Service of a Name II

July 6th, 2020

Categories: Arrogance, Brat, Name, Storm, Weather

Photo: redbubble.com

I’ve written a few times about names on this blog but not about names chosen to identify a storm and more recently, to describe a style of person. I wrote the first “Service of  Name” in 2012 about Rupert Murdoch’s proposing a name change for The Wall Street Journal. He didn’t.

We’ve been naming storms for people since the 1950s. Hurricane Jeanne caused floods and mudslides killing more than 3,000 in Haiti in September, 2004. Memorable storms such as Katrina, Sandy, Rita, Wilma and Ivan in the 2000’s alone wreaked havoc.

I have never been called out or teased because I share a name with a deadly natural event and I doubt if the Katrinas, Wilmas, Ivans or Sandys have either.

Yet Karen is a different story.

Karen meme. Photo: dailydot.com

Of late I keep hearing and reading “Karen” used in derogatory ways. According to Wikipedia “Karen is a pejorative term used in the US and other English-speaking countries for a woman perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a racist white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others. Depictions also include demanding to ‘speak to the manager’, being an anti-vaxxer, or having a particular bob cut hairstyle. As of 2020, the term was increasingly being used as a general-purpose term of disapproval for middle-aged white women.” [An anti-vaxxer refers to people who won’t take or give vaccines to their children.]

Wikipedia continued: “The term may have originated as a meme on Black Twitter used to describe white women who tattle on Black kids’ lemonade stands”. It has also been described as originating with black women but having been co-opted by white men.”

The coverage attributes the origins to characters from movies Goodfellas and Mean Girls, a sketch by Dane Cook–“The Friend Nobody Likes”–and “a 2016 Internet meme regarding a woman in an advert for the Nintendo Switch console who exhibits antisocial behavior and is given the nickname ‘antisocial Karen.'”

I dislike people who act in insufferable ways. I question trashing a name because a person with that name or powerful destructive storm acted inappropriately or killed, respectively.

Do you think storms should be named after inanimate objects or birds or animals rather than people? If your name matched that of a deadly storm did you hear about it? What about taking a name from a demanding, irritating, nasty person and turning it into a generic one: Is it appropriate? Will the Karen storm blow over after we identify other malicious behavior perpetrated by Frieda or Gerry or Philomena or Frank?

Hurricane Ike September 2008 Photo: weather.gov

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6 Responses to “Service of a Name II”

  1. ASK Said:

    I wonder when this “woke” insanity is going to stop…

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    Our mother’s may have told us “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” but they do.

    In addition to those with a lifetime going by the moniker, imagine young parents who just named their infant after a beloved grandmother or mom named Karen.

    I won’t list here the first names of obnoxious people I have known nor would I name a pet much less a child similarly but I keep it to myself.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Today’s language cleansing bears an increasing resemblance to 17th Century witch hunting. The only difference is the killing of people vs. slaughtering good names and reputations. What are the real Karens supposed to do now? Hide? Apologize (for what?) Change their name because some witless zealot has found an un-PC meaning?

    I hope I don’t have the misfortune to run into one of these righteous folks, lest the temptation of smashing him/her to the wall becomes too strong.

    Hey folks — is that a Reverend Mather spirit watching you…….(There were 2, Cotton & his brother)

    PS No one’s dared use Elizabeth yet: Could it be that QE1 might emerge from the shadows and give them such a smack? Or will she be 2020s scourge of the year?

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I should have interviewed a few Karens for this piece but decided to write about it too late yesterday. I know a few and all are lovely and the opposite of the generic one described in the post.

    There are plenty of generic Karen apologists defending their right to use the word-turned-descriptive because of all the nasty, arrogant people out there. I never said there aren’t disrespectful prejudiced people in the land, the “Do you know who I am???” types. It still doesn’t excuse picking one out of millions of names to use as a battering ram even if one among them fully deserves the disrespect.

  5. MarthaTakayama Said:

    It seems ridiculous to turn an ordinary first name into a symbol of obnoxious and perhaps racist social behavior. It is not clever witty or satirical. But it can be a source of ridicule for innocent people bearing the name. Although I dislike the behavior it reflects, I find it impossible to understand how it came to have such an aura and so much symbolism. I hope that animosity and the behavior that the stereotype represents fades away as well as the connotation of the name. We are unfortunately a very divided and angry society at the moment.

    I have never given much thought to the impact of naming storms for people, but it would probably be more diplomatic not to name them for individuals. It also doesn’t seem very scientific.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    Not scientific! That is one of the strange things about naming storms for people. Guess it started because a name is easier to remember than some scientific word or long number.

    So many are on their high horses, oblivious of how their words impact others. They feel they are immune from criticism because they are RIGHT and those who disagree are WRONG. In so many levels–health, political–we are digging ourselves into deep holes. I hope that most of us emerge unscathed.

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