Double Speak, British-Style
Snoopygoon is very creative this morning, with this post:
The latest brouhaha in the British parliament clearly shows that some conservatives still cannot figure out the power of PCS (Politically Correct Speak). The new invention of the Home Secretary that will ease the task of isolation and extermination of terrorism is beautiful in its simplicity: if you don't like it - just call it "anti-Islamic". And you are home and dry.Of course, the dreary conservatives who always like things just as they are would vastly prefer to call a terrorist "terrorist", a bomb "bomb", a wife-beater "wife-beater". They just don't get it.I, on the other hand, fell in love with the new idea immediately and have been vigorously applying it in my personal life. Here are some results I am happy to share with you.
Spouse. Definitely Islamic - pure as snow and so good I may even splurge on a burqa as a sign of my appreciation.
Children. Mostly Islamic, but sometimes showing signs of anti-Islamic behavior (like asking for money, refusing to behave, etc.)
Male cat. Definitely anti-Islamic, esp. when stealing food, breaking things and pissing in randomly chosen corners.
Female cat. Generally Islamic, excluding the tendency to cry out loudly at nighttime.
The Japanese car. Superbly Islamic.
The French car. Violently anti-Islamic and may have to be beheaded. Publicly.
Friend #1. Mostly Islamic but doesn't hold his drink. Er... anyway...
Friend #2. Generally Islamic, but doesn't return books. May have to chop off his hand.
Something about British straight-laced struggle to accomodate the promiscuous language of post-modernity stimulates the satirical juices in some people. A few months ago, Norm Geras had this, on more or less the same issue:
First business is to settle on the name of our committee.
'The Struggle Against Terror Committee'?
No, no, Trev, won't do at all; 'Struggle' still contains an adversarial element which might offend any number of people.Hmmm...
'The Campaign Against Terror Committee'?
That's better but still worries me for some reason. Any thoughts, Clarice?
Yes, 'Campaign' is too energetic and, followed by 'Against', it does conjure up the thought of, well, struggle or warfare.I know... What about 'Committee for the Idea that Terror May Be Unhelpful'?
If I may, Sir Rupert...
Please, David, do go ahead.
Two points. First, I thought it was already decided that we were replacing 'Terror' by 'Extremist Ideology'. Second, 'Idea that etc' retains a somewhat authoritarian ring since it doesn't problematize its own constructed and relative nature. Might I suggest, in light of these two considerations, 'Committee for the Debatable Point of View that Extremist Ideology May Be Unhelpful'
Lovely. We're making brilliant progress here - but I'm sure all members of the committee can now see that 'Extremist Ideology' will have to go as well. It undermines what 'Debatable Point of View' brings out so nicely. To adapt a well-known saying: 'One person's extremist ideology is another person's programme of social liberation.' Clarice?
'Committee for the Debatable Point of View that What Some See as a Programme of Social Liberation May...' Uhh... No... 'May Be Unhelpful' is too abrasive. Got it! 'Committee for the Debatable Point of View that What Some See as a Programme of Social Liberation is Itself Also Debatable'.
Marvellous. Well done, all of us! We now have, for the name of our committe, a real instrument of public harmony.
Excuse me, Sir Rupert...Yes, Rocky.
Haven't we slightly lost sight of the idea that there's something we need to... well, stop from happening.
Oh, put a sock in it, Rocky. That's typical of your macho posturing and lack of feeling for the realities of a world of diverse viewpoints. Meeting closed.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Double Speak, British-Style