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Iona

Senior Member
English England
and THANKYOU Jim for your words...I am not a one off ... there are thousands of people who think like me !
 
  • Iona

    Senior Member
    English England
    Well- I'm not sure of how 'gay' came to be attributed to homosexuals maybe someone can enlighten me? BUT it was (originally at least) a more pleasant alternative to faggot,bent, queer etc .. other words that were 'nicked' or forced upon them ;)
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    "life is too short to cause offence ... Your bar is a bit of an exception maybe?
    Unfortunately, there are people out there who insist on being offended. Worst of all are the people who get offended on behalf of other people.

    There was a recent court case in Scotland where a man was prosecuted for revving his car engine in a racist manner. How the driver was supposed to know the religious affiliation of a couple of pedestrians, is beyond me.
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    Unfortunately, there are people out there who insist on being offended. Worst of all are the people who get offended on behalf of other people.

    There was a recent court case in Scotland where a man was prosecuted for revving his car engine in a racist manner. How the driver was supposed to know the religious affiliation of a couple of pedestrians, is beyond me.
    No, worst of all are the people who deliberately and knowingly give offence.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    There was a recent court case in Scotland where a man was prosecuted for revving his car engine in a racist manner. How the driver was supposed to know the religious affiliation of a couple of pedestrians, is beyond me.
    Racism and religious bigotry are not the same. And in Scotland it is easy to know the religious affiliation of many people - football colours can tell you a lot, for example - as can wearing a turban, a yarmulka. Perhaps the wife was dressed as many Muslim women do — very identifiably!
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Mod note: This is getting more than a little bit away from the thread topic. Closely related comments about Post#1 are ok, and so are those with some direct relationship to it, albeit farther afield. There are limits to what can be construed as pertinent to the thread topic.
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Well- I'm not sure of how 'gay' came to be attributed to homosexuals maybe someone can enlighten me? BUT it was (originally at least) a more pleasant alternative to faggot,bent, queer etc .. other words that were 'nicked' or forced upon them ;)
    "Gay" meaning 'merry' has had a negative connotation (overindulgence in pleasures) since the 1600s when "a gay man" just meant 'a rake' and that usage remained very common until recently in phrases like "a gay dog." The OED quotes a physician from 1897 writing "My patient was a married man who admitted having been very gay in early life" with no notion of homosexuality implied.

    The usage was first extended to women (mid 1800s) where it implied at least lack of morals, usually prostitution.

    The first citation regarding homosexual behavior is for 'geycat' for a homosexual boy in a 1935 dictionary of underworld and prison slang.

    But Noel Coward wrote a song in 1929 called "Green Carnation" (an Oscar Wilde reference) containing the line:

    And as we are the reason
    For the "Nineties" being gay,
    We all wear a green carnation.

    In 1938's Bringing Up Baby Cary Grant, dressed in a woman's robe, declares he "just went gay all of a sudden."

    After that it's pretty much everywhere.
     

    Iona

    Senior Member
    English England
    Brioche -Unfortunately, there are people out there who insist on being offended. Worst of all are the people who get offended on behalf of other people.

    I think this subject has perhaps reached its zenith - the above comment is just not worth answering ...

     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Brioche -Unfortunately, there are people out there who insist on being offended. Worst of all are the people who get offended on behalf of other people.

    I think this subject has perhaps reached its zenith - the above comment is just not worth answering ...
    I think it's intelligent and to the point. Consensus is the sine qua non of any nation under Law, and of the society it serves. Norms of offensiveness established by consensus are good, they work, they give guidelines for how to deal with offensiveness-- shame it and shun it.

    Otherwise we have entitled license on one extreme, and ruinous litigation on the other. Leaving to each "offended" individual to determine for himself what is offensive is the secular-humanist Progressive's logic reduced ad absurdam. People can conceive offenses that never before existed in civil society, and insist on their being given "respect." This becomes a malicious and aggressive act when carried to the extreme, and there is nothing in the logic of allowing subjectivity and "feelings" such supremacy-- to deter exactly this from happening.

    Being offended on behalf of other people is indeed another step over a boundary that is already way outstretched. It can be done in ignorance and even bigotry, as in the case of people who smugly correct anyone who doesn't use "native American" or some other double-jowlful of syllables-- on behalf of people who are in many cases offended by exactly that term, if you but asked them.
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    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Personally, foxfirebrand says it all and I agree pretty well 100%. I too, am fed up with all these euphemisms and 'political correctness'. I've always believed in calling a spade a spade and if someone doesn't like it, they know what they can do! Of course that does not mean I can gratuitously insult someone, but speaking the truth should not be construed as insulting.

    In this regard, why do we have to bother with these asinine definitions? An American is an American? What's with this 'afro-american', 'hispano-american' nonsense? What do we call the others - 'euro-americans', 'white americans', 'saxo-americans' or whatever?
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I think this subject has perhaps reached its zenith - the above comment is just not worth answering ...
    I think the word you are looking for is nadir :D

    It's another word we pinched from Arabic, and means the exact opposite of zenith.
     

    Iona

    Senior Member
    English England
    Porteño said:

    I've always believed in calling a spade a spade and if someone doesn't like it, they know what they can do! Of course that does not mean I can gratuitously insult someone, but speaking the truth should not be construed as insulting.

    Porteno- If by calling 'a spade a spade' you mean just that, I agree... but what and whose spade exactly? .. spades can be used to dig holes and bury too . I've heard people say 'that idea is spastic ,or gay ' 'don't be such a jew' ..etc many times . My question is , why use words that denote groups in society ? Why not REALLY call a spade a spade by saying ...that's a stupid/crap idea or don't be so mean/tight fisted ..for me this is calling a spade a spade ...
    it's being indirectly 'gratuitously insulting' to handicapped , homosexual and Jewish people (to name but a few) -to pin point their social group as a term for insult .. it's what I call linguistic bullying and on a par with censorship , albeit on the other end of the scale.
    Worst of all are the people who get offended on behalf of other people... moving (physically or mentally)outside your own social tunnel is sometimes enlightening ... this is why in the sixties many people supported groups that were outside their own -
    Brioche - that's what I get for trying to be ironic:eek: it doesn't always work !
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    I would only like to interject a simple query, isn't "getting offended on behalf of other people," especially when one is in a better position to defend them than they may be to defend themselves, a basic tenet of the empathy the Judeo-Christian societies have been paying lip service to lo these many centuries?

    Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    What? Call a spade a spade? Any student of language knows that the word "spade" has, among other meanings, one that refers to a group of humans. You dig?

    Online etymology dict. says...."To call a spade a spade "use blunt language" (1542) translates a Gk. proverb (known to the Romans), but Erasmus mistook Gk. skaphe "trough, bowl" for a derivative of the stem of skaptein "to dig," and the mistake has stuck. The original, then, is "to call a bowl a bowl." "

    It adds, in a secondary definition, "
    Derogatory meaning "black person" is 1928, from the color of the playing card symbol."

    So, let's all stand up and chastise users of the older phrase, because, who knows, it just might be taken as a reference, however indirect, to something else which just might be offensive, despite the obvious contextual clues that the second usage is nowhere to be found in the first.

    Sensitivity is good. Oversensitivity can have some absurd results. Would someone please pass the euphemisms?
     

    wildleopard

    New Member
    English
    Yes it can be used in a way that does not refer to homosexuality or being happy... and is not meant to offend gay people either.

    "you're gay man" or "that's so gay" are common with young people...
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    I would only like to interject a simple query, isn't "getting offended on behalf of other people," especially when one is in a better position to defend them than they may be to defend themselves, a basic tenet of the empathy the Judeo-Christian societies have been paying lip service to lo these many centuries?

    Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)
    Well, Mgarizona, you have really identified some of the reason why this thread is so contentious. We have is the intersection of language issues with ethical/religious issues. You quote Christian scripture, but the principles involved can apply whether one is Christian or not; the injunction to put oneself imaginatively in the place of the "other" is central to many ethical and religious traditions.

    We are blessed/cursed with that ability to differing degrees, as well as the desire to exercise it. Our culture, despite all the complaints (many of them exaggerated and trivial) about political correctness, often encourages selfishness and the lack of regard for others.

    Nothing in personal and basic consideration for others will prevent anyone from calling a spade a spade. But it will cause a thoughtful and imaginative person to wonder why expressions like "it's so gay" (and others directed toward other groups) are used negatively, and what that says about both the language and the culture. Those who respond with such distaste when this kind of language nastiness is identified as such remind me of the bullies who profess to be surprised when they are told they have hurt someone whom they have just hit.

    I am glad I have to ability "to be offended on behalf of other people" and I think I could probably use more of it, as well as the ability to act more effectively as the result of it.
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    Yes it can be used in a way that does not refer to homosexuality or being happy... and is not meant to offend gay people either.

    "you're gay man" or "that's so gay" are common with young people...

    I don't think it's a coincidence that we hardly ever hear "you're gay girl."
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    What? Call a spade a spade? Any student of language knows that the word "spade" has, among other meanings, one that refers to a group of humans. You dig?

    Online etymology dict. says...."To call a spade a spade "use blunt language" (1542) translates a Gk. proverb (known to the Romans), but Erasmus mistook Gk. skaphe "trough, bowl" for a derivative of the stem of skaptein "to dig," and the mistake has stuck. The original, then, is "to call a bowl a bowl." "

    It adds, in a secondary definition, " Derogatory meaning "black person" is 1928, from the color of the playing card symbol."

    So, let's all stand up and chastise users of the older phrase, because, who knows, it just might be taken as a reference, however indirect, to something else which just might be offensive


    Sensitivity is good. Oversensitivity can have some absurd results. Would someone please pass the euphemisms?
    Words are arbitrary until they are given meaning by a society. Someday "spic" may be much less offensive than it is now and will be used sparingly to identify people people of Hispanic origin. The dictionary, however, will still have a deragotory definition for the word. But today, labeling anything or anyone that is bad or uncool as "gay" is currently offensive to a group of people (that frequently tells you it's offensive to them). I'm gay and I'm rather indifferent to the expression today. Alot of my straight friends use it, and when I'm around they catch themselves and say "oops sorry" even though I tell them I'm indifferent to the expression. They know that I know that they're not trying to be offensive, but they know that the expression is offensive to a group on a whole because it stems from homophobia (not that the expression itself is directly homophobic).

    Before I came out, when I knew I was gay, and I heard a plethora homophobic remarks all around me all the time from friends and family, it really did feel like all of society was against me. "You're gay" as a put down between school friends wouldn't have been so hurtful if I didn't have to hear it literally 10 times a day, everyday. A little more sensitivity by my schoolmates and family could have saved me years of agony.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    This expression is ubiquitous among kids today, especially teenagers. It's used by young people who are not tainted by anti-homosexual feeling, and have accepted the teachings of tolerance by their public-school experience on this matter.

    It's pointless to change the subject to how offended any of us choose to be about it.

    Teenagers love to belch loudly, make fake farting noises, and many of the slang expressions each new crop of them adopt are chosen for their aggravation value. They are not malicious in their obnoxiousness, it seems to be a natural response to the pressures and confusions of impending adult life.

    "Educating" teenagers about how offensive they may seem to some people is pointless, and will get you nowhere-- that to me is the one relevant fact here. Telling a kid that age he's being offensive is music to his ears. But it won't "educate" them-- they already know they're standing euphemisms on their head and putting them to insulting use.

    They're rejecting the "proper" use of the word gay, and the redefinition of it (unlike its original promulgation beginning back in the late 60s) comes from the bottom and percolates to the top.

