Published in the Iola Register on Mar. 22, 2013.

Letter to the Editor 3-22-13

Dear Editor,
The word “gentleman” originally meant something recognizable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone “a gentleman” you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not “a gentleman” you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was not a contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman. But then there came people who said – “Ah, but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behavior? Surely he is a true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?”
 They meant well. To be honorable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing.  When a word ceases to be a term of description, it no longer tells you the facts about the object. It only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object. As a result, gentleman (as it was originally intended) is now a useless word. If anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanation.”
 This same argument can be made from a little different perspective. Throughout the world of nature, new discoveries are being recorded daily and, generally speaking, the one making the discovery is rewarded with the pleasure of naming the find. You can imagine the confusion that would be caused if this new discovery was given the same name as a previously named organism. No, each new find is given its unique name.
 What comes to mind when you hear the word "marriage"? According to the Webster's dictionary it is defined as "the state of being married; relationship between a man and woman who have become husband and wife."
 The word "marriage" and the institution it represents have significant meaning and great value; and therefore, its definition is worth defending. If we read, watch or listen to the news of the day, it should become obvious that there is an effort to redefine the word "marriage." Since the present culture seems bent on establishing relationships that in the past have not been recognized, it would seem sensible that words be assigned defining each new relationship; to avoid confusion and to keep the word "marriage" from losing its original meaning and becoming useless to future generations.
Steve Nelson