Is Naked Mountain, Va., too risqué for families to visit? Should access be restricted to adults only? Or should it be renamed to something less objectionable, like Partially Clothed Mountain? Perhaps Au Naturale Mountain would be obscure enough so as not to incite impure thoughts.
Sounds ridiculous, I know, but no more ridiculous than what’s really happening in the Maryland state legislature. State Sen. Lisa Gladden and eight other lawmakers put forth a proposal that would create a commission to suggest new names for two mountains that, according to Gladden, have objectionable names: Negro Mountain and Polish Mountain.
Negro Mountain is thought to be named in honor of a heroic 18th century black man. An effort some years ago to rename it Black Hero Mountain failed because a commission found the name Negro Mountain was not intended to be derogatory.
Nobody knows the origin of Polish Mountain’s name, but apparently being called Polish is offensive. Even if you’re from Poland.
Words, even those used as proper names, have meaning. Especially when words are used as names, they should be chosen carefully and deliberately. However, we also should acknowledge the context in which they’re chosen and used. (See the recent attempts to revise Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.)
Names tell a story, whether or not those names fit into the politically correct sensibilities of subsequent generations.
If this proposal passes in Maryland, I’ll bet it’s a matter of time before some of my beloved Virginia mountains suffer the same fate:
- Sugarloaf Mountain will become the more healthful Aspartame Mountain.
- Poor Mountain will become Economically Disadvantaged Mountain.
- Whitetop Mountain will become Caucasiantop Mountain.
- Chicken Mountain will become the vegan-friendly Soy Mountain.
- Bald Mountain will become Follically Challenged Mountain.
I hope this trend doesn’t spread to other states. Otherwise, the folks in Intercourse, Pa., had better start thinking now of a new name. And keep it clean!
Filed under: Lessons From Life | Tagged: Intercourse Pennsylvania, Lisa Gladden, Mark Twain, Maryland, Naked Mountain, Negro Mountain, place names, Polish Mountain, political correctness, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Virginia |