You're Wrong an Irregular Column by Mykel Board

I'm drunker than a straight-edger after the show. Stinking drunk. Falling down drunk. Drooling drunk. Drunk enough so every word is profound. Every sentence I utter has a depth of thought the world has never before experienced.

"Now, let me tell YOU about shoughts," I say, switching my weight from one leg to the other as each, in turn, collapses beneath me.

I'm conversing with my pal Mark. He's a former fuck-buddy, who has moved from that category to "drunken comrade." He's less drunk than I.

"Thoughts?" He laughed, "how can you talk about thoughts? You can't even stand up."

"Thash the point," I say. Then my legs give way and I fall into a heap on the floor. It doesn't stop me from talking. "Shinking ish a lot like shtanding up when you're drunk. Just like zhere are times when you can't shtand, zhere are shertain shoughts you can't think."

"Like what?" he asks.

I try to hit him, but fall again.


It's been at least six months since that conversation. As I write this, I'm relatively sober. It's a condition I expect to repair shortly. During these last six months, I've thought about Mark's dumb question. Of course, you can't say what you can't think about. If you can say it, you can think it. But, it's possible to show how something becomes "unthinkable." That's what I'm gonna do.

First we need to examine out dicks. Girls are gonna have to watch-- or think of an appropriate analogy. Boys, I'd like you to lower your pants and look. If you're not circumcised, you've got to peel yourself back a bit. Check out underneath. See that V- shape where the shaft goes into the head? Check out the skin between the tip of the V and the circumcision scar-- foreskin if you've still got one. Imagine that itching. Imagine it mosquito- bit, or rubbed with wool.

Now, how would you tell someone else about your condition? You could say "My dick itches." But the person hearing that would not know WHERE your dick itches. The image in their mind would be different from the reality between your legs.

Unless you go into a very lengthy discussion-- or just whip it out and show it, you can't accurately talk about it. There just isn't an English word for this part of the body. We don't even see it as a bodypart. In fact, until this exercise, you couldn't think about that specific section of skin, as a section at all.

Now, let's call that skin "V-skin." Now, all the boys you know have V-skin. And when it itches, you know just what they're talking about.

That's close to what I mean when I say there are things we can't think about.

Switch gears. I wanna talk about William Safire. A guy who used to write speeches for Nixon. He now writes for The NY Times.

He complains about how English is changing. He laments the death of "shall" and "whom." Cries about the way we verb nouns. Wrings his hands at the use of sentences with no subject. He's as bad as an English teacher. Or an educated parent. He's wrong.

There are two kinds of language change. First, there's a "change from below." In this kind of change, a term starts with a small group of people. Then, gradually, it seeps into the general population. "Access" as a verb, is an example. It started as computer-nerd jargon, used with "to access a file." Then it spread. Now people talk about "accessing my nookie account," as a way to say "hot date."

"Change from above," is where a person or group of people decide on a change. Then, they impose that change on everybody else.

People adopt this kind of change because they're told to, not because they think it's cool.

An example of this, is the French Academy. They create new words for "hot dogs" so the Frogs don't use English. Another example: "African- American," a term coined by Jesse Jackson, then spread by guilt and intimidation.

I love change from below. Hate change from above. It's not a question of being "anti-PC." It's a question of being able to think.

During the early 20th century, before even I was born, a klingon and a linguist shared an Eskimo fetish. They often travelled to the arctic and jerked off together behind the igloos. After years of Eskimo watching, they came up with a theory. They modestly called it, The Sapir-Worf Hypothesis, naming it after themselves.

They saw that Eskimos had a two dozen words for snow. Many of those words depended on an exact color of whiteness. Sapir and Worf figured that BECAUSE Eskimos had so many terms for white, only they could see those colors. We can't, they said, because we don't have the language. The essence of their hypothesis is language determines thought.

Modern linguists and anthropologists dispute part of the theory. I want to make another, related, claim. That is, while language may not determine how you think, it determines how you CAN'T think.

I've written before about how race is a fiction. How it is a mythological combination of certain characteristics. A human average, that, like other averages, is wrong when applied to any one person.

But the reality is, we talk about race. Many who match SOME racial characteristics are identified, or identify themselves by race. That's the reality. If we talk about race at all, we need to talk in a way that lets us think freely. We need to pick our words carefully, and not in a way that keeps us from thinking.


I knew there'd be trouble when I first heard the word "Asian" used to mean Oriental.

Charles, a Japanese pal said, "It's just a bunch of Orientals jumping on the bandwagon. Every other ethnic group is going for a name change, so some big cheese thinks it's make-over time for us too."

When it happened, I complained that it was an inaccurate word. We certainly can't say that everyone in Asia is the same race. (Is any continent mono-racial?) I complained that the term was imprecise. When I talk about my love of Orientals, I'm not referring to the hairy Talabans from Afghanistan.

I predicted that the individual races would loose their distinction, and "Asian" would become meaningless. I was wrong. What actually happened was much worse.

