Friday, June 10, 2011

The Impotence of Words

Conservatives "know" that America is a conservative nation.  They can feel it in their bones and they hear it from other conservatives all the time, and as we all know, conservatives are the only people who know what they're talking about.  That's what makes them Real Americans, while the majority of us are schlubs and beggars screwing up their once great nation.

And yet...they're constantly perplexed as to why supposedly conservative America continues to support liberal policies, like Social Security, Medicare, and the whole host of Big Government intrusion that denies us our freedom to get screwed at work, poisoned at home, and ripped off in the marketplace.  Surely, a rightwing nation would abhor leftwing government, right?  Right?

And so they've convinced themselves that it's all about the words.  As if the phrase "Social Security" is some magical incantation, and that if they had discovered those magic words first and used them to describe a policy they liked, everyone would love that policy.  Meanwhile, they've somehow been saddled with bad words, like "voucher" and "privatize" that people don't like; and no matter how much they protest, people still use those words to describe what they're doing.

For Republicans, focus groups aren't to find out what people want.  They're to figure out what words people want to hear.  After all, they already "know" what people want, even if the people don't know they want it yet.

Crap By Any Other Name Is Still Crap

But despite Orwell's teachings, that's just not how words work and you CANNOT trick people into enjoying shit even if you call it a "rose."  Because it's not the words that people like or dislike, it's what the words mean.  Sure, proper phraseology can help open the door to getting people to accept or hate something, but eventually, their opinion will be based upon what they think of the actual thing; not the label used to describe it.

Because it's not the word "Medicare" people like, but the program.  If you called it Senior Death Program while explaining it was the same as Medicare, people will support the Senior Death Program and keep calling it Medicare.  Similarly, you can use the word "Medicare" to describe the sick joke of a voucher program conservatives are trying to screw us with, and people will know that it's not Medicare, even if they call it that.

Yet Republicans continue to struggle with their plans to destroy our liberal nation, and rather than admit that they're wrong, continue their search for new words to describe the same old crap they've been foisting upon us for decades.  And if conservatives were more explicit about their plans, no one would vote for them; not because of the words they use, but the policies they support.

Even as it is, they have to lie and distort to get anyone to vote for them.  That would be entirely unnecessary if we were the conservative nation they imagine we are.

Doing It in the John

And that's the way it is with language: It only has the power we grant to it.  We have all sorts of euphemisms to describe toilets, poop, and sex; yet the moment these words are associated with these dirty things, the words become dirty and gentlepeople search out in vain to find yet another euphemism to use when discussing such them. After all, even the word "toilet" was the fancy euphemism used to describe the place we shit.

And so words like ass, bitch, and retarded become off-limits, not because they're inherently offensive, but because they get tainted with usage.  That's why a racist can refer to a minority race using any word you like, including nonsensical invented words, and it'll still sound offensive.  Proper words like "Mexican" and "Black" sound like insults coming from the mouth of a bigot, so much so that non-bigots become cautious when using them, for fear of being mistaken for a bigot.  It's not the PC Police doing this, but the nature of language itself. 

If there isn't a word for something, people will invent one; which is how slang is created and why words change meanings so often.  That's what language is for, and it's easier to guide gushing water with your hands than try to force vocabulary on people that doesn't communicate what they're trying to say.  People like the Arizona shooter who insist that words can be manipulated into controlling our thoughts are simply wrong.  Yes, a good argument goes for towards selling a policy, but the specific terminology isn't going to sell crap, no matter how pretty it sounds.

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