Orwell one, Orwell two: 1984 deja vu

In all the years I wrote for The Herald there were only a couple of columns that got bounced for one reason or another.  Well, actually it was one reason – the editors thought the column was too political.  Here’s one that got rejected early in 2011. The Herald editors thought it didn’t belong in the Living Section and was more properly suited for the Editorial Page. However, they wouldn’t run it there either. So. I report – you decide. Please let me know what you think in “Comments.”

In 2011 Parent One Day will be celebrated on May 8. Parent Two Day falls on  June 19. If you are confused by this silly statement it is because we live in an age of silliness and obfuscation. Allow me to try to explain. Starting in February, according to the State Department,  the words “mother” and “father” will be removed from U.S. passport applications for minors and replaced with the gender neutral terms “parent one” and “parent two.”

The State Department’s web-site indicated that “These improvements are being made to provide a gender neutral description of a child’s parents in recognition of different types of families.”

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services, Brenda Sprague, said that the decision to remove traditional parenting names was not an act of political correctness.  She said: “We find that with changes in medical sciences and reproductive technology that we are confronting situations now that we have not anticipated 10 or 15 years ago.” Huh?

If the changes were not an act of political correctness why didn’t the State Department simply provide additional space on the applications to accommodate these unanticipated changes confronting the department because of changes in medical sciences and reproductive technology?

Perhaps here is a reason: An organization named the Family Equality Council has been lobbying for the change for many years. It’s executive director, Jennifer Chrisler, recounted the day she tried to get passports for her twin sons. “Even though my partner was their legal mother, had adopted them after I gave birth to them, she still had to put her name in the father field and that is both discriminatory and makes us feel like second class citizens.”  So the solution seems to be to discriminate and make second class citizens out of parents who raise children in the old fashioned gender specific way and, apparently, belong to some infamous Family Inequality Council.

Frankly, I think the changes in the application forms can lead to more confusion. How do gender non-specific parents decide who is Parent One and who is Parent Two? And how do their children know who to send a greeting card to on May 8 and June 19?  On those days should the kids shop at a florist or an auto parts store?

Even though the Deputy Assistant Secretary assures us that the change in the application form was not an act of political correctness I am disturbed by the Orwellian aroma of her protestations. In his classic dystopian novel, “1984,” the totalitarian state’s Ministry of Truth (MiniTrue) made the government seem omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient by continuously revising history and using doublespeak slogans such as War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength. I sense the Family Equality Council (FamQaulCon) is imposing doublespeak on us to let us know that mother and father are discriminatory and that the State knows best.

I worry where this doublespeak will stop. Will our mother tongue become parent tongue? Will computer printed circuit boards become parentboards and will we lose good old Father Christmas to Parent Christmas?

 Perhaps all we can do is pray that FamQualCon’s desire not to feel discriminated against doesn’t become unreasonable.  So let us pray: “Our Parent One, who art in heaven … deliver us from the evils of PC. Amen. I mean Ah-parent. Oh well, all’s well that’s Orwell.

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