HIGHTOWER: The Corporate Attack on Accents

Let's talk about talk.I've often commented on free speech issues, laughed with you about the intrusion of cell phones into every corner of our society, and denounced the corporate media for restricting the kind of viewpoints that they allow to be expressed -- but I never thought that the way we talk would be an issue.I'm talking about accents in America. The more discerning among you might have heard in my own voice the slight trace of an accent -- of the twangy Texas variety. But I love the varied accents of all the American people -- Boston brogues, cajun patois, the Scandinavian tones of Minnesotans, the unique sounds of Appalachia, the Bronx, Virginia, and elsewhere, all a part of the richness of our great country.It seems that the hierarchy of corporate America, however, is not charmed by all this cultural richness and prefers to have its up-and-comers speak plain-vanilla, accentless English. If you want to be promoted up through management ranks, and in some cases if you want to keep your job, better lose that sassy tone of the Big Apple or that sweet Southern drawl. The Dallas Morning News reports that there's been a surge in corporate employees going to speech pathologists and paying some $85-an-hour to get "accent reduction therapy." Nor is it only the accents that the companies want to eliminate from the office -- they also want us to drop our regionalisms like "howdy," replacing it with the uniform "hello." The word is spreading in CorporateWorld that employees who don't fit the company mold won't move up ... and might be moved out.What we have here is another giant leap toward the total McDonaldization of our culture. Our food, our political parties, our television shows, our shopping centers, our housing developments all are taking on a bland uniformity that washes the personality, the uniqueness, the soul right out of us.This is Jim Hightower saying ... People of America, rebel! Don't give corporations your tongue, too.

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