Monday, August 10, 2015

Bill Maher Skewers PC "Language Guide" - But There's More To It

Bill Maher, on Real Time Friday night, merits kudos for exposing a "bias free" language guide issued by the University of New Hampshire - ostensibly to entice students to take more care in their use of language - and strive for 'neutrality'. In fact, it has all the elements of political correctness,  directed more at hiding what things are (i.e.. reality) than clarifying.

Some of the examples Maher exposed:

Senior citizens is now replaced by "people of advanced age".

Sorry, but I will opt for senior citizens over that "advanced age" crap.

Poverty-stricken is now replaced by "experiencing poverty"

As Maher put it: "What the hell is the difference?"

Well, Bill, the bias-free bunch want the experiential emphasis to get us to accept poverty can be a temporary condition and hence only "experienced" for a time. This ignores the fact that for a distinct segment of society poverty does remain entrenched and there are no glorious ladders up and out of it.

Rich, is now replaced by "person of material wealth"

ROTFL! The aim here is clear: to remove what has become a derogatory (like "liberal" - converted to "progressive") and make it appear more resource neutral. Sorry, like Bill I ain't biting!

Obese, is now replaced by "people of size"

Are you kidding me? As Bill observed, "obese was the nice word". People of size? You mean like those forlorn folks shown on assorted Discovery specials with titles like "I once weighed 1,000 pounds" who have to be removed by fork lifts and trucks to be taken to hospital?

Point is "size" can mean any size, while obese simply means exceeding a specific threshold (30) defined by the BMI.

Tomboy is now replaced by "gender non-conforming"

Foreigner is now "international person"

Huh?  As Bill put it, "if this stuff didn't exist Rush Limbaugh would have to make it up - and he's already gotten fat and rich off 'liberal'."

While these examples provoke humor - and often some outrage- we must be mindful also of how language has been altered to achieve manipulation of minds, not just bias elimination.

The objective has been clear since the era of PR originator Edward Bernays, who wrote:. 'Crystallizing Public Opinion'. As the title implies, the basic goal was to drumbeat the maximum number of 'the masses' into a homogeneous and consistent consent. But do it without their awareness. Careful use of language was the means to do this, including subtly altering the usual meaning of words.

Five years later came Bernays' definitive work 'Propaganda' - embodying those principles  which were later adopted wholesale by Josef Goebbels and Leni Reifenstahl. It was in this book that the master betrayed his intents - if ever there was any doubt before:

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country."

This is why one must always be aware of language use, given how it molds thought.  Not surprisingly the modern use of language alteration has also seeped in, again to try to bend minds toward acceptance. Some examples include:

"enhanced interrogation" for torture

"rendition" to remove someone to a hidden site for purposes of "enhanced interrogation"

"Collateral damage" - deaths caused to civilians when bombings or attacks are indiscriminately launched

And the classic:

"war on terror" - when one cannot make war on a mode or strategy. One makes war on a nation state.

Other examples of the uses of euphemism are well known - mostly employed by Republicans and conservatives for the purpose of mind-fucking, such as "DEATH taxes" for "estate taxes".

Also "entitlements" for Social Security and Medicare, when people have to actually pay in for the former (out of each paycheck) and have to pay nearly $250,000 over a lifetime for what Medicare doesn't cover, including dental care.

Then there is the more recent  use of"scandal" to replace "conspiracy". Thus, we are now supposed to accept "the Watergate scandal" as opposed to Watergate conspiracy, and the "Iran-Contra scandal" as opposed to Iran-Contra conspiracy. The effort here clearly to expunge the concept of political conspiracy from public consciousness.

Language alteration has even emerged in psychiatry - via the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) - clearly in an effort to "medicalize" normal conditions thereby expanding the need for treatments and raising costs which our health care system can ill afford.  As Edward Shorter, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto,  put it ('Why Psychiatry Needs Therapy', WSJ, Feb. 27-28, 2010, p. W3):

"DSM-V accelerates the trend of making variants on the spectrum of everyday behavior into diseases: turning grief into depression, apprehension into anxiety and boyishness into hyperactivity"

Some examples:

Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysphoria (a new definition for all children with outbursts of temper, i.e. any brat or rug rat pitching a temper tantrum)

"Intermittent explosive disorder" for episodic outbursts of extreme anger - like after your boss just fires you and says there'll be no severance pay and you have medical bills adding up

Minor Neuro-cognitive Disorder (Betrayed by any evidence of even mild cognitive decline from a previous level of performance.) Good luck to all those over 50 for whom this is expected!

Psychosis risk syndrome. the extension of paranoid schizophrenia to many more in the general population. Do you follow 'Info wars'? Then you likely have it.

Sex addiction is also under consideration for inclusion in the mental disorders, and these will be called "hyper-sexual disorder".

The more people are aware of language changes going on around them,  the more they will realize not all are benign or simply humorous - like the "bias free language-free guide".  Some are malicious or even malevolent, with the objective to fuck up your thought processes and get you to accept abominations like torture you otherwise wouldn't. Or reject needed revenue (estate taxes from the wealthy) because it's called "death taxes" and god knows you hate to tax anyone for their death!

No comments: