Not Boldly, Then
November 13, 2018
With space exploration, we have to consider how we are using language, and what it carries from the history of exploration on Earth. Even if words like “colonisation” have a different context off-world, on somewhere like Mars, it’s still not OK to use those narratives.
In the pages of National Geographic, Nadia Drake and Lucianne Walkowicz competitively fret about how terribly problematic the language of space exploration is:
I think the other [word not to be used] is “settlement.”
I’ll give you a moment to process that one.
That comes up a lot and obviously has a lot of connotations for folks about conflict in the Middle East. I think that’s one that people often turn to when they mean “inhabitation” or “humans living off-world.”
Apparently, notions of our species expanding into space are “born from racist, sexist ideologies that historically led to the subjugation and erasure of women and indigenous cultures,” and must therefore be corrected by the lofty and woke. And so, “government agencies, journalists, and the space community at large” are “revising the problematic ways in which space exploration is framed.”
Numerous conversations are taking place about the importance of using inclusive language, with scholars focusing on decolonising humanity’s next journeys into space, as well as science in general.
You see, any attempts to colonise other worlds, or to explore and exploit astronomical objects, will have to be pre-emptively “decolonised” and purged of gender by the neurotically pretentious. Lest our astronauts and astronomers instantly start oppressing their black or female colleagues, rendering them tearful with the words unmanned probe, while spitting on the floor and shouting about the merits of Arcturian poontang.
Needless to say, the word frontier is also deemed “problematic,” due to “narratives… based around European settlement.”
I suppose the above is what happens when otherwise clever people are encouraged to cultivate worldviews that depart from reality, often quite dramatically, but which nonetheless convey in-group status, which they choose to value more. The implication that referring to, say, a populated outpost on the Moon as a colony or a settlement will somehow be “harmful,” resulting in distress, or the raping and pillaging of all that indigenous lunar dust, is somewhat comical and contrived; but evidently that doesn’t matter. What matters is letting your peers know just how woke, and therefore statusful, you are, at least compared to the heathen rabble.