Friday, January 18, 2008
Occasionally I become dimly aware that I am using a new word or an old word in a new way. The latest is entitlement, a word I don't think I used at all before about six months ago. It is a word used in many contexts, but almost all are political. For example, there was an article I read a couple of weeks ago pointing out that both Clinton and Obama had a sense of entitlement about the presidency. Also there is widespread condemnatory talk of the entitlement culture, which is, in essence, a new way of saying that rights entail responsibilities. I am also periodically made aware of a sense of wounded entitlement thanks to my Ponder Post 10: Tattoos?. This remains my most hit post. The primary theme of the comments is that I had no right to say that I didn't like tattoos, specifically - and, perhaps, most woundingly - that I could not find a person with a tattoo attractive. People have a right to bear tattoos, they say. True, but that in no ways limits my right to say they repel me. If I cannot say that, then I can say nothing meaningful about any human behaviour other than that it is none of my business and, if pressed, I might be obliged to have sex with a tattooed person. This, I suppose, is the ultimate logic of those who feel, above all, entitled. I don't like the sound of these people. Unlike so many neologisms, entitlement seems to be a word worth having.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 9:37 am