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from: The Los Angeles Times
June 23, 2007


Where is the West's Outcry?

by Tim Rutten/Regarding Media

For a writer, Salman Rushdie has had a rather turbulent career. Even by his standards, however, this has been quite a week for Indian-born, British-educated, Booker Prize-winning novelist, now a resident of New York.

Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for services to literature, he turned 60, and across the Muslim world, a variety of jihad-minded fanatics and their essentially mindless apologists renewed their demand that Rushdie be murdered as soon as possible.

The Islamicists antipathy toward Rushdie goes back 19 years, when his fanciful novel "The Satanic Verses" was deemed by some of them to blaspheme Muhammad. There was a great deal of rioting and fulminating at the time, culminating in the Ayatollah Rhollah Khomeini's pronouncement of fatwa against Rushdie. As the Iranian revolution's spiritual leader said on Tehran radio, "The author of 'The Satanic Verses,' —which is against Islam, the Prophet, the Koran—and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death."...

What masquerades as tolerance and cultural sensitivity among many U.S. journalists is really a kind of soft bigotry, an unspoken assumption that Muslim societies will naturally repress great writers and murder honest journalists, and that to insist otherwise is somehow intolerant or insensitive.

Lost in the self-righteous haze that masks this expedient sentiment is a critical point once made by the late American philosopher Richard Rorty, who was fond of pointing out that "some ideas, like some people, are just no damn good" and that no amount of faux tolerance or misplaced fellow feeling excuses the rest of us from our obligation to oppose such ideas and such people....



Word Myths
Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends

by David Wilton

Oxford 2004

They Speak Elizabethan English
in the Appalachians

...When Ray Hicks, a famed Appalachian folklorist and storyteller, died in the spring of 2003, his New York Times obituary claimed that his speech patterns were an archaic holdover from centuries past. The obit even went so far as to claim that this had been verified by unnamed (of course) "dialect scholars." This is an oft-repeated myth, that in some backwoods hollows in Appalachia or the Ozarks there are people who speak like Shakespeare did.

The idea that one speaks a purer form of the language is a compellng one. There is so much talk of the decline of the English language, how bad grammar is coming to dominate modern speech, that it is a matter of pride to speak "the Queen's English."...

But what if you come from an area that is noted for its rustic and "ungrammatical" speech? Well in that case, you promote a myth that your rustic dialect is actually a pure form of English from ages past and you associate your dialect with some of the greatest poets of the English language. This is exactly what popular folklore has done with the dialect of the Appalachians....

…The Southern mountains have only been inhabited by Europeans since about the 1790s. By this date Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, and Raleigh had all been dead for almost two centuries....

Further, the early settlers of Appalachia did not come from the London literary elite represented by these writers. They were predominantly Scotts-Irish, which meant they were Protestants from northern Ireland. They were poor farmers and peasants, many illiterate. Their speech was about as similar to Shakespeare as a modern Belfast dockworker's is to the speech of today's Queen Elizabeth II.

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