Labels and the Propensity of the Right to Mame Language to Mislead Masses

Truly a fun read about how GOP pols and pundits have diminished meaningful communication through the misuse of language.

John Viall creatively captures the RW spirit of using labels as pejoratives rather than functioning aids to communication.

Here’s a sample of Mr Viall’s premise:

When pressed to clarify such statements later, Mr. West backed off slightly, but his campaign manager, Tim Edson, insisted when speaking with reporters that labels weren’t the point. And by that, I believe he meant “words in an actual dictionary.” Maybe none of the Democrats in Congress were actually card-carrying commies. So what?

“We can quibble about the terminology used to describe them,” Edson grumbled, “but it’s clear. Whatever you call people that oppose capitalism and free markets and individual economic freedom —maybe it’s ‘socialist,’ maybe it’s ’communist’ —but that’s the point the congressman was making, and he stands by the words.”

It struck me, on reading Edson’s response, that he would have been just as happy if his boss had called Democrats in Congress toaster ovens or card-carrying poltergeists. And that’s when it finally hit me. For fringe conservatives, at least, labels no longer meant what they meant in the English language.

You could call the president or any liberal a communist, a curmudgeon, or a cucumber. It wouldn’t make an ounce of difference.

The linked essay is a fun read, and hits on a very salient point: We can’t communicate when language is rendered meaningless by the barrage of ill-used labels in our political discourse. Yeah, it’s deliberate on the right. Sound-bites move herds faster than facts and a common language.
Writer/lyricist Alan Jay Lerner had dear Professor Henry Higgins singing “Use proper English, you’re regarded as a freak….” We often consider how Huxley and Orwell were prescient. Well, Lerner was too. “One common language I’m afraid we’ll never get….”

Giving serious consideration to becoming a “card-carrying poltergeists” my own bad self. Thinking the meetings might be fun, if illusive.

Now, which poltergeist group to join? American Poltergeists United? Or, Poltergeists Without Borders?


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