I received an excellent criticism earlier regarding today's post at Power Line. In the spirit of provoking thought, I share it here, with names withheld:
Dear Mr. Tepoorten:
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the marine from your town. Every time I hear or read anyone referring to the men and women serving our country as 'kid' or 'kids' I write and ask that they use a term that doesn't sound so patronizing. In your Powerline letter you referred to Corporal Benson as a "brave kid" and then again as a "fantastic kid".
"Kids" is a term used more suitably by Buffalo Bob in asking "Hey kids, what time is it?" Or, by a parent yelling "O.k. kids, everyone in the car!"
The "kids" reference is used far too often by too many including V.P. Cheney and President Bush and I have e-mailed both long ago requesting they stop using that term. I'm sure Corporal Benson and his fellow marines and soldiers and airmen would appreciate this small consideration. Especially Corporal Benson, he's earned it.
Here is my reply:
Thank you very much for your very reasonable criticism. In fact, I had not intended the email I sent to Power Line to be included in the story and, upon seeing it there, was also a little miffed at myself for using the word "kid."
I can assure that my use of the term was meant solely to reflect the difference in age between myself and him and not meant to be in any way disrespectful. To me, 36, Benson is still a "kid" having just graduated from high school a couple of years ago. Still, looking back I wish I had used the term "young man" or something that would not be viewed, as you have pointed out, as patronizing.
Rest assured I shall not make the same mistake twice, and thanks again for taking the time to write and point it out..............Pat
Reasonable Critic took the time to respond again and was very magnanimous:
You have a good heart and have shown it by your concern for Corporal Benson and he is fortunate to have you and others in your community supporting him. I didn't intend to be critical in my first e-mail, merely wanting to let you know how it sounded and you were aware of that before I wrote. Others may have not have been as perceptive or caring.
Since Buffalo Bob and his Howdy Doody Show went off the air a decade before you were born, my reference using him may not have been real familiar. But a clown character on the show named Clarabelle later became kids tv star Captain Kangaroo who may be much more familiar to you. Here's a link to more on Buffalo Bob: http://www.fiftiesweb.com/tv/howdy-doody.htm
The important part of all of this is Corporal Benson and the caring community you live in. My best to you all.
And my best to Reasonable Critic, who points out that when a person has experienced what our soldiers have, and when they have achieved the things they have, they deserve to be regarded beyond their mere age in years relative to our own.
I wish I had thought of it yesterday, but I'll take it today.