"All anthropologists would agree that the negative use of the terms 'primitive' and 'Stone Age' to describe tribal peoples has serious implications for their welfare," the British-based Association of Social Anthropologists said Tuesday. "Governments and other social groups have long used these ideas as a pretext of depriving such peoples of land and their resources."
The edict is the result of a kerfuffle that began last March when Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, described two Botswana tribes as "trying to stay in the Stone Age" and "primitive" during a spirited debate. Though she later said she was misunderstood, Mrs. Tonge was criticized in the British press as "primitive" herself.
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It presents an odd cultural moment for the Martin Agency, a Richmond-based advertising agency that created sullen cave men characters to market Geico insurance. The wildly successful campaign features well-dressed but disgruntled Neanderthals arguing against the use of cave man images to market Geico's claims department -- "so easy a cave man could do it."
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"Anthropologists side with Geico's cavemen," said Ted Nudd of Adweek, an industry publication.
For once, I am nonplussed.