In the hyperventilating world of Senate confirmation hearings, where every Senator takes the opportunity to make political points instead of doing his or her job (Spartacus, anyone?), it’s not surprising that we’re again plumbing the depths of human discourse as the Senate works through the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
We expect very little of our Senators when it comes to how they treat each other and nominees, and we’re rarely surprised or disappointed.
But now those putting on their “shocked!” faces are getting an assist from an unlikely source; Merriam Webster, of dictionary fame.
Barrett was asked about how she would handle protections for the LGBTQ community. She responded:
“(I have) never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”
That seems pretty clear, and sort of boring, but not if you’re a Senator looking to be offended, which apparently describes both Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who were both offended that Barrett didn’t use the preferred term of “orientation.”
This apparently got the attention of the folks at Merriam Webster, who publish dictionaries. As recently as Tuesday, October 13, the word “preference” included the definition “orientation,” with a reference to sexual orientation. It was on that day that the dictionary people decided to update the word “preference” as an offensive term.
When questioned about the use of the word, Barrett apologized.