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Picture of Kalleh
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A reader of the Toronto Star complained about a newspaper headline that used the words "to fall on deaf ears." The reader said it was an insensitive and inappropriate phrase.

The public editor of the Chicago Tribune addressed the subject, saying,
quote:
Over the years this newspaper has become quite conscious about labelling people and has evolved standards of proper usage. Still, it seems to me, that this is a matter of evolving language. Some phrases stick around while others are gone after a few generations.

Despite the emails I expect to try to convince me otherwise, I don't think the phrase is insenstive or inappropriate.
Do you agree with the public editor? Is that phrase appropriate?

[edited for content, grammar, typos, spelling errors, and whatever! In my defense, I had edited this last night, but obviously it didn't take. My wireless sometimes fails me. Thanks for correcting me, Jerry.]

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good grief! is nothing sacred?!

or, to answer a bit more responsibly, although just as cynically, soon we won't be able to say anything metaphorical(ly).
 
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The quote is at the end of the article.

No, I don't think it's an "insensitive and inappropriate" phrase. I think the person who objected was being overly-sensitive. Deaf not only means incapable of hearing, but also "refusing to listen, heed, or be persuaded" (dictionary.com).
 
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Why did these unnamed and unquantified readers suggest that the phrase was insensitive? And what phrase would they have considered to have been better?

I would like to see more of the correspondence - although my first impression is that of the others who have replied so far - that it's a load of old politically correct nonsense.


Richard English
 
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I'd like to know how many deaf people complained. If there's one aspect of this modern trend that really annoys me, it's people who get offended on behalf of other people who weren't themselves in the least bit bothered.

It's hearing people who think we should avoid "fall on deaf ears" to avoid offending the deaf. It's sighted people who think we shouldn't say "turn a blind eye" in case a blind man is offended. It's white middle-class Christians who say we should ban nativity plays because some of the kids in the school are Moslem.

I'm all for sensitivity but to me the implication that another group who haven't complained are so fragile that they might complain is to me far more insensitive than any of the things that are being complained of.

Incidentally on the last one I, an atheist, always receive Christmas cards from students and have in the past had them from Hindu, Sikh, Moslem, Buddhist and Atheist students. The Koran, I'm told, even has a version of the nativity that is no more different from the other gospel versions than they are from each other except that Jesus is a prophet rather than a Messiah.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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A few years back there was a rumpus in the training world because someone complained about "brainstorming" and said it was demeaning to people who suffered from epilepsy. The suggestion was that we should call something stupid like "a mind-shower".

The controversy subsided when there were letters published in the training press from epileptics who said that they couldn't give a monkey's about the use of the term and so it came back into use.

I, of course, never stopped using it and I brainstorm away with my groups whenever I feel it's appropriate.


Richard English
 
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Picture of jerry thomas
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At last I got around to reading the article so now I understand that the phrase in question is "fall on deaf ears."

(Thanks for the link, Tinman.)

Somehow I had got the impression that it was "fall on deaf years," which I had never before encountered.
 
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I think I'll feel much better about the whole issue after a few moments gazing upon the Atheist Tree down at the town's seasonal display.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by BobHale:
I'd like to know how many deaf people complained.

I wondered the same thing, Bob. In this case it was a a leader of the deaf community, who I presume was deaf, who complained, but I wonder how many deaf people share this sentiment. I'm not even sure what the objection is, since I don't see how the phrase is demeaning to anyone.

From the article above:
quote:
A leader in her city's deaf community objected when the newspaper had a headline that used the words "falls on deaf ears." The Toronto writer described the phrase as "insensitive and inappropriate."
 
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K: You're right, No and no
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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quote:
At last I got around to reading the article so now I understand that the phrase in question is "fall on deaf ears."

(Thanks for the link, Tinman.)

Somehow I had got the impression that it was "fall on deaf years," which I had never before encountered.
As I posted in my edited version above, I had proofed this last night, but obviously the edit hadn't taken. I specifically remember changing "years" to "ears" and the first sentence was awkward, as well, with 2 "hads." Further I had changed it from "readers of the Chicago Tribune" to "a reader of the Toronto Star," thus answering the people who wondered how many readers there were and correcting who had made the complaint. We have just installed wireless, and sometimes it turns off just as I am posting something. I am sorry for all the confusion. Thanks, Jerry, for pointing out my error so that I could correct it once again. Some days it doesn't pay to get up! Wink

Thanks, Tinman, for posting the article so that people could see that, so far, there has only been one complaint. However, as you saw, that complaint had been from somebody in the deaf community. I suspect, with 6 million people in the Chicago area, we will hear more about this from Tribune readers. I will let you know.

Has anyone heard of this complaint before?

Richard, I had never heard of the brainstorming complaint. That one is just amazing! It would only apply to people with epilepsy in a very tangential way, and certainly competent neurologists would call it balderdash.

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I am surdaster, and I'm only offended by the chuckleheadedness of that complaint.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Love that word "chuckleheadedness."

Then there's "surdaster," which I could only find on the trustworthy WWFTD site.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Working around power tools for forty years has made it difficult for me to understand what's being said when there's background noise. Political Correctness is a fierce background noise.
 
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Picture of pearce
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quote:
Do you agree with the public editor? Is that phrase appropriate?
Deafinitely appropriate.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
and certainly competent neurologists would call it balderdash.

Oh No they would not go that far. They would omit the derdash, and double and pluralise the l
 
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quote:
Richard, I had never heard of the brainstorming complaint.

I've heard of it, too. Maybe there was no publicity over there. There's an article debunking the myth that "brainstorming" is un-PC at http://www.greencomms.com/index.jsp?i=100&s=1111


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Oh, Arnie, I am sure the PC discussion crossed the pond. Those kinds of discussions all do. It's just that I hadn't heard it, and I use the word "brainstorming" often enough in my job.

The controversy is even more unintellectual than I had imagined. They linked epilepsy and mental illness, and of course they are totally different. Many years ago people with epilepsy were thought to be mentally ill, but most have been enlightened on that.
 
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