Our Israeli correspondent MC takes a look at the battle being waged to control the dictionary, especially where political and social matters are concerned.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
From Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
The pen, so we are told, is mightier than the sword, and thus we became victims. Victims of a war waged not in the land masses or the oceans, but in the dictionary.
‘Gay’, ‘pansy’ and ‘fairy’, for example have been hijacked at some time or other to redefine homosexuality, in doing so, the “love that dare not speak its name” has spoken several of its names, and thereby trivialised itself by using language out of the nursery. There is nothing ‘gay’ about same sex-relationships that I am aware of — they seem to have more than their fair share of relationship stresses and strains without the benefits of real parenthood.
But these neologisms seem innocuous when we look at how the word ‘freedom’ has been vandalised. Freedom used to be about taking responsibility for one’s own actions; but not now, we have, for example, freedom of religion — except where Islam is concerned; it is more important not to ‘offend’ Muslims by having a Christmas tree than it is to preserve freedom. We have freedom of speech — except when it is homophobic. We have freedom of information — except where the President’s social security number is concerned.
The word ‘fascist’ has always been difficult to define because it describes the particular aspirations of an Italian neo-communist party to identify with its ancient Roman roots. The fasci, the bundle of sticks wrapped around an axe, were a common link with the past. It is a symbol of absolute power and appears throughout the modern western world. What, however, does ‘fascist’ mean, in modern parlance? It is an epithet used against anybody who does not agree with left liberal/communist doctrines.
‘Religion’ is an interesting for being a word that is in stasis. It should describe any unprovable concept around which humans assemble and promote as truth. Somehow the ‘religions’ based upon ‘science’ have escaped from the bondage of the religious stereotype. The word ‘science’ has also been redefined in recent times. It no longer means ‘knowledge’; its definition has been narrowed to ‘knowledge of the physical world’. Thus socialism, a totally abstract concept, but with its basis on ‘social science’, wriggles free from being described as a religion whilst all the time hiding behind the façade of unproven pseudo-scientific social theory. In economics, Mr. Micawber gave us a very sane definition of the ‘science’ of economics. The rest of it is just religious belief and faith in miracles.
‘Fundamentalism’ has come to be associated with extremes of violence, yet fundamentalist Christian sects, for example, are not, on the whole, physically violent. Fundamentalist Islam is very violent, so much so that it has given new meaning to the word.
Fundamentalist Christians are those who go back to the Bible. Fundamentalist Muslims go back to the Koran. The Bible is essentially benign; the Koran is essentially violent. Get the picture?
The political redefinition of the word has been designed to ‘mix’ the two, the violent and the non-violent, in order to demonise Christianity and tar it with the violence-tainted Koranic brush. At the same time, it is intended to justify a preference for ‘moderate’ Islam, whatever that is — ‘moderate’, is that something that has been ‘moderated’? By whom, may we ask in the case of Islam?
The word ‘offended’ has not so much changed its meaning as had its meaning amplified. To be ‘offended’ is now comparable with being physically wounded. It is here that we begin to see how words have been weaponized. Whilst sticks and stones may break my bones, calling me names now ‘hurts’ me even more.
Yet there are caveats here: the victim must be a member of a defined ‘victim groups’. So calling Jews ‘apes and pigs’ is acceptable because it is in the Koran, whereas calling Islam a religion of violence is not acceptable, because — although provably true — Islam is a major victim group, so truth must be subordinate to political convenience.
‘Truth’ therefore suffers. It is no longer tied to the eternal truths of creation as we know it. Truth becomes the ‘opinion’ of the great and the good. Telling the truth now becomes fraught with danger; one must tell only the ‘convenient’ truth. Likewise the ‘lie’ is now not a lie until the great and the good deem it to be a lie.
“You can still keep your old plan” (but subject to our new rules). Lie, what lie? So unemployment is going down because we now only count those looking for work as ‘unemployed’ and by changing the meaning of the word we can ‘verify’ the lie.
“Soros praised the “Republican establishment” for “fighting back” against the Tea Party, who he referred to as a ‘coalition of religious and market fundamentalists.’”
Note the interesting use of weaponized words here; religious, fundamentalists, market and fighting back. What has the “Tea Party” done to the GOP that could warrant “fighting back”, I wonder? Why should the GOP be directed by an avowed socialist to ‘fight back’ against non-violent and reasonably like-minded conservatives?
Could it be that Republicans are no longer conservative?
The objective of weaponizing words is to nuke real dialogue. In an ideal world, the Tea Party would state its causes and complaints. Their concerns would be discussed in the media and generally aired to see if they have relevance and add value. The “fight back” is not about coming up with counter-arguments, it is about suppression of the Tea Party, which thus avoids the need for a counter-argument.
The word ‘racist’ became was the Little Boy of weaponized words. The term ‘racist’ actually holds very little realistic meaning, but it was the first word in the language to be equipped with a ‘colour’ bludgeon in order to stun and beat down any discussion of problems with non-white minorities, or to clobber valid criticisms of white-African presidents and their un-American administrations.
A weaponized word is designed to kill a simple honest conversation, and in doing so, to stop the flow of information and understanding. People with evil intentions do not like free dialogue, and they will think long and hard how to stop the free flow of opinion and information which is so dangerous to them. They amass an arsenal of verbal hand grenades with which they can fragment the unwary and so win the moral high ground.
This is especially true when a biased mass media — which is a relatively new phenomenon — is very much the most effective delivery system of the weaponized word. It provides a constant barrage of these weasel words, each one sinking deep into the fabric of our psyche — unless, that is, we are forewarned, and thus clad in the Kevlar of foreknowledge.