SpaceAliens and ponies

Not a rant on politics (and indeed, I’m not stating a position), but a rant on language.

At one point when I was a young ‘un, there was this high-sugar kids’ cereal commercial (I think it was for Cap’n Crunch) where one of the characters was rattling off a long list of those who couldn’t have any*. All I remember of it was “…and space aliens, and ponies, …”. I asked my dad why they explicitly said space aliens, because weren’t all aliens from space? He explained that they were probably trying to avoid offensive connotations, because “alien” could also be taken to mean illegal alien, a term I had never heard before (and which required some explaining).

Over the years, this fell out of favor for (along the lines of the well-known George Carlin euphemisms rant) illegal immigrants, then migrant workers. I had to laugh a bit (in a totally non-funny way, the way one laughs in a graveyard) in GJM’s car yesterday when he was listening to a debate on NPR and they kept referring to guest workers. GUEST WORKERS.

*Common theme in kids’ cereal commercials, silly rabbit: the assertion that the product is enjoyed exclusively by an elite class. Hardly surprising from an industry that derives much of its methodology used to this day from experiments performed in token-economy systems in mental hospitals.


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