by omnipotentpoobah, Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 01:41:11 PM EST
It’s distressingly easy to find Democrats calling Republicans Nazis and Republicans calling Democrats both Nazis and socialists (Damn, I wish they’d get that straight). As expected, the recent calls for civility in the national discourse lasted about as long as it takes to call someone a Nazi or socialist.
I’m a believer in the George Carlin School of linguistics – they’re only words. If you’re a politician and you can’t overcome your rage at being called a name – which in this case are perfectly acceptable definitions of political ideology – then you shouldn’t be in politics.
How did these particular, common words end up being so offensive?
Because people use them with meaning that aren’t there. Obama is not a socialist. In fact, for a lot of people he isn’t even liberal. The Boehner Boys aren’t Nazis either (for one thing Nazis were efficient and took pride in being called Nazis). BTW, there are other code words twisted into new meanings. “Liberal” is one of the worst epithets in the conservative insult arsenal. Dems prefer “tea baggers” with almost equal vigor.
It’s a basic tenet of communications theory that if you say something long enough, it becomes “true”. And boy, howdy these get tossed around like candy at a pedophile parade.
They’re almost always created as lies, or at least gross exaggerations of the truth. The problem is that people soak them up and begin to give the words their own off-topic narratives to “prove” their label fits. It’s a good political ploy – distract the great unwashed with some kernels of improperly named ideas and then step back and watch things roll. It’s one hell of a lot easier than actually offering alternatives or explaining your position when in fact, there isn’t one…you (insert epithet here).
It’d be useful if politicians didn’t do that and really great if the plebes called them out on it. But, I reckon that’s about as likely as the recent goofy “solutions” for preventing lunatics from shooting at people actually working.
America’s problem isn’t civility – it’s a willful refusal to own what you say.
First everyone buy a dictionary. It’s an invaluable tool here – that is if you can read.
Second, own what you say. If you proclaim someone a socialist, make sure Karl Marks would’ve used the word in the same way. And all you faux Nazi accusers, tell me Hitler wouldn’t have cheered on the continuance of his 1000-year Reich as the best thing since sliced brot.
But above all, stop parsing words to prove you didn’t say what you so obviously did. It’s unbecoming, divisive, and stupid.
Mr. Carlin, sorry we didn’t get your punchline. We’re a slow-learning bunch.
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!