Delusion, Doublespeak, and Duplicity: Why Language Matters
Let’s start with some quotes from one of the masters of the English language: George Orwell.
From his Politics and the English Language: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
And again: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
From 1984: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
Again, from 1984: “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
Recently, an article from a gender studies journal affiliated with New York University claimed that “dairy cows are forcibly impregnated, or raped, in order to constantly produce milk for humans to consume.”
Let’s ask a few questions about the use of language here. Can cows give consent to impregnation? Can cows be raped? How does the word “forcibly” work in such a context?
Answer: only by twisting the language.
Some males decide they are women. They take steroids, undergo surgeries, and wear women’s clothing. In just a few years, our laws and our society in general have accepted these gender migrations as valid. We even allow transgenders to compete in women’s sports. In short, we accept, or pretend to accept, the proposition that Joe can become Sally.
Except for some who still have eyes to see.
In an interview on feminism and transgenderism, feminist professor and writer Camille Paglia has this to say about the transgendered:
It is certainly ironic how liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warning… flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender. …
The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body (except for blood) remains coded with one’s birth gender for life.
Back to our man George: “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
This explains why Paglia in her writings and interviews sounds sane compared to many other progressives.
Some today believe that abortion should be an option up to the moment of birth. They claim that the fetus has no right to life until separation from the mother. Yet these same people don’t blink when they say to a pregnant woman, “When’s your baby due?”
Why don’t they say, “When’s your fetus due?” Or to be more precise: “When does your fetus become a human being?”
To paraphrase Orwell, thought corrupts language and language corrupts thought.
On and on it goes. If all whites are racists, then what is the definition of racism? If we believe in free speech, but ban speakers from our universities or riot if they appear, then what is free speech? If we believe in freedom of religion, but then redefine the word as did the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2016 – “‘the phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”’ are nothing but ‘code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism…’” – then what does our Bill of Rights mean when it guarantees freedom of religion?
Politicians have undermined the language for decades. They call war a “police action.” An “investment in America” translates as “more taxes and more debt.” “Free education” and “free health care” means picking up the tab for some citizens while making slaves of others. “Illegal aliens” become “undocumented immigrants.” “Enhanced interrogation” is code for torture. “Collateral damage” stands for the killing of civilians during wartime. “Progressive politician” sounds wonderful – who is against real progress? – but refers to politicos looking for more power and more control over their fellow citizens.
Of course, Westerners are amateurs in doublespeak when compared to the Chinese Communists. Here’s just one example. Mass protests have erupted in Hong Kong this summer against the Chinese government. The spark for these protests was China’s demand that certain “criminals” be tried and imprisoned on the mainland, thereby breaking an agreement made between China and Hong Kong twenty years ago.
The Chinese are now labeling many of these protesters “terrorists.” That label gives them the legal right to intervene directly in Hong Kong, and they have stationed troops near Hong Kong’s border in the event they need to deal with these “terrorists.”
When protesters become terrorists, when we corrupt thinking and language, when we can no longer agree on even fundamental definitions for words such as man, woman, marriage, and baby, then we can be certain that more abstract concepts – justice, liberty, the right to speak truth, the dignity of the human person – are in grave jeopardy of being twisted into unrecognizable doublespeak.
Let’s visit George Orwell one more time. In this dialogue from 1984, O’Brien is torturing Winston Smith, trying to convince him that “whatever the Party holds to be truth, is truth.” O’Brien holds up four fingers, but wants Winston to see five.
‘You are a slow learner, Winston,’ said O’Brien gently.
‘How can I help it?’ he blubbered. ‘How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’
‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’
Far too often today, two plus two equals five.
[Image Credit: Flickr-Shawn Allen CC BY 2.0]
This post Delusion, Doublespeak, and Duplicity: Why Language Matters was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Jeff Minick.