In my wide-ranging and often random travels through the world of the Internet, I came across a great story from the Santa Clarita Valley (California) Signal. A little article on the uses of Doublespeak.
The Dubya think-tank, in its incredibly finite wisdom, has eliminated hunger in America. Before you run out and cry, “Miniature American Flags For Everyone!”, let me clarify : they’ve eliminated the word hunger from the government vocabulary. Now, instead of going to bed hungry, millions of Americans will be going to bed ‘food insecure’. As if that makes it (pardon the pun or whatever) more palatable.
It’s like I’ve discovered a new religion, and Georges Orwell and Carlin are the prophets. Can anyone with a modicum of intelligence actually believe that by changing how it is referred to that a problem will somehow seem better? It’s an insult to the dignity of those whose reality includes an empty stomach and a bleak future.
That’s the insidious part of Doublespeak, and it’s conjoined twin, Doublethink. By limiting or changing how things are expressed, you can limit how things are perceived, and how they are understood. If those who oppose your ideas aren’t progressive enough or politically correct enough, it makes us better than them, doesn’t it? That’s a tactic that may work if you limit opposition by making the opposite pole seem unreasonable or dangerous. One of the best rhetorical tricks ever was the labeling of the Anti-Abortion movement (which it is, no question) as Pro-Life…Which makes your opponent Pro-Death, or worse, Anti-Life. How can you support that?
How can you not want to War on Terror if the alternative is Making Terror Welcome with Milk and Cookies and Perhaps a Pair of Comfortable Slippers and a Pillow for its Terrory Head?
Language, by its nature, defines understanding. Limiting language limits understanding and reduces the freedom to interpret, which limits reasoning, which leads to accepting the word of authority about What’s Best For Us. Questioning authority has never been more crucial to our survival as a species, and the movement is afoot to head that off at the pass. The easier it is for them to define reality as they see fit, the more they can make the unpleasant aspects of that reality disappear, and make the familar threatening.
We, each of us with the power to reason and question, is fighting the war on terror. The people creating the terror are not in some far-off land, however. They are right here, where we elected them to be.