Sunday, February 28, 2010

Leave The Names Alone

Americans redraw the map to erase 'offensive' names

"For more than a century, Negrohead Mountain has towered over the countryside north of Malibu, offering unrivalled views of the Pacific to generations of hikers. But this week, at the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen, the striking landmark's time-honoured name disappeared from local maps.
The 2,031ft summit will henceforth be known as Ballard Mountain, a name deemed to be more in keeping with the modern era. The new title honours a blacksmith and former slave called John Ballard, who was among the first men to settle in its foothills in 1880, after fleeing Los Angeles to escape persecution by segregationist police officers."

The problem is, aside from wiping out cultural and historical heritage, that what's convenient and inoffensive today might be awkward and offensive tomorrow and it will have to be done again and again. So, after delicate souls got the vapors over Jackson's Hole and it was changed to Jackson Hole, are the Grand Tétons, aka The Big Tits, next on the chopping block or is it OK because it's in french? See that slippery slope and how we should just relax, and how sometimes we could even need to be reminded of a past that makes us wince?
How about Squaw Valley, or Whiteville, NC? Should every place called Washington be rebranded because the first president owned slaves?
But a little later in the article we catch a glimpse at who would love to eventually change names like charming Intercourse, PA:

"In San Francisco, the county board of supervisors debated a bizarre-sounding proposal to change the name of the Mount Diablo State Park to Mount Reagan State Park. The move was eventually rejected, but not before a group of right-wing Christian activists had advanced a case to the effect that the park's historic name, which is Spanish for "devil", is profane and highly offensive to religious people.
"This is about the spiritual climate of our county. It begins a discussion," said one of their number, Arthur Mijares, whose argument for change partly rested on the contention that the Mount Diablo name was against state law because the devil is a "living" being. "Look at problems in Richmond, Oakland, Pittsburg. All that is driven by evil, demonic spirits."
More than 70,000 locals joined a Facebook group opposing the change, although Mr Mijares told the Contra Costa Times that the group's members were "communists"."


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