“Right is Right . . . Right?!”

The New Annoying “OK?! . . . OK?!”

By Jorge D.H. Prósperi, 2020

Have you ever been listening to one of your favorite political pundits, savoring her/his intelligent, comprehensive critical thinking when suddenly they spoiled the thought with an annoying . . . “RIGHT!?”  Followed by another delicious comprehensive comment but ending with yet another “RIGHT?! 

I want to scream, “YES! YES! RIGHT!, RIGHT! . . . PLEASE STOP REAFFIRMING YOUR THOUGHTS . . . I GET IT, GOT IT!  NO NEED TO PLEAD FOR AFFIRMATION!”

It is getting quite annoying to hear “RIGHT?!,” “RIGHT?!” everyone being “RIGHT?!” MSNBC, FOX NEWS, CNN all using the “RIGHT,!? for closure of a thought -seemingly a phenomenon used for self-attestation. Or is it insecurity or doubt that the finished sentence lacks the weight of veracity, credibility, accuracy and/or authority.  Regardless, it leaves listeners with a question that has become an irritating habit and distraction.

It is annoying enough to listen to Breaking News over and over and over, that most often by 1:00pm is quite broken. We are subjected to stories with different spins by pundits and contributors . . . all affirming their positions and opinions with, “We all know this . . . RIGHT?!”  over and over “RIGHT?!” . . . captive audiences  subjected to tsunamis of “RIGHT?!” 

Gosh that “RIGHT?!” gets on my nerves! Just like those teachers who always finished their sentences with “OK?!:  . . . “OK?!”  From Kindergarten through graduate school . . . “OK?!: . . . “OK!?”  

Some of us kept score as to the number of “OKs?!” we would be subjected to within one class. Mr. Zimmerman was the grand champion of “OKs?! Not only did he OK!? us to death in the classroom but took his “OK?!s” to the field as a coach and really revved up the OKs?! as our forensic advisor.  We often wondered, as mischievous AP and IB students do, whether he took his OKs?! home . . . I leave the scenarios we conjured up to your imagination. 

That Mr. Z was a forensics advisor is ironic as he should have known better to end sentences with a parting interrogative blurt.  For clarification, our forensics club was not related to science or becoming a mortician. It had nothing to do with Quincy the TV forensic Medical Examiner but with the field of communication – acting, speaking – dealing with a verbal argumentative forum and/or disclosure. 

Since 2016 academicians and pundits have been asking whether language matters any more? They complain about the elementary, incoherent – at times childish and moronic language used by the highest authority in America . . . yes . . . the president of our nation speaking like a dullard, unlettered. Please don’t take offense. Don’t we want presidents to sound somewhat schooled, astute, intelligent – able to respond to a question comprehensively – able to explain an issue with illustrations, evidence, corroboration, logic and coherence? Is this asking too much? 

Upon hearing the president speak, my wife and I often . . . all too often . . .  turn to each other and with all sincerity and surprise ask, “What the hell did he just say?!” “Did you hear what I just heard?!” “Did it make any sense?!” 

You would think that with all of the “intelligencia” surrounding a president, someone would provide a few synonyms, antonyms and even a simplistic metaphor that he and his base could decipher – even though it may need the scrolling of a chyron for clarification as to meaning and intent. 

Let’s keep in mind that this president also meets Heads of States, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Royalty that often speak several languages and are fluent in English. At times I must admit that I have been embarrassed by our head of state . . . and what a state of being it is!

It also makes me aware and proud of being a bi-lingual immigrant who can shift at will from one language to another. Interesting that we used to be told that speaking a 2nd language was a detriment and yelled at, “Speak a the English!”  Well . . . as Señor Gomer Pyle would posit,  ¡Sorpresa! ¡Sorpresa! Some of us learned it better than those who taught to us. 

Bilingualism has also become a talent often sought by HR departments. So be damn proud of your ability to speak, comprehend, read, write and think in a 2nd or 3rd language! The 21st Century salutes you. 

It is said that the current president is intimidated by intellectual capacity and critical thinking. I don’t blame him being continually compared to President Obama – a joy to listen to his fluency of language – always respecting our intelligence – asking us to not only listen – but think – not to mention always leaving us with hope, inspiration and challenges to our citizenship.

We could lick our fingers on President Obama’s reasoning, logic and common sense. He connected mind and heart to spirit. How I miss having a president who each time he spoke demonstrated intelligence, fluency, articulateness and honorableness. Can I hear a resounding and well deserved “RIGHT?!”  How about an “AMEN!” 

Many of his speeches will be studied by students and historians recognizing just how fortunate we were to have such a stellar example of a leader. 

Each year there are lists of words that are posted that have become overused and have lost relevance. Other lists deal with current and future hip slang words and phrases outdated and trite. There are even lists for words most used in a month.

I now propose that “RIGHT?!” is the“WRONG!” way to end a sentence. Let us allow for a deliciously presented sentences to end without interruptions and stand on its own merits allowing it to breathe . . . 

We can do this as what has been constructed can be deconstructed. (Makes me think of the upcoming 2020 elections.)

At a recent “Meet Your Teachers Night” (the kids call it “Meet Your Creatures Night!”) the principal introduced the event with some shots across the audience’s  bow with some 8 “OKs?!” along with 5 “RIGHTs?!.”  My wife and I started counting after the third one. 

By the way, during the night we met well prepared, high-minded creatures, teachers who were still holding high Mr. Zimmerman’s banner . . . “OK!?!” – “OK?! – “Right?!” – “RIGHT?!”