Requiem for a Word

Written by Drew on August 18th, 2008

Yesterday, in an interview broadcast on one of the Sunday talk shows, Tom Ridge said he thought he would make a good running mate for John McCain, despite their differences on the issue of abortion.

Speaking of this fundamental and important difference, Ridge commented on Senator McCain, saying, “He’s not judgmental about me or my belief. He just disagrees with me.”

What does judgmental mean anyway? There was a time when judgments conjured up images of courtrooms and lawyers cross-examining witnesses to get to the truth. Being judgmental meant studying the evidence to arrive at a sound decision. Before political correctness was in vogue, you couldn’t disagree with someone properly without being judgmental, because you had to make a judgment about something before you could enter into a discussion.

Times have changed. Ridge’s comment reflects a common attitude that judging someone–whatever that means–is the cardinal sin.

The most popular verse among the unchurched is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not that you be not judged.” It sounds good when your feet are being put to the fire. It’s a Scriptural way to say, “Hey, get off my back!” Of course, in context Jesus’ words were a judgment in themselves about hypocrisy. But few people take the time to look past Matthew 7:1 to the next few verses.

So I’m declaring the death of the word judgmental. Over the last few years it has gotten heavy and old, unable to stay crisp and useful. Not able to keep up with today’s “disagreements” and “spirited debates,” it collapsed on the speedway of American language, and every attempt to resuscitate it has been unsuccessful.

Alas! poor judgmental. I knew him well.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Aaron S. Alsbrook says:

    On the lighter side: didn’t you mean ‘Spirited Contemporary Discussions’?

    I appreciate your blog, and look forward to reading your future posts.

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