Critical Thinking: History, Irregardless and Grandfathered


Enough is enough. Irregardless is not a word. It’s not, stop using it. It’s got memes, punchlines and the eye rolling. Regardless of how much it is misused, it’s not made its way into the dictionary or the statutes of acceptability. What about Grandfathered? That seemingly innocuous term to indicate a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to existing situations. The etymology of Grandfathered:

The 15th Amendment, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting, was ratified by the states in 1870. If you know your history, you’ll realize that African-Americans were nevertheless kept from voting in large numbers in Southern states for nearly a century more.

Various states created requirements — literacy tests and poll taxes and constitutional quizzes — that were designed to keep blacks from registering to vote. But many poor Southern whites were at risk of also losing their rights because they could not have met such expectations.

The solution? A half-dozen states passed laws that made men eligible to vote if they had been able to vote before African-Americans were given the franchise (generally, 1867), or if they were the lineal descendants of voters back then.

This was called the grandfather clause. Most such laws were enacted in the early 1890s.¹

Consider why is there justifiable outrage over irregardless and nothing on Grandfathered. It is easy to say, “those included or excluded by this new policy are… ” The Grandfathered memes, unfortunately, unlike the irregardless memes perpetuate the use. Continued use of Grandfathered knowing this history is actually aligned with the initial intent, to enfranchise the ignorant and illiterate.

 

 

¹ https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/10/21/239081586/the-racial-history-of-the-grandfather-clause

 

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