Poligags :: America's Fix Tank


Month: September, 2014

People Who Say “People That”

A Shocking Hourly Wage - Inequality for All

We’re not going into a tirade here about your grammar. Or the difference between “their,” “there” and “they’re”. There is something that rankles us, though, and we do believe creates an important distinction:

People are WHOs – not WHATs

“BFD,” you say. No. Seriously. It’s important, and here’s why:

Throughout history, groups of people have seen fit to view other groups as somehow threatening to their way of life. In civilized societies, though, there are norms and taboos that deter acting on the sense that “otherness” justifies eradication. So a process of dehumanization or subhumanization is put into place, so that it seems that the “other” is inconsequential and undeserving of humane treatment. Once the “other” is no longer seen as quite human, or has been objectified, the taboos no longer apply. The “other” can be subjugated, enslaved, tortured, murdered or an entire class of “others” can be targeted for genocide.

Who versus What is a tiny, insidious means of subhumanization. “What” refers to a thing – a thing you can point to and say “that”. So, unless you only receive robocalls, you probably would never say “What’s on the phone?” because the answer likely isn’t “That’s on the phone”. There is an assumption that a human (the only question being which out of 7 billion) has dialed with the intention of speaking with you. You acknowledge a full-fledged person is likely at the other end of the call. By contrast, asking “What’s for dinner?” pretty much rules out that you’re a cannibal.

By falling into the linguistic trap of saying “A person that…” we objectify one another. We fail to acknowledge a person’s humanity. Maybe that’s why the Powers-That-Be have felt quite comfortable paying those pesky, subhuman servers $2.13/hr for over 20 years. Maybe this is why they off-shore jobs to unseen subhumans elsewhere “that” they can pay even less. Maybe it’s the reason there has to be a Fight for $15 – because Workers must gain recognition of their humanity to wrest from the Powers a sustainable wage worthy of people.

We admire and respect Robert Reich, whose webpage we used to illustrate our point. Inequality for All is a well-done and fact-full film, and we urge you to see it. However, even in this screen grab, the linguistic trap was baited and taken.

Let’s commit to changing our lexicon, recognizing that we’re all people, and referring to one another as WHOs, not WHATs.

 © 2014 Poligags


“The” Prescription for Voter Apathy

Having recently read Alternet’s “Noam Chomsky: Why Americans Know So Much About Sports But So Little About World Affairs” we believe we have arrived at the prescription for voter apathy:

  • call elections “All-star” or, in the case of general elections, “Championship” games
  • refer to the parties as “leagues”
  • call the candidates “players”
  • provide box scores instead of polls
  • make collectible trading cards with stats/standings substituting for position statements

Boom! Done!

 © 2014 Poligags


We’ve lost count of how many videos we’ve seen in which police have been caught in the deplorable act of acting badly. Stories abound in which, depending upon a citizen’s race or other defining characteristics, one individual will be treated entirely differently than another in a similar situation, often with gut-wrenching outcomes. We’ve heard the arguments for and against “militarization” of police forces throughout the country and the government-administered programs that make it possible for them to amass such materiel.

This article is not about race relations or the militarization of policing entities. Instead, we want to direct attention to the training of those who have and use high-tech and sometimes sophisticated equipment in the course of their duties.

Recently, in San Diego (where Poligags was first founded), a troubled man was seen in a park, randomly aiming a gun here and there. A Boys & Girls Club group of 100 children was reportedly near by. The police, naturally, were called to the scene. A videographer was also there, and captured the events as they transpired (watch video here).

What we find noteworthy, is that SDPD, like many departments, responded, some with riot gear. But they used it defensively.

The “cop cluster” seen in the video could have sprayed countless projectiles going for the kill shot. They shot once, disabling the gunman, later identified as Lance Tamayo. Then they talked him into moving a safe distance from the weapon so that he was no longer a threat. That, alone, took a half hour.

The San Diego Police demonstrated restraint. They used judgment. They exercised patience and the standard of necessary force. They employed their training. That is where our focus should lie.

© 2014 Poligags