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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 11.27.06

RICKY BLUE

No matter what you call it…

One of the most enduring predictions of George Orwell's 1984 was his description of 'newspeak,' the control of words by the state in order to control thought. Today, the struggle to control words is everywhere.

In a classic 'big brother' move last week the government of Canada denied cigarette companies the right to call any of their own products 'light' or 'mild,' implying that Canadians are not sensible enough to know that cigarettes so marked can kill them just as quickly as 'regulars.'

The Liberal Party of Canada is facing a major crisis because one of its leadership candidates suggested calling Quebec a "nation" in spite of the fact that more than one third of Quebec residents don't regard themselves as part of this so-called nation.

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay is attempting to rename Park Avenue over the protests of the people who populate it. This autocratic act was compounded by a condescending but remarkably revealing e-mail from the mayor's office labeling protestors as "neo-Montrealers."

The idea that same-sex couples can be "married" is still being resisted almost everywhere in spite of much official authorization. It seems that many ordinary people simply don't think it's true. Official organizations always facing this vexing problem: they can decree a change, but that doesn't guarantee that the public will accept it.

I first noticed this fight over words during the intense politicization of language known as 'political correctness.' This mostly academic movement theorized that by changing definitions you could change perceptions, and thereby change the world. So they created a universe of new labels to replace the old.

It began as well-intended, as in its attempt to create a new perception of victimized groups. 'Handicapped' people became 'physically challenged' and then 'differently-abled.' 'Coloured people' became 'black people' then 'Afro-Americans' and finally full circle back to 'people of colour.'

But somewhere along the line the spinning of words for political purposes got out of hand. For instance, notice how both sides of the abortion issue try to appear positive. Anti-abortionists don't want to seem "anti" anything so they call themselves pro-life. Pro-abortionists don't want to seem that they are in against life so they call themselves pro-choice.

Personally, I support both life and choice. So which side am I on?

Quebec separatists have softened their image by calling themselves "Quebec soveriegnists," even though they still want to separate Quebec from Canada. But "separatist" sounds like the kind of person who would start a civil war.

Environmentalists determined to stop suburban development in its tracks have managed to re-label swamps, notorious breeding grounds for snakes and mosquitoes, into ecologically correct and government protected 'wetlands,' notorious breeding grounds for snakes and mosquitoes.

It wasn't long until the commercial sector joined the fray. Soon there was no such thing as a 'used car,' only a 'pre-owned' one. I guess 'used' sounds, well, used. Funeral homes now refer to themselves as 'dignity providers.' And graves sound friendlier as a 'final disposition.'

Real estate agents feel no qualms about calling a hovel a 'fixer-upper.' Chairs too fragile to sit in have become valuable 'antiques.' And objects destined for the junkyard have become 'collectibles.'

On television I have heard re-runs referred to as: 'previously enjoyed episodes.' I suppose it won't be long until vomit is referred to as 'previously enjoyed pizza.' But I am an optimist. I have complete confidence in our language to survive this onslaught.

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