    That's the way language is, its changes are uncontrollable grassroots phenomena. "I'm about to go postal" is not a malicious slur on a certain sector of the workforce-- but any mailman who voiced hurt feelings, or complained about what was being implied about his sanity, would be jeered at by these young people. Fuckem if they can't take a joke, is the attitude that applies here.

    In rebutting any of this, please refrain from mistaking my descriptive observations as advocacy on my part. Hurting people's feelings is a different matter from this example of colloquial usage, in my opinion, and disregard for the thin-skinned is an ineradicable trait of adolescence.
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    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    This expression is ubiquitous among kids today, especially teenagers. It's used by young people who are not tainted by anti-homosexual feeling, and have accepted the teachings of tolerance by their public-school experience on this matter.

    It's pointless to change the subject to how offended any of us choose to be about it.

    Teenagers love to belch loudly, make fake farting noises, and many of the slang expressions each new crop of them adopt are chosen for their aggravation value. They are not malicious in their obnoxiousness, it seems to be a natural response to the pressures and confusions of impending adult life.
    I agree that they are in the vast majority of cases not doing anything to be deliberately malicious.
    "Educating" teenagers about how offensive they may seem to some people is pointless, and will get you nowhere-- that to me is the one relevant fact here. Telling a kid that age he's being offensive is music to his ears. But it won't "educate" them-- they already know they're standing euphemisms on their head and putting them to insulting use.
    I don't agree, and this is at odds with your previous paragraph. I thought these were kids who "are not tainted by anti-homosexual feeling, and have accepted the teachings of tolerance". Surely if they use a term which causes deep offense and hurt (I doubt HistofEng was being hyperbolic in his phrase "years of agony") but do not wish to be bigoted then it is just that don't realise how insulting they are being and would probably be glad to be told. After all can you imagine them going round saying "it was a nigger of a bad day" or "my teacher's as boring as a Jew" in natural everyday unashamed usage? Why not if they revel in simply causing offence? Because they have been educated that there is a reason why they are asked not to say such things and in these instances the offence and hurt caused far outweighs the thrill of breaking the rules.
    They're rejecting the "proper" use of the word gay, and the redefinition of it (unlike its original promulgation beginning back in the late 60s) comes from the bottom and percolates to the top.

    That's the way language is, its changes are uncontrollable grassroots phenomena. "I'm about to go postal" is not a malicious slur on a certain sector of the workforce-- but any mailman who voiced hurt feelings, or complained about what was being implied about his sanity, would be jeered at by these young people. Fuckem if they can't take a joke, is the attitude that applies here.
    I really don't agree. They are not doing anything on purpose, just following a usage. However, your comparison with "going postal" is just not fair, and for two good reasons at least that spring to mind (and both are why I disputed your analogy of "lame") -

    - Going "postal" is based on some sort of reality. There were a disproportionate number of postal workers turning mass-murderers. I don't see any similar link with "gay". You yourself fully admit that these are basically non-homophobic kids so what reason do they have to link that word as a synonym for "wet"? As I say there is a reason for them to pick on postal workers - however weak a reason.
    - Postal workers are not a heavily picked on and discriminated against group. Of course you'd think "what an idiot" if one of them was to be truely offended by the phrase "go postal". Gay kids on the other hand are surrounded by images and information that they are bad, really bad people.
    In rebutting any of this, please refrain from mistaking my descriptive observations as advocacy on my part. Hurting people's feelings is a different matter from this example of colloquial usage, in my opinion, and disregard for the thin-skinned is an ineradicable trait of adolescence.
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    I wouldn't assume such advocacy on your part for a minute:). However, I do think you are underestimating the offence nay harm this usage can cause. I also think you are underestimating the young. I think if you took the time to explain precisely why it is could be so hurtful they wouldn't want to use it and in the meantime yes, they should be told off by parents and teachers for using it. You don't not tell a child to look twice before crossing the road for fear that he'll do the opposite and run straight across, and you don't laugh indulgently if your kid calls someone a Jew in a loud voice as you're sitting in a restaurant. After all if they are over 10, say, then they are starting to understand for themselves why it's not good to harm other people and hopefully they are starting to get a distaste for it in its own right.
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thanks, Timpeac.

