What do House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s grandchildren call her? Just “grandparent?”
For that matter, does she call them “grandchildren?” No “grandson” or “granddaughter?” For that matter, how does the rest of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives in the upcoming 117th Congress address their mothers, sons, daughters, fathers — I’d like a full countdown.
In fact, I want recordings. I want a one-hour deposition in which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer talks about his three daughters without calling them his daughters. Or girls, or women, or “members of the distaff gender” or anything else. Nothing like that. I want receipts, dagnabbit.
Because as they say — if it’s good enough for Congress, it’s good enough for us.
On Friday, Speaker Pelosi, along with House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, revealed the proposed rules package for the incoming House. The media release announcing it is a predictable mishmash of Washingtonian nothingness.
However, buried in talk about how the new rules package “prioritizes ethics and accountability in the People’s House” and “creates a more accommodating process for ideas to be considered” was language about how it also “promotes inclusion and diversity.”
Well, of course it does, you may think to yourself. This phrase is uttered as an incantation over every bit of Democratic folderol, like a priest sprinkling holy water over some legislation or committee or what-have-you, making it more inclusive and diversified because the party of light is behind it. However, there’s a bit more to it than just empty promises.
Yes, there was the usual hollow verbiage: The effort to promote inclusion and diversity spells changes that would “establish the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth; require standing committees to include in their oversight plans a discussion of how committee work over the forthcoming Congress will address issues of inequities on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, or national origin” — which, I’m going to assume, means little more than a whole lot of donor clips and a few hours of C-SPAN 2 programming.
Things took a turn, however, when the news release noted that the 117th Congress would “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral.”
For instance, the proposed new rules state that “seamen” should now be “seafarers.”
And take this revised passage, which deals with prohibitions on hiring relatives: “In clause 8(c)(3) of rule XXIII, strike ‘father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in- law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, step-mother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, step-sister, half brother, half sister, grandson, or grand-daughter’ and insert ‘parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, first cousin, sibling’s child, spouse, parent-in-law, child-in-law, sibling-in-law, stepparent, step-child, stepsibling, half-sibling, or grandchild.'”
This is a monumental moment for gender rights. When it comes to the fact that “a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not retain the relative of such individual in a paid position,” we have language that would “honor all gender identities” by making it verboten for those numerous “gender identities” to get nepotistic patronage.
At some level, one marvels at the stupidity. Most of the politically correct changes have to do with House rule XXIII, which is the Code of Official Conduct. (As The Associated Press reported, “The change affected the text of only [the House rules]; it did not ban gender-specific language anywhere else.”) There are other changes that aren’t worth boring you with, although if you want to read through all of the seafarer-esque “gender identity” goodness, here are the official rules.
It’s easy to dismiss this as modern silliness. The “inclusive” language here is so ridiculous it wouldn’t be used by anyone in everyday life. Picture it:
“Oh, my parent’s sibling can’t make it tonight. Their gout is flaring up again.”
“You mean … you’re talking about your Uncle Ted, right?”
“Well, I’m not going to make assumptions about him. I mean, them. We’ve never really talked about what they want to be called. When he — well, they get over the gout, maybe we’ll sit down.”
Yes, this is a lazy sop to the kind of liberal who gets worked up by gendered language and goes through life with an editor’s pen, correcting transgressors with an aggressive scowl. Lazy though this sop may be, however, it’s not without consequence.
For every one of us having a laugh over this, remember this is part of a larger battle over what we say. As George Orwell wrote, “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better.”
Almost nobody may use these identifiers in any sense, either informal or official. They’re stupid, they’re stilted and, in this case, they somehow manage to make the wooden prose of House rules even more awkward.
However, this set of identifiers is a shibboleth to the left. If you’re the kind of person who files a report about a representative employing his aunt in a paid position — as opposed to saying that a sibling’s child is employing his parent’s sibling in contravention of the rules — you’ve failed a little test.
Of course, if you think this is a deliberate attempt to erode the English language and pretend that gender and biology don’t exist, you’ve failed a big test.
But then, nobody uses this language in real life. Take Christine Pelosi, daughter (well, child) of the House speaker.
Reacting to her parent’s decision to rip up the transcript of President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech last February: “In watching that, her reaction to that speech, I thought to myself, that’s an ‘Italian grandma move,'” she said in an appearance on Fox News. “I saw my grandmother do that years ago in her kitchen when there was a guest at my grandfather’s house … who was rude. She picked up the person’s plate without comment, we heard a crashing sound. She threw the plate away, sat down and didn’t say another word.”
Granted, this is a small sample size of how an average person processes familial relationships, but it’s not unrepresentative. I include it because the language in the House rules that purports to “[promote] inclusion and diversity” isn’t an attempt to have the language in the rules fit reality.
It’s an attempt to have the language in the rules shape reality. Language meant to corrupt thought, even in the smallest of ways, should always be our concern.
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