04/18/2006 06:19 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011


I have been educated as an engineer, yet I am fascinated by the use of words, and the intentions of the people who use words like "inappropriate."

A dictionary defines the word as follows:

Not suitable for a particular occasion etc; "inappropriate shoes for a walk on the beach"; not conforming with accepted standards of propriety or taste; undesirable; incorrect behavior; incorrect, wrong: not in keeping with what is correct or proper.

The definition speaks volumes of the generalities of words like "accepted standards", "undesirable", or "proper".

As a young boy, whenever my teachers and others thought that I was doing something "wrong" they would say "Norman, don't you think that what you are doing is "inappropriate"? Being a career "smart ass" I would reply when I had the nerve by saying " isn't it that you don't like what I am doing, and not that what I am doing is wrong" Obviously that rarely worked, and all I succeeded in doing was to upset my teachers.

When I was married, my wife would say about almost everything I did that she did not like or agree with "Norman, what you are doing is inappropriate"? In retrospect the use of the word "inappropriate" was and is, as a rule, totally subjective.

My lifelong friend Myron died, and a mutual friend commenting on my attire at his funeral told me that he didn't think it was appropriate for me to be at Myron's funeral without wearing a coat and tie. This was his version of appropriate, not mine. He knew what was correct, and any variance from that position was "inappropriate, or wrong".

As part of an ongoing controversy, I just loved it when General Meyers, appearing on a Sunday Network program in defense of Secretary Rumsfeld said that the retired Generals who spoke out about Rumsfeld were speaking inappropriately. I just love his use of the word. He uses it to conform to, and support his position. Would these Generals been referred to in the same way if they had supported the Defense secretary? I don't think so.

It is incredible to me that no one ever asked Meyers if he had decided what retired officers were allowed to speak about after their retirement. Is it OK for them to be critical of the Secretary of Labor, but not the Secretary of the Treasury? Also, if it is "inappropriate" for them to be critical of Rumsfeld, how long are they precluded from making comments about him?

If given the opportunity, I would ask General Meyers what if anything of importance the Generals could have said that he would have considered "appropriate"? Is it OK for Colonels, Majors or Captains who retire to be critical of ANYONE?

With the subjective nature of the "I" word, it would be more accurate, and thus more acceptable to me for the people who say the "I" word were to start with "In my opinion it was inappropriate, or better still, in my opinion it was wrong".

Never mind all of this "stuff". I have been "seduced" as usual by an administration that has sent its "legions" forth to change the subject concerning the Secretary of Defense. The issue is not the Generals, or the "I" word, the issue remains the other "I" word. That word is INCOMPETENT! Not very complicated.

How many people can say today how well things are going in Iraq? The situation there is dreadful. It does not matter why Rumsfeld has failed, it sadly only matters to America that he did fail, and he should resign or be fired. Other then the President, whom else can we hold responsible for the current mess? I don't know, but rest assured, THEY will find someone.

Norman Horowitz, Candidate for the future position of Chief of the Appropriate Police