Sunday, January 29th, 2012
We all know what the phrase means: an “illegitimate child” was born to parents who were not legally married.
The phrase originated from an English and Welsh law that said if the oldest son was a “illegitimate child” he could not inherit if the parents of his younger brother were married. Coincidentally, another particular word referring to illegitimate children has become an intermediate curse word over the years.
There are probably five good reasons you won’t find me using profanity.
One of them is because sometimes in order to call someone a profane name, even and especially jokingly, it puts me in a position to judge a person based on an insensitive stereotype or demographic to which I am indirectly validating.
By calling someone this particular modern day curse word I am referring to, it is insinuating that person’s parents were never married; that he was conceived outside of a committed, loving relationship; and therefore, he is not capable of treating people with respect and decency.
But really, which is worse: the phrase “illegitimate child” for tying the word “illegitimate” to the word “child,” or that particular inglorious curse word I keep referring to because it has gained the status of profanity in our culture?
I think the first is worse. Again, this is me being overly analytical and taking things too seriously (and deep) because that’s what I do as a writer, but it’s a crazy thought to consider any child being “illegitimate.” Right?
Sure, I totally realize we don’t literally mean a kid is illegitimate in a literal, overall sense. But it makes me wonder if we really do see certain children as illegitimate.
Maybe part of the reason I am so passionate about this concept that no child is illegitimate is the fact that, like Ron Paul, I am an avid pro-life supporter.
It’s easy to say that no child is illegitimate, but I’m not sure we are convinced about that. At least not until he or she passes through the birth canal.
Be on the look-out next month for No Such Thing as Illegitimate Children, Part 2.
Image: Red stop button in a machine, via Shutterstock.