Words Matter – Newspeak in the Modern Age

Words Matter – Newspeak in the Modern Age

I have a good friend who I deployed with who was fond of reminding me (and everyone else that would listen) that ‘words matter.’  I took his admonition to heart and have since made a hobby of listening to how our language is evolving and is often manipulated to achieve one political agenda or another.  It’s amazing how a little language tweak can hide the complexities of an issue, get folks to ride an emotional wave in a new direction or even stand an argument on its head.  What’s particularly troubling is when language is purposefully manipulated to make the abridgement of freedoms more acceptable or reduce self reliance.

I’ve written previously about George Orwell’s admonitions against collectivism and specifically the premise behind what Orwell called ‘Newspeak’ in his classic book 1984.  Newspeak was a modification to the language so that ‘Big Brother’ could exert greater control and change the way people think.  By modifying the language, Big Brother hoped to eliminate ‘thoughtcrime’ and the drive for freedom.

While we are fortunate enough to live in a society that is still ruled more by law than by man, there is a potential tyranny to such language manipulation and even some language changes made under the cover of ‘political correctness.’  While these manipulations aren’t centralized (as in from Big Brother’s government) in their origin they still represent our own version of Newspeak.

One recent example of this phenomena was when Rep. John Conyers Jr. admonished the House Judiciary Committee:

I hope no one uses the term illegal immigrants here today. Our citizens are not — the people in this country are not illegal. They are are out of status. They are new Americans that are immigrants…

Rep John Conyers Jr. via Top Democrat warns against using term ‘illegal immigrants’ – Washington Times.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.It’s interesting that Conyers goes beyond the ‘people can’t be illegal’ argument and actually makes the case that people who entered the U.S. illegally or overstayed their visas (also illegal) are ‘citizens’ or at the very least ‘new Americans’ who will, presumably become citizens shortly.  I won’t broaden the discussion of ‘status challenged’ immigrants or the wink and nod approach the Federal government has (not just the Obama Administration either) towards illegal immigration… but I wanted to point out this example.

Below are some additional (and yes most are politically charged) examples of language manipulation by those with the power or influence to do so.

  • Gun Free Zone:  Personally, I think that ‘Victim Zone’ or ‘Defenseless Zone’ is a more accurate description as ‘come and get us, we can’t defend ourselves here’ is just too long.  Maybe something a little more neutral like ‘Legal-Gun Free Zone’ or a Criminal & Cop Guns Only Zone’ would be more appropriate.  I’d personally like to replace these laws and signs with ‘Licensed CCW Welcome’ or something similar.
  • Universal Background Checks:  How ‘universal’ are background checks that exempt criminals… it’s strange but true that criminals won’t submit to background checks and will buy firearms on the black market or steal them from law abiding gun owners…especially when we make it easy by publishing the target addresses.  Instead of ‘Universal Background Checks’ maybe we should call this ‘Legal Guns for the Taking List’ as such background checks could be used as part of a confiscation regime by some future administration that’s not as Constitution friendly as those we’ve been blessed with up until now.

Here’s an idea for you Washington…make a list of those adjudicated (still need due process to deprive someone of a right) to have lost their rights to self defense.  This list of convicted felons, mentally ill (after due process only) and the like will be checkable by any citizen or gun dealer online…if someone isn’t on the list than you can sell them the firearm without any other paperwork.  We make the crime any firearms transfer to someone on the list.  If I were selling a firearm I’d check the list, note it on the Bill of Sale and keep a copy in my gun safe until the statute of limitations ran out.

