Interpretive Reading Speech 2:
It seems like today you can hardly turn around
before someone is screaming and putting you down
for using words that have valid meaning,
but fail to pass the PC screening.
Do I mean your computer? My goodness, no!
I mean Political Correctness, which is so
pervasive on our campuses, and in our culture,
that you have to watch your mouth, and your
eyes, or you'll get into so much trouble
that PC cops will arrest you on the double.
They won't throw you in jail, though they'd love to.
They'll just arrest your sentences, jumping through
hoops to make you feel uncomfortable
as they start spouting their loud lines of bull.
Now you and I know that the dictionary
lists objective meanings of words, you see.
How people feel about this or that phrase
should not a rational mindset faze.
But the PC crowd would have us believe
that we are all children who cannot relieve
our tangled emotions with introspection.
Instead, we must gang up to imprison
the mouths of those who dare to employ
this or that word meaning those who annoy.
Consider the great novel Atlas Shrugged,
Ayn Rand's masterpiece that tugged
on the hearts and minds of millions of people
and led many to leave the church's steeple.
A central hero of that great story
was a man who ran a steel foundry.
Hank Rearden -- that was his name.
Creating new metals -- that was his game.
More than a game, it was his passion.
He learned all he could so as to fashion
new alloys never before known to man,
and churning out ingots to beat the band.
As smart as he was, he still dropped the ball
on the biggest possible game of them all.
The game of finding his one true love --
someone who would match him like hand in glove.
He made a blunder and suffered much strife
when he picked the wrong woman to be his wife.
Lillian Rearden -- that was her name.
Making Hank suffer grew to be her game.
A malicious, spiteful, and domineering woman,
it seemed she could be pleased by no man.
Dedicated to mooching and griping and blaming,
such a woman had earned a nasty naming.
An appropriate adjective or noun would suffice --
a single syllable to capture her vice.
Surely some of you might already see
that Ayn Rand's books create much controversy.
Discussion groups around the world meet
to exchange Randian ideas and also to greet
each other in welcome to a refreshing state
of affairs, where all ideas can aerate.
Such was the atmosphere at Barnes and Noble.
Who would have known the kind of trouble
that discussing the character of Lillian
would create -- as if a million
angry hornets had descended
upon the discussion and bearded
our tongues with their stingers sharp
and made us into angels, each with a harp.
It was the Twelfth of July of 2003
when our club felt the slam of cultural PC.
The chapter's title was "The Face without Pain or Fear
or Guilt". It was at this point, this moment, here
that Hank Rearden's insufferable dealings with his wife
would turn the tide and take on a new life
as he learned to shrug his sense of duty
and pursue his mistress, with her rationality.
As I turned the page to continue the discussion
I made a reference to that woman named Lillian,
describing her with a one syllable expletive
and adding a "y" to make it an adjective.
From the crowd at the table, there arose such a clatter
I turned my head to see what was the matter.
"Don't use that word!" screamed a new female face.
"I despise that word! It's just a disgrace!"
Having caught me off guard, I turned to inquire.
"How interesting. When did this feeling you acquire?"
I asked this woman in a quite curious tone.
But an older gentleman cut me to the bone
bringing the inquiry to a complete paralysis
by suggesting this not be a forum for psychoanalysis.
Sadly, I relented, not knowing how to react.
So I used "difficult woman" as a phrase to detract
from Lillian's character, though she deserved far worse.
What Lillian needed was Ted Bundy as a nurse.
The evening continued, and soon we were all home.
But I rested little as my mind began to roam
over the evening's transactions, and the more I thought
of how I'd been blindsided, the madder I got.
I hopped onto my computer and surfed the Web.
I landed at Webster online. My anger began to ebb
as I read the official meaning of the word in question.
Soon I formed a response to ease my indigestion.
I composed an e-mail and sent it to our list
of book club members, so they could get the gist
of why I was right, and Miss Newcomer was wrong
to attempt to gag me with her vociferous song
and dance about the meanings of a key phrase
along with the look of shock on her face.
"Behold," I wrote, "it says so right here
in Webster online, that the meaning is clear:
Definition 2B: 'a malicious, spiteful, domineering
woman'. For those who are into engineering
sentences and papers, this is a liberating insight.
It provides you freedom from the PC blight."
I fired the missive up, up and away
into cyberspace, for the sake of a counter-foray.
The next month, the woman who created the fuss
was nowhere to be found -- ah, what a loss.
The remaining members, plus a few more,
congratulated me for daring to explore
the actual applications of Rand's philosophy,
using her ideas mightily to stamp out PC.
So the next time you encounter a spiteful
and domineering woman, feel delightful
at this fine opportunity to say out loud
that A is A, and that PC is not allowed.
Fear not, for the truth will not make you twitch.
Just say it out loud: "That woman is a bitch!"