26 October 2008

Let's stop drinking the Kool-Aid, shall we?

Any Grey's Anatomy fans out there? If so, then you will remember Diahann Carroll's first appearances on that show. At the time there was a running joke where the interns called the hard-nosed chief resident Bailey "the Nazi". Diahann Carroll's character heard her son's fiancee call Bailey that and gave her a firm but gentle talking-to about how that term degraded strong females and offended survivors of the Holocaust at the same time. It was a great scene.

Sometimes I wish I had Shonda Rimes to write my dialogue, especially when I hear people use the expression "drink the Kool-Aid". In today's parlance, that term has come to mean a tendency to believe or swallow whatever a certain person or entity is telling you without question. However, I can't hear it without cringing. I was 11 years old when the mass suicides in Jonestown, Guyana were all over the news. My mind flashes back to them every time someone uses the phrase.

I know that 30 or 60 years on, words and phrases like "Nazi" and "drink the Kool-Aid" have lost their strength. Many of the people who use them weren't even alive when the words first earned their sting. However, for someone like me who is intensely aware of the history, I can't use them. I wish others felt the same way.
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