The world’s greatest language—English—is still replete with terms of prejudice that would be the subject of liberal and CBC outrage if they were invented today to heap scorn on any minority other than mine.
Society has suppressed the “N-word” for people of tan, dumped “gypped” that might suggest Gypsies are sketchy and scrambled to ban an entire dictionary of terms that change weekly in the rainbow world of gender and sexual orientation.
Millions of marginalized people undoubtedly sleep better knowing they won’t wake up as kikes, spics, dogans and pansies, etc., while their Funk and Wagnall’s sheds the terms and all the entomological roots of such slander.
Except for the continuing upfront bias against one of the planet’s most enduringly-oppressed minorities.
Yup. Me and a billion others.
The evidence is everywhere.
We know that things sinister (from the Latin meaning left) are evil, while dexterous (also from the Latin dexter meaning right) is, well, good.
Also known as adroit (from the French “to the right”, which is never signaled by Quebec drivers).
Things that “go south” are failures and we know left-handed pitchers are “southpaws” while the rest as “right-handers”.
(Right hurlers have hands, lefties have clumsy simian paws.)
The RCMP knows what side it is on with its motto “Maintien le droit”, the only un-translated federal buzzword in this schizophrenic northern enclave because my buddy and neighbour Stevie Harper has the copyright (as opposed to copyleft) on the English version:
“Prop up the Right.”
And, of course, the French word for left is gauche, not a compliment in either language, except to the French when they’re being gauche to non-French tourists.
It’s time for an apology.
Hell, the Germans and Italians got theirs for being summoned to the local police station for a few hours of questioning after war was declared.
The Japanese got theirs for being sent off to concentration camps because the government knew tree-hugging David Sushi-sushi would grow up to be a major nag.
Asians got the $50 back for the extra luggage charge when they immigrated.
The aboriginals got theirs for being forced to watch APTN.
So what are we left-handers—chopped liver or just gauche maladroits unworthy of a mea culpa?
I was a little five-year-old playing in my natural environment (the neighbourhood sandbox) happily manipulating my toys with my sinister digits when I was shipped off to a distant (15-minute walk) religious institution called Kenogami Protestant High School.
The real religion, I discovered, was fundamentalist dexterity and we runny-nosed little gauchists got what the majority felt we deserved.
The only cure for our sin (teachers then did not believe that we were actually born with a genetic predestination to an alternative left-style) was mandatory conversion through brutal physical abuse.
I don’t even carry a tape measure these days when buying nails at Home Depot because I still have four inches of a Grade 1 ruler permanently etched onto the knuckles of my south paw, compliments of notorious racist enforcer Miss Lilacwater.
“RIGHT hand, Gordon!” (Whack!) “Use your RIGHT hand!”
Hey, I’m there to learn, right?
I’m not crazy (that came later), so I converted—at least when it came to aptly-named cursive writing—figuring I could always shift back when the swelling went down in, maybe, 20 years.
Thus began the sham of denying my cultural birthleft and a furtive marginalized existence in the shadowy world of people like me.
I found an outlet in sports, because the schoolyard monitors seemed to think it was okay for us visible-minority lefties to use our unnatural skills in baseball and basketball as long as we didn’t date their daughters.
Even that was a constant problem, because local stores didn’t stock gear for the lefthandicapped and my dad had to order my fielder’s glove from the Hudson’s Bay Company that cost him a week’s wages.
Professional careers in golf and archery had to be abandoned as financially prohibitive, but the onset of puberty drove me to seek out the company of more of my kind in venues—yes, admittedly sleazy—where my suspect proclivity was accepted.
An amazing number of really good pool players are lefties, thanks to the unbiased cue that cares nothing about the orientation of the person gripping it.
I paid my way through university confounding the hapless members of the Rightiness Majority whose attempts at safe leaves ended with their balls whacked into glory holes.
Small compensation, though, for 60 years of cultural bias and systemic abuse.
I still pay premiums and climb mountains of prejudice every day for choosing to be what nature made me.
Tape measures are upside down, rotary saws require incredible gymnastics and my hunter friends think I’m a vegetarian animal lover when the truth is I can’t operate the bolt-action rifle that would allow me to join them in a fun-filled safari to kill Bambi’s mommy.
Granted, there has been some progress and begrudging acceptance since the dark days.
Quick-dry ink allows President Obama to sign legislation without wearing a printer’s sleeve guard.
Canada’s humane policy of multi-manualism has meant that entire industries have had to alter production to send backwards golf clubs and hockey sticks to the Great White North in proportions many times higher than in the U.S. and the rest of the planet.
Lee Valley Tools right here in Ottawa offers an every-growing list of tools in trans-dexual configuration.
But self-serving response does not wipe out the past.
It is time we sinisterians get an apology.
And the minimal concession that we, with all Canadians, shall now be covered by the Charter of Rights and Lefts.