Tuesday, 18 October 2016

What’s in a Name?

Everybody has a right not to be offended. However in today’s world everybody seems to be offended by everything. Political correctness has gone mad, and as result we see organizations and even individuals getting their knickers in a twist about names of sport teams and even city landmarks. Where does this madness lead us to?
The word ‘Indian’ seems to offend not only First Nations people but other people who even take legal actions to ban name of sports teams. In the recent legal case the Cleveland Indians who were playing the Toronto Blue Jays, found themselves the subject of a lawsuit preventing them from using their names in Toronto. Fortunately the MLB and a judge found that the case had no validation and rejected the claim made by somebody who was not even in the country but on holidays in China.
The idea is that all reference to natives in one form or another is offensive and should be not only discarded but banned. In many cases the initial use of the names was to show respect to the North American indigenous people, e.g `Braves`. The increasing calls for change are not only in the U.S but are gathering steam in Canada, where the Edmonton Eskimos and other High School sports teams are being asked to change their names.
There now exists a movement to remove statues of historic figures, ban or get rid of the names of historic buildings because of their connection to leaders who are believed to be responsible for certain acts or policies which today may offend people. In The U.S some people would like to remove any reference to Jefferson because he owned slaves. In Calgary some people would like to remove the name Langevin from a bridge because it may offend some people.
There may be some legitimacy in this move to eradicate the use of some of these names, but this trend is also becoming a tool to reverse history. But now there is another movement originating from the use of a new language emanating from the social media. Abbreviations or the use of shorthand to communicate is proliferating.
Under the guise to make Calgary’s families feel better about their city, the Calgary Economic Development and Tourism Calgary are partnering on a new initiative — LoveYYC. The idea is to support business, and to promote Calgary’s numerous attractions and facilities. Mary Moran and Cindy Ady wrote in the Calgary Herald “We want Calgarians to experience all the cultural and entertainment opportunities the city has to offer, as well as our stores and restaurants,” The so-called campaign will start on November 5 with LoveYYC Day, featuring special offers from businesses to encourage local shopping
While I approve of the efforts of both Calgary Economic Development and Tourism Calgary to promote the City, I find the use of YYC as continuing to remove the connection with the city’s `heritage. Recently the new Calgary airport was named The YYC International Airport, when it could have been named the Frederick McCall or Stephen Harper International Airport.
In the recent past the same Calgary Economic Development spent thousands of dollars, to rebrand the City of Calgary. It seems that they wanted to eradicate the City’s past connections with the tradition of ranching and the Cowtown slogan. At the same time ignoring that The Calgary Stampede is still `the greatest show on earth`. So they replaced ‘Heart of the New West’ with ‘Be Part of the Energy’: to help continue to change perceptions and tell the story about what makes Calgary a great place to make a living and make a life.

What is interesting with that change is that they wanted to ‘change perceptions’ about what Calgary was. In my view it was to change our connection to the Old West, forgetting that it was ranchers and farmers who built this city. It was to refocus the notion that now we depend on ‘energy’ which was the dominant industry in Calgary. The same people who did this about face were also part of the climate change, global warming movement which today together with low oil prices has decimated the city’s economy.

It is important to bring back pride in our City, it is also important to mention its name in any campaign. Citizens do not live or are stranded in an airport, because this is what YYC stands for.  Calgarians live in a proud, vibrant and energetic city called Calgary, so make sure that Calgary is used in any reference to this great city, and stop pandering to the social media crowd or politically correct elitists.

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