Last month during a discussion on View from the Right about the federal government’s attempt to block private businesses from conducting criminal background checks on prospective employees because of disparate impact, reader Paul offered an excellent neologism that Auster highlighted in its own post:
If we are to be truly egalitarian, we need to stop using the word “criminal,” which stigmatizes those who, through no fault of their own, are forced to define their own concept of existence and to support themselves by operating outside the constructed “rules” of society—rules which, traditionally at least, have largely rationalized existing power relations while having a disparate impact on the powerless. Instead of “criminal,” I propose “alternative life strategist,” or “altstrat.” This could also be used as a verb, as in, “Quantavius altstrated my car.” (Though in that case, “redistributed my car” would also do).
Such prompted another Paul to make an apt reference to Annie Hall:
Paul T. is on to something. I have long suspected that we will see a move to legalize crimes that are committed by the most oppressed of minorities. The rationale would be something like that advanced by Alvy Singer’s father in Annie Hall, when he berates his wife for firing the house cleaner for stealing. He shouts, “She’s a colored woman, from Harlem! She has no money! She’s got a right to steal from us! After all, who is she gonna steal from if not us?”
I heard someone suggest new politically correct terms for crimes to remove their stigma; for example, robbery could be renamed “affirmative acquisition” and rape renamed “affirmative affection.”
As for neologisms, my most useful contribution to the English language so far has probably been the verb, “mormon,” as I mentioned in “Questionable Misogyny”:
I have a tendency quite opposite to that of Mormons when it comes to external relations in the realm of beliefs and ideas. Mormons seem to be bred or well trained to appear similar to whatever you espouse. They regularly exhibit an image quite akin to whatever you say so that you come to see their religion as recognizably familiar to your own. I have even coined the verb, “to mormon” someone, which means to trick others into thinking that one is similar to them when one is quite different. Perhaps, Mormons developed this behavior as a survival mechanism, which then became useful as a missionary tool. Besides a smile, a well-groomed Mormon kid’s chief artillery consists in, “We, too.” That is how the children of Lehi reel in the wary, and then they keep them in the tent with healthy family and community lifestyles: L.D.S. Strategy 101.
Spread its usage far and wide.