Please update your Newspeak Dictionary

You will find the following quotes in the "About this Blog" tab:

Dialogue, as we are choosing to use the word, is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization. In our modern culture men and women are able to interact with one another in many ways: they can sing dance or play together with little difficulty but their ability to talk together about subjects that matter deeply to them seems invariable to lead to dispute, division and often to violence. In our view this condition points to a deep and pervasive defect in the process of human thought. (Bohm, Factor and Garrett 1991)

"If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed"
Paulo Freire

People are hell bent on shutting down dialogue. Certain words have become so politicised that you are no longer able to say them. As a concession, you are only able to say them if you belong to the particluar sub-culture to which they refer. For example, there used to be a blog called "Suspect Paki". It was run by a Muslim. There is also a blog called "Trauma Queen" that is run by a gay para-medic.

These people have been party to a language hi-jack. They tell us that they can use a certain word, but I cannot. Thus, the basis of dialogue is slewed in favour of those who have more words at their disposal than me. There is somthing hostile about the way in which communities insist on having a language of their own. The two examples above are actually not very good, but they point to the primary problem, which is one of etymological  hegemony.

Abortion has recently gotten the same treatment. A Californian Congresswoman, writing in the Huffington Post, has declared that

Abortion is is a word employed by intolerant people to cast shame on women who choose it.

This statement fields no alternatives, or even a rationale, it is merely accompanied by a sob story. This is not surprising because all arguments emanating from the Politically Correct are cleverly designed to bypass rationality and go straight to emotion. The liberal elite have no real philosophy to deliver, merely rant and rhetoric and because their arguments are so weak they rely on shutting down debate.

The aim of the Newspeak Dictionary in Orwell's book is clear, as told by Orwell himself:
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc -- should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression  to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.

So what I am saying is that whilst this hi-jacking of language may be justifiable on certain limited grounds, it does nothing to further dialogue.

We must be careful; people use terms that are dangerous and so cliched that they will only be taken in subliminally. I notice that Brian, in his post below, slips in one or two. His use of the term "religious nutter societies" offends not only me, but they will be something of a blow to the many religiously based organisations who have fought to make our society a better one.

Not all religious people are nutters. The "nutters" pushed for the abolition of slavery. The "nutters" have huge medical missions overseas who deal with anything from cataract operations to HIV/AIDS. The "nutters" refused to fight and instead volunteered for dangerous non-combatant duties during WW1 and WW2. The "nutters" are behind organisations like the Salvation Army, who provide, among other things, help to street prostitutes.

So, please don't tolerate etymological terrorism. Please do not slip in cliches that are not only offensive but actually highly inflammatory and hate-inspiring. If you tolerate this, one day, you will not only not notice what's going on, you will no longer have the words to express it.


Brian said...

My first direct experience of "nutters" was at university when a pair of evangelists knocked on my door in hall and told me that my physical disability was the result of my parents' sins but that they would pray for me (nice of them).
My second was at work when a colleagues,an evangelical christian, refused to work alongside me after I had an epileptic seizure because he believed I was possessed by the devil. That was accepted as reasonable by my fundamentalist muslim line manager.
As all three were members of offficially recognised organisations, the Christian Union and an independent church, I chose my words carefully. I would not be happy if people with those views obtained public money to perform public services. Certainly not without an alternative service provider available.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

You did not get my point, Brian. nutters exist everywhere, and religion attracts more than its fair share.

However, we, that is people who have religious views, are not all nutters, anymore than people who vote Liberal Democrat are.

You have had some fairly scary encounters with nutters, but you also appear to be religiophobic, which is as bad in my book as any other ism or phobia because it is a mechanism for scapegoating.

Brian said...

And isn't accusing someone of an ism or a phobia scapegoating as well? Weren't the survivors who spoke out against sexual abuse by a minority of priests scapegoated as being anti-Church until the facts were overwhelming?
For your information, I've read the books and discussed the ideas contained in them with many believers who also happen to be my friends. I'm just too sceptical about things in general to believe. It would be easy for me to adopt the outward trappings of a religious faith, indeed the social work aspect of a vicar's job is very attractive, but for me that would be as fraudulent as wearing someone else's overcoat. I can do no other, as Martin Luther may not have said.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

What you are doing, Brian, is writing off billions of people in the world who assert some kind of religious faith, by citing examples that are not only emotive, but totally irrelevant.

By all means be an atheist, that is your prerogative, but attempting to build your case using examples that have no bearing on the universal concept of spirituality is specious.

You cite abusive priests. This has nothing to do with the pursuit of personal spirituality, a concept that you have written off as being for "nutters".

The majority of people believe in some kind of higher authority. You can argue it on a case by case basis and you can also argue it from a philosophical viewpoint or even as a study of perception and reality, but to right off a philosophical point of view, held by quite a lot of people, as "nutters", is crass.

Let us draw a line under this and agree to differ, for I do not feel that there is anything more to be said, unless you want to provide a catalogue of abuse and destruction done in the name of religion, which even I agree would be fairly long.