, "I'll have that negroid one."

Crippled is just so... icky.

I don't want to think of some poor, sad, bumpitty person all bent up like a pretzel every time someone in a newscaster voice decides to reference the disaster in Japan. I mean, it's not very P.C.

And, speaking of which, whatever happened to "people first language"? Like, I'm not "an Asthmatic." I'm "a Person With Asthma." I'm a PERSON FIRST, GODDAMNIT! And Fukushima is not "a crippled nuclear power plant." It's a "Nuclear Power Plant With a Disability!" It may be down-and-out and going through a rough time right now, but it's still a nuclear power plant FIRST! Save your demeaning, degrading "crippling" language for old, black-and-white footage of Walter Cronkite, baby.

Let's make this a P.C. disaster, my Media friends. I mean, this is 2011, an era where a chick and get off with a rotating, ten-tongued object or device if she wants to.

Get with the times.

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