Asian took over for Oriental. If someone looks Oriental, people describe them as "Asian." If they look Indian or are from someplace else in Asia, they become "looks Indian" or "is from someplace in Asia." The word "Asian" stole the racial identity of entire groups of people.

Do a Yahoo search of "Asian and people?" Check out the site listings. See how many sites that call themselves "Asian" are ONLY Oriental. It's becoming so we CAN'T THINK of Asian except to associate it with Orientals. Get the picture?

"African-American?" I've written about my glee in hearing a TV newsreporter call Nelson Mandella "an African-American." But what does that term do to us-- in a Sapir-Worf way? What can't we think?

Sickle-cell anemia is a disease that primarily affects Negroes. NOT African-Americans. It targets people from all over the world.

NOT Africans. It doesn't target white people who live in Africa.

NOT blacks, it doesn't target Indians whose skin is as black as any African's. It targets Negroes.

Without that word we cannot describe the group, nor adequately inform those at risk, nor test, nor treat them. We can't even think about these people as a group, without thinking NEGRO.

The last thought-controlling term I wanna look at is "Gay"-- a term even homos reject. By dividing the world into "Gay" and "Straight," we're unable to think of any alternatives. Even adding a third category, "bisexual," we're still forced into little boxes. (Pun unintended, but appreciated.)

We awaken from a night of hard nookie. Me and Yoshiko. I open the curtains to see what the weather's like.

"Wow, look over there?" I tell her.

It's a thin Negro, short dark hair, tight jeans, hips as narrow as two fists. Face as smooth as a penis tip. He's bending forward to tie his shoe.

"Mykel," says Yoshiko, "I didn't know you were bisexual."

"I'm not." I say.

If we don't view sex as something static, then people cannot BE "gay," but only perform "gay sex" or something else. What if we're attracted to people for a reason OTHER than gender? What if we look for body type, intellect, eye color or degree of hirsutitude. We're stuck because we can't think about this EXCEPT in gender. We have no words to express it.

Despite my reputation, I am not attracted to anything with a hole. (Whether I'll fuck anything with a hole is a different story.) I have as much taste, as many standards as the self- identified het or homo. Only that taste and those standards are not based on gender. But people can't think that way. We don't have the words.

So buckaroos, next time your V-skin itches. You've got me to thank that you can talk about it.


--> Yeah right dept: I again heard from the jokers at Population Communications International (777 UN Plaza NYC 10164). They want money from me. Of course they do it by including a "survey." They ask me if I know that overpopulation is responsible for global warming. Oy vey! The US is number one in gaseous emissions. (With all those beans, you'd expect it to be Mexico!) Industry, business, utilities-- in other words modern WORK-- is responsible for global warming. India, the most (second most?) populous country on earth contributes less than a quarter of the nasty air stuff that the US does. Overpopulation? Yeah, by people who want to make work.

-->Setting an example dept: If the government can't lie, who can? I got the latest issue of Passport, a US Postoffice publication. They now offer a service for American customers who are "seeking an in-country image." They call their new service "Global Direct."

Now, the post office allows the shipper to send bulk mail with NO postage on it. Fees are paid per mailbag, at the post office. The US postoffice ships the mail to a post-office in another country. There, local postage is stamped on. It then looks like it originated in the foreign country.

More than that, the post office will set up a bogus PO Box in another country. Then, they'll forward business reply cards from that mailbox to a PO Box in the US.

If a private company did this, it would be mail fraud. But the US Post Office can't commit mail fraud, can it? Yeah right.

You can send your comments to the post office through their website at I don't have an address, though. Maybe they're not in the US.

-->Dead Babies dept: Seems like Nestle, Hipp and Mead Johnson are some of the companies most concerned about the population explosion. And, they're doing something about it... killing babies.

This comes from a World Health Organization report. They say these companies are the worst offenders in marketing baby formula to mothers who should be breast feeding. According to their estimates, one and a half million tots a year kick the mini- bucket because of not being breast fed. Why weren't they marketing to mamma Trump, Steinbrenner and Guiliani? THAT would have done the world a favor.

->The Primitivist Network is a group that "promotes networking among anarcho-primitivists and civilization resisters." They are back-to-naturists and anti-technology. Oh yeah, their homepage is at:

-->Safe now dept. Well, Kamal Kharrazi, the foreign minister of Iran has announced that the country no longer seeks the death of writer Salman Rushdie. If anyone kills the guy, Iran will no longer provide a reward.... Well, that takes care of THAT summer job.

-->The value of going to church dept: The religious right has been distributing "voter guides" to various churches. These are actually promos for right-wing political candidates. (What a surprise?) BUT, they are not legal. Churches are tax exempt and cannot support candidates. So, if you find this stuff in a church, send it to Project Fair Play Coordinator, Americans United, 1816 Jefferson Place NW, Washington DC 20036-2505. They'll make sure it goes to good use-- as evidence!