Journalism

Why Viewers Complained About Calling Karen Pence By Name

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During a recent visit from Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence, there was a somewhat unexpected controversy over her name.

When Mike and Karen Pence recently visited our area, it was understood we would cover their visit.

Vice President Pence met with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster in Columbia to discuss school reopening plans. Pence, after all, heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The second couple then came to Charleston for a political campaign event.

Second lady Karen Pence also visited a group of veterans during her stop in Charleston.

I’ve often said that if you’re determined to find something to complain about, sooner or later, you will. You’ll find something to trigger you when you’re in that kind of mood.

It doesn’t really matter what intent the person who “offends” you had; if you’re determined enough, you’ll find something to set you off.

I had a viewer complain that we mentioned the second lady by name on social media.

Let me stop for a quick second to address one point: I don’t capitalize “second lady” because of AP Style. Since “second lady” is not an official title, AP Style dictates that it should not be capitalized.

Back to the story. They were upset that we called Karen Pence Karen Pence.

I didn’t understand their objection at first. It is her name, after all. What else would we possibly call her?

But as others debated the perceived “slight,” I realized what the complaint was about.

‘Karen’ has taken on a new meaning lately.

The Urban Dictionary tells us the name Karen now refers to “rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle aged white women.”

You may recall the case of a woman in Central Park who called 911 on a Black man she claimed threatened her. The man recorded their interaction on his phone and she wound up being charged. Though her name wasn’t Karen, people referred to her that way, among other things.

The term has apparently been around for years, but only recently has it really gained traction.

And therein lies the anger.

People assumed that by calling Mrs. Pence by her actual name, which does happen to be Karen, some editorial comment was being inserted.

They were wrong of course. Her name is her name. Period.

I do feel a bit bad for anyone who happens to be named Karen. Not because it’s a bad name, but because they may find themselves caught up in this kind of craziness.

But like I said: if you really want to be offended by something, sooner or later you’ll find something to get offended by.

The rest of us, I hope, realize that not every Karen is a Karen.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.