Surianne, no one is insulting the offended people. (At least not me) But I will admit that I am questioning their rational at the time of the article. I just get the impression that there is more to this than just the writers use of words. I don't remember but didn't this take place in Atlanta? And during the 90's? I lived in the Savannah area in the 90's and can remember there being a lot of racial tension in the 90's down there. It is still a hot spot for racial issues isn't it? I am willing to bet that had a lot to do with this. People likely saw that phrase and used it as a chance to prove their "victim of racism" status. It really is quite common. People can get stuck in their victim mentality and can easily, even if unintentionally turn things into racial issues. Not because they like to cause trouble, but because they truly don't know how NOT to. It's ingrained in them to think that way. And I believe that because we, as a society, are trying so hard to make up for the past mistakes of the people before us, that we are afraid to actually say "No. That is not what it means and that's not what the intention was. Here is a dictionary. Read it again." Instead, we cow tow and apologize over and over because we don't want to be portrayed as discriminatory. And, in turn, the ones that create issues learn that all they have to do is scream racism and they will get what they want. It creates a vicious circle of entitlement and bad community relations.
I am of the mindset that one should take something at face value and not assume their is a deeper meaning than there really is when it comes to articles like the one we are discussing. To jump all over the writers use of the term "circus-like atmosphere" is just something I can't comprehend, because again, I get what he was trying to say. I am really trying to understand but I just can't. Perhaps it is because I am not of that particular race but I don't know. I did discuss this with a friend of mine who is of another race though because I wanted her perspective. She is honest as the sun and will give it to me if I deserve it so I trust her judgement. I thought perhaps I just need a real life living breathing person to really explain this to me because I am just not getting it. Even she couldn't find anything wrong with the phrase, at least, not until I told her why people were so offended. Even then she said, "Really? I guess I just don't get it either because I honestly never would have thought of that until you mentioned it. But now that you mention it, I guess I can see why one or two people would be a little stung by it but I bet those people are the same people who find race in everything so to them, a white guy using the words "circus" to describe a black event MUST be racist. (sarcasm is all hers) Didn't people understand what he was saying? Don't they have enough common sense to get the message? Are people really stuck on circus? I don't know why all the angst. It sounds like a fluff piece, not a deep informational and reflective article into the neighborhood." (those were her exact words; FWIW, she is an African American middle aged woman)
I also believe, as my friend also mentioned, that people have a mob mentality when it comes to this stuff, especially when it comes to race issues. I would still wager that not many people thought about that term that way until it was actually brought up. Whoever made the initial complaint planted the seed for everyone else. Then they got in an uproar because they were told they were supposed to be upset about it because "Look what he said about us! He called us animals!" Most of those people probably just took the initial complainant at his word without actually reading it. Even if they read the article for themselves, the seed had already been planted. There is no way they could look at that article again and NOT see that.
I find that nowadays, people are focused just on the words that are written and not the context or content and that alarms me. Don't we teach reading comprehension anymore? If a word even comes close to sounding like another offensive word, it's taboo only because it might offend someone? Do we really expect our writers to water down language to maybe avoid offending someone? It's impossible for anyone to know what is and isn't offensive anymore anyway. Like a previous poster said, language today is a minefield. And you don't know your in it until you have set one off. I think that was a great analogy. Most writers DO go out of their way I think to avoid using obviously offensive words/phrases. How is anyone to know that 'circus' is offensive in the context it was used though? I bet that the people who found it offensive didn't know it really was offensive to them until they saw it on paper. How can you (general) educate the polulation about whats offensive to you, if you don't even think it's offensive until you see it? What can the writer do at that point? Besides, how does one educate on what's not obviously offensive in certain communities anyway? What are we suppossed to do? Get a list from every community with what phrases and words that writers, journalists, and newspeople are not allowed to use because it is or might be offensive to them? It's madness!
I also noticed that some posters here are saying that there plenty of other phrases or words he could have used to describe the event, yet no one has provided any examples of what other phrases he could have used that would evoke the same images that "circus-like atmosphere" produced for me. When I read that, I think of: controlled chaos, fun, lots of stuff going on, the eyes don't know where to look, high energy event, geared towards kids and families, balloons and snacks and colors... it really gives me an image in my head and I like it. I think for a book fare, that is actually quite a good description. If it really was that easy to substitute his phrase, I am inviting the writers on here to do so, out of curiosity's sake. (Note: This is not in anyway a poke at or provoke our writers here. I really would like to see what the other writers can come up with on a creative level.)
May I also go OT for a second and commend you all for being so great in this thread. I have found it to be a very interesting thread and one of my favorites thus far. This very easily could have turned into a heated thread and been locked, but, while passionate, we have all remained level headed, polite, and calm, even in disagreement. Kudos to you ehellions.