Saturday, October 6, 2007

Debasement of language

The debasement of american english: conservative, military and even ...

Republicans say they are conservatives with conservative values. I, posit, that I am a conservative and no Republican. Very few Republicans follow conservative principles*, they are merely Republicans (approaching fascism). There are principles that are what they are, irrespective of whom abides by them. This absolute loyalty to one's party or class does not respect principle. The Republicans are loathe to criticize or acknowledge the transgressions of their own. To be consistent with one's stated position necessitates open disagreement with others who are not. Reagan may have, jocularly, issued an eleventh commandment, but it holds stronger than the other ten .

Edmund Burke portrait. Joshua Reynolds studio. c.1768. London.
A political thinker that is recognized as a conservative is Edmund Burke (1729-97). Compare this list of his aphorisms with today's established power and george junior, and see, to what degree, are Republicans conservative? And if I, were to, give you more quotes from Saint Augustine and other men of conservative principle, would that drive the point home?
  • Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist.
  • Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.
  • But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.
  • But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.
  • Falsehood is a perennial spring.
  • Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.
  • I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people.
  • If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.
  • In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority.
  • It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.
  • It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.
  • Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.
  • Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principle.
  • Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
  • No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
  • One that confounds good and evil is an enemy to good.
  • Our patience will achieve more than our force.
  • People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have most to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.
  • The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
  • The march of the human mind is slow.
  • The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
  • The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.
  • There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity - the law of nature and of nations.
  • Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.
  • Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to anything but power for their relief.
  • To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.
Air Force Colonel David Opfer is the spiritual founder of Fox News [sic]. Fox's premise is that the establishment media is liberally biased [sic], so it presents "the news" for you to decide. David Opfer, is an individual, that, I know virtually nothing about, but he is emblematic for the one sentence he spoke in a fit of perturbence. He was upset about the reporting on the war he was involved in, and he complained, "You always write it's bombing, bombing, bombing. It's not bombing, it's air support".

Here it is in miniature. The accuracy and truth of observation should be suppressed to support the goal and programs of those in power. Military euphemism is quite de rigeur in today's America, death and destruction is replaced with words that connotate reality obliquely. The logic of Christ tells us,"But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil". --Matthew v.37. This language of creative euphemism is dishonest. Once in America, some military men spoke honestly -- "War is hell" -- General Wm. T. Sherman. Now, this logic leads directly to: that the preparations for warring are the preparations for hell. And who in the press and in the public says such things?

Alexander Haig tortured english into gobbledygook. This he picked up in the military, between jargon, acronyms, euphemisms, et cetera. He brought this into the executive branch. Honest language describes and illuminates clarity; it does not obscure and make nebulous. When it does the latter, you must be sceptically curious and on guard.

Words mean what they mean. Their definitions are not determined by the hearer or speaker, and certainly, not by the least knowledgeable. If words are misused or misunderstood that should not be the accepted usage. Words do change overtime, I admit, but that change is gradual and was greater prior to mass printing than now. The more literate a nation is, the more stable are the meanings of words and the fallback position is that of the more ancient usage as the standard.

Enemies of language are bureaucracy -- military, government, business. The language of advertising can be simply analyzed by its deviousness and trickery as being grievously suspect. When this spreads to journalism and conversation, we are debased and maliciously used.

One particularly telling usage is that of the word -- even-- as an adverb. Even is meant to be an emphatic intensifier. In advertising and every day on the local "news reporting" it is used to list the third member of that list, when it can only be synonymous with "and" or "also" or "and this too". This false emphasis is to make hype of the mundane and to mislead that the trivial is vital or extraordinary.

Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.--F. Scott Fitzgerald
* Chuck Hagel, Ron Paul, Bruce Fein

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