  • Gun Show Loophole:  ‘Loopholes’ are bad right…it sounds like you’re trying to avoid complying with a law if you’re using a ‘loophole.’  There’s no such thing as a ‘Gun Show Loophole’ because our firearms laws for licensed dealers were written so that no background check was required at gun shows….it’s not a loophole it’s a legal transaction.  The correct term is ‘legal sale.’
  • Illegal Immigration vs Undocumented Worker:  Let’s see… the proponents of ‘Undocumented Worker’ say that a person can’t be ‘illegal’ but how can anyone be undocumented…there’s a birth certificate, drivers license, or even forged ID for most every person in this country whether they came (or stayed) here legally or not.  That said, are all people that are ‘Undocumented’ really ‘Workers?’  I wish there were a term we could use to seriously discuss those that have skirted or broken our immigration laws that wasn’t so politically charged.  Maybe this is a place where we can come up with a truly neutral alternative ‘Potentially Nice and Thoroughly Human Person Who Broke Our Laws to Be Here’ or ‘Unconvicted Immigrant who Came Here Illegally.’
  • Patriot Act:  How is giving up freedoms patriotic… weren’t freedom and the preservation of rights founding values of our nation.  This act also made me take all kinds of silly classes to teach me how to spot if a financial transaction was suspicious…like I couldn’t tell already.  Tapping (U.S.) phones without the due process of a warrant truly is a potential tool of tyranny.
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA):  Sometimes we give something a name the the exact opposite of what we expect will happen just to make folks feel better about supporting it.  This act was so poorly named that it’s opponents tried a little Newspeak of their own and you may know it better as ‘Obamacare.’  For those that haven’t taken the time to research the ACA in depth… it’s nothing more than Phase I of a two Phase plan to move the U.S. to a ‘Single Payer System’… another Newspeak term meaning government controlled health care or socialized medicine.
  • Liberal:  This one really galls me.  I consider myself a liberal in the classic sense of having a live and let live attitude.  I believe that you should have the freedom to do anything you want until it interferes with my freedoms (note that this also includes protecting me from paying for your freedoms).  It infuriates me that modern ‘liberals’ want as much or more government intervention in individual lives as they accuse ‘conservatives’ of wanting.  Classical ‘liberals’ are now saddled with the term ‘Libertarian’ which the influential in both political camps are actively portraying as whack jobs and frequenters of tin foil haberdasheries.
  • Support the 2nd Amendment for Sportsmen:”  I have to admit that I fell for this one for several years when I was a young man and was more concerned with feeding my family than making sure we could feed ourselves forever.  The Obama administration isn’t the first administration to try and confuse the citizenry by talking about how Pro 2nd Amendment they are to defend the rights of sporting men and women.  The President even tells us how he goes Skeet Shooting all the time at Camp David when he’s discussing the 2nd Amendment.  If you haven’t read the 2nd Amendment in a while go do so now by clicking HERE.  Gotta love the foresight of those founding fathers…but they sure did talk funny.  Hmm…didn’t mention sporting guns at all did it…that’s BECAUSE THE 2ND AMENDMENT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FIREARMS SPORTS!  What the 18th Century statesmen meant when they used the word ‘militia’ was actually every able bodied man (they were products of their times) from 16 to 60…in other words the citizenry.  Remember that the founders had recently been through a revolution against an oppressive government and lived in significant fear that they would face a foreign invasion again in the future…Remember the War of 1812.  While the threat of an armed citizenry didn’t deter the British in 1812 it did save us from invasion on at least one other occasion if you believe the quotes attributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.  Not to shoot a dead horse, but make sure that your ‘liberal’ friends understand that the 2nd Amendment is about deterring foreign invasion and keeping domestic governments in line…it isn’t about going hunting.

In closing, I’d like to remind you that words matter!  Words matter more than ever when you’re trying to manipulate public opinion.  Stay diligent, don’t fall for the tricks and gently educate the sheeple you know and love until their eyes are open as well.  We must protect ourselves by engaging in the court of public opinion and politics on those issues where our lack of engagement will lead to further erosion of our liberties and ability to be self reliant.

Do you have a Newspeak term you’d like us to highlight on Prepography?  If so, use Submit A Prep Tip to let us know and check out the growing list of Newspeak definitions we’ve assembled at Newspeak, A Modern Political Dictionary.

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3 Responses to “Words Matter – Newspeak in the Modern Age”

  1. MUP says:

    One of my personal favorites is the redefinition of the ‘cut’ as regards to spending. If one is to believe the politicians and many journalists (watch the headlines then read the articles) a spending ‘cut’ not includes a reduction in proposed new spending or planned increased spending. The nice thing about this new definition for the politicians is they get political capital for ‘cutting’ spending but never have to actually deliver…they just increase the projections later.

  2. Melvin says:

    How about the new tendency to call ‘standard capacity magazines’ (the kind intended for the firearm) as ‘high capacity magazines.’

  3. Jorge says:

    Calling an illegal alien an undocumented worker is the same as calling a drug dealer an unlicensed pharmacist…

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