    As for those teenagers who are "not tainted by anti-homosexual feeling", give them time: if they hear "it's so gay" as a negative description enough times, they'll get the idea!

    Funny, since there are so many untainted teenagers running around, that many (not all) of the ones who are gay/queer still have problems with self-acceptance and sometimes a fear or even panic of identifying themselves. Are they the thin-skinned ones?

    Having counseled a straight teenager a few years ago who was being taunted by classmates who thought he was gay, I know it's not even just the gay kids who can be thin-skinned. Maybe it's a human thing....
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I think if you took the time to explain precisely why it is could be so hurtful they wouldn't want to use it and in the meantime yes, they should be told off by parents and teachers for using it.
    I've talked with my own kids about things like this, and my wife is in the restaurant business, where she picks up all sorts of information on young adults, their language and their attitudes. I still feel I speak with confidence, even though I disagree on all points with people whose intelligence I respect.

    These young people feel people shouldn't be so thin-skinned. If "that's so gay" is causing deep offense, the offended parties should take their share of the general misery and learn to live with it.

    At that age, one's own pain and discomfort is of paramount importance, and (not to compound my offences by insulting young people, but) I don't think empathy is fully developed until at least age 18-- and the cusp of emotional maturity seems to be rising incrementally over the generations.

    Young people who aren't black or gay or members of some other "special group" feel discomfited by the pains they are supposed to take, walking on eggshells in the workplace, never telling jokes with any kind of edge, watching what you say at every turn. The college prof who got fired for using the word "niggardly" is a universally-known urban legend. And people are tired of it-- especially people born after the death of Jim Crow, who feel unfairly blamed for the sins of their fathers.

    It's a vastly complex issue I don't pretend to understand thoroughly. But bottom line, my chldren's generation is getting seriously fed up with PC, and to their egocentric mindset, the relief achieved by a rebellious expression like "that's so gay" (instead of "lame") is worth having, even at the expense of a few people getting their panties in a twist.

    No, "explaining" how hurtful it all is would get you nothing but a good eye roll-- but I've already taken pains to "explain" all that.

    Whenever I'm on the other side of an unprovable argument, up against good and intelligent people, it always seems to me that I look at the world without asking why-- let alone evolving to the "why not" stage. I try to build on what little I know by avoiding a state of denial about the undeniable. I try to take even the unpleasant givens in life as just that-- axioms of human nature. And if it's dawning on some of you that I take a Hobbesian rather than a Rousseauvian view of the animal, then by George I think you've got it.
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    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    This expression is ubiquitous among kids today, especially teenagers.
    And below!
    When my son was eight he moved school, as almost all urban Irish boys do - leaving the mixed convent school he attended and going to a boys-only school.
    The urinals in the new school were of a standard type - a long row of about 15 - 20 identical, somewhat-bucket-shaped, ceramic items affixed to a wall and plumbed top and bottom.
    He was told by one of the lads that the one he was using was "the gay toilet" - neither of them knew what 'gay' meant (in any of its meanings) but the school's mythology had handed down a tradition that this particular fitting was somehow 'different' and to be avoided.
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    These young people feel people shouldn't be so thin-skinned. If "that's so gay" is causing deep offense, the offended parties should take their share of the general misery and learn to live with it.
    ...
    Young people who aren't black or gay or members of some other "special group" feel discomfited by the pains they are supposed to take, walking on eggshells in the workplace, never telling jokes with any kind of edge, watching what you say at every turn.....
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    If it is within my power to lessen someone else's "misery" by being polite, I will be polite. If I am (rarely and momentarily) discomfitted by the effort, so be it. The people who are being too thin-skinned are really the ones who are asked to be aware of their language and don't want to bother.
     

    KaRiNe_Fr

    Senior Member
    Français, French - France
    I'm coming out (no bad pun here!) with my awful English to say I'm really shocked by this phrase. Usually I'm happy to learn a new one, but not this time. Moreover, I'm shocked that virtues of pedagogy to teach innocent teenagers, when they are not using as such an innocent expression as they could think, are not seen... If there is no immediate effect, I'm sure the idea will make its way (like we say in French), and one day maybe at 13, or at 18, or at 60 (and even for some never!?), they will realize their mistake. Call me optimistic-girl if you want. ;)
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Being offended on behalf of other people is indeed another step over a boundary that is already way outstretched. It can be done in ignorance and even bigotry, as in the case of people who smugly correct anyone who doesn't use "native American" or some other double-jowlful of syllables-- on behalf of people who are in many cases offended by exactly that term, if you but asked them.
    Personally, foxfirebrand says it all and I agree pretty well 100%. I too, am fed up with all these euphemisms and 'political correctness'.
    What's that got to do with the price of tea? I fail to see how political corectness fits in this thread. Can't you see the difference between forcing a euphemism upon people, and using an existing word that normally describes a category of people, as a term to express dislike, weariness or aversion?

    I think this is where the problem lies: some jokes and phrases aren't funny or meaningless when there are hard feelings in the background. I don't get offended by the use of the word "blonde" to mean stupid/silly - why, I even use it myself, and with even more convincing power since I am one. But it's because blondophobia doesn't exist, nor does postalphobia (both categories might be laughed about but they're usually not stigmatized or discriminated for that characteristic of their being). Homophobia does exist, as does racism, which means that using the words "gay" or "nigger" in the way that is described in this thread is more problematic than my "blonde" example.

    But then, that's just the opinion of a blonde. :rolleyes:
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Nobody's saying "that's so gay" is supposed to be funny! It's rebellious, sarcastic, contrary-minded. It plays for attention. It's a consummately adolescent thing to say.

    A lot of people are saying they go out of their way to be sensitive to others. That has nothing to do with this idiomatic phenomenon under discussion.

    One might as well try to stir up an educational crusade against "that sucks!" Let them know it bothers you, and they'll know they're on the right track-- and that does not contradict my impression that today's young people have a lot more empathy and political solidarity with gay people than any so far in history. They aren't too impressed with old gay people who don't "get it," but if it's any consolation, they feel the same about old people in general.

    The good sign is that they're showing signs of rejecting the culture of special victim groups, recompensatory entitlements, and showing more of a preference for the idea that people are responsible for their own actions-- including the choice of being deeply offended by everything or just blowing it all off.

    Young gay people aren't exactly eschewing the expression either-- they're going back to queer, in a way that reminds me of the way post-hippie types embraced freaks in the early 70s, a term of disapprobation in the extreme.

    I know a male nurse on a forum where his detractors were always demeaning him with bedpan jokes, or so-gay attempts at jokes. He started signing off as "dances with bedpans." This guy is not only one up on his would-be tormentors, he's miles ahead of the type of person who would stew about the treatment he was getting. Score one for male nurses with a sense of humor-- and anti-sensitivity.
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    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    I know a male nurse on a forum where his detractors were always demeaning him with bedpan jokes, or so-gay attempts at jokes. He started signing off as "dances with bedpans." This guy is not only one up on his would-be tormentors, he's miles ahead of the type of person who would stew about the treatment he was getting. Score one for male nurses with a sense of humor-- and anti-sensitivity..
    Maybe I misunderstood something in you story... is nursophobia a common phenomenon?
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I wonder what this thread was about?
    Maybe I should have a look back ...

    It has run its course, run its course, run its course.
    Equus mortis est.

    Anyone wishing to continue the discussion further might consider finding a forum where there is less emphasis on words, their meaning and usage, and more emphasis on the analysis of sociology.

    Meantime, this thread is closed.
     
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