Doublespeak creates world where truth is hard to discern
Doublespeak creates world where truth is hard to discern
Monday, November 27, 2006
Calvin Woodward
Associated Press

Washington- The government's annual accounting of hunger in America reported no hunger in its last outing. Instead, it found "food insecurity."

Likewise, no one is even considering retreating from Iraq. "Redeploying" out of there is, however, an option.

In Washington, words are a moving target that conceal at least as much as they reveal. Doublespeak runs through the discourse on Iraq, terrorism and domestic matters to a point where it's hard to tell what is going on.

The libertarian Cato Institute recently took on the rising tide of fuzzy words in the fight against terrorism, arguing that whatever people think of what the government is doing, it would help to understand what the government is doing.

That is no easy task when the administration offers tortured definitions of torture and describes suicide by captives as "self-injurious behavior incidents."

Interrogations are debriefings.

Propaganda is a struggle "for hearts and minds."

The estate tax is the death tax.

The right to an abortion is the right to "choose."

And can anyone oppose the Patriot Act and still be a patriot?

"By corrupting the language, the people who wield power are able to fool the others about their activities and evade responsibility and accountability," Cato's Timothy Lynch argues in his polemic against doublespeak, an outgrowth of the doublethink and newspeak of George Orwell's "1984."

Marketing sensibilities long ago infiltrated, if not took over, the debate in Washington, a progression most vividly seen in catchy titles given to legislation. These are the same sensibilities that, in the marketplace, prompted rapeseed oil to be sold as canola oil and a delicate fish named slimehead to come to the dinner table as orange roughy.

Republicans came to power in the 1990s offering the American Dream Restoration Act and the Common Sense Legal Reforms Act. President Clinton pitched his Middle Class Bill of Rights.

President Bush this decade defied anyone to stand against something named No Child Left Behind.

Republicans pitch elimination of the "death tax" because it sounds more populist than giving rich people a break by getting rid of the "estate tax" - the same thing.

Democrats will go to the wall in defense of abortion rights without uttering that unpleasant word, abortion. Instead, they are champions of "choice" or, in a less guarded moment, "reproductive choice." (The cause is advocated by progressives, formerly liberals.)

The wish to be technically accurate was behind the decision of the Agriculture Department this year to squeeze "hunger" out of the equation when considering how many people go hungry.

Hunger, in the words of advisers whose recommendations were accepted by the department, is "an individual-level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity."

The word "should refer to a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation."

The department reasoned it cannot truly measure hunger because it surveys households, and households do not get hungry - people do.

The fight against terrorism brings its own evolving vocabulary and semantic arguments, starting with the question of whether the war in Iraq is part of it, as Bush says, or a distraction from it, as his critics contend.

And there is no more "stay the course" on Iraq. Bush found himself on the defensive when a phrase meant to convey a resolute stance came to be seen as inflexibility in the face of chaos. The rhetoric, at least, changed course.

Excellent topic TS92

a bit more from George-

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism

"Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low."

"The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable."