It always intrigues me the way words change parts of speech. Nothing has been more successful for PoserNation than redefining words. What you don’t understand you can make mean anything. What you do understand and fear, you can redefine and sell. It’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance technique. That’s a little vague. Let me narrow the scope of the intrigue.
By intrigue I mean it makes me crunch up my nose like a bad Sean Penn impression. I was recently told by the Libertarianesse (formerly curly-blond-haired-woman-with-whom-I-live) that a colleague of hers suggested that she inbox her with some info. Inbox her? I cringed. Was that a come-on? I though something smelled in the room, and it turns out it was the use of that word. I’d prefer if it were a come-on. I tried to substitute “Message” but that is even stinky. I can send a message but I really can’t message someone.Technically I cannot “text” someone either. Those are nouns, any way you shake it. As a result of someone’s apparent amateur harassment, she tells me there is a now “Mandatory Harassment Training” at her work. Can’t wait to get the results from her training. Reality tends to redefine words more than words redefine reality. Enter value judgement here. This is a great TED talk to illustrate one important way reality has changed a word. Here is an example of that degradation being sanctioned
I have reeled at the way my students have been using the word “epic”. Some have even tried to form the word epicosity. What the fuck? I explain in less profane ways that epic can not-by its definition (which may be changing…)- be a singularity. It’s more, much more than just vigilant grammarian-ism. It represents a culture where anything you want you can just make out of thin air. If you need to relegate something to your own purposes, feel free. Completely change meaning of words and attempt to adjust reality as you see fit. There are no absolutes and no rules which apply to you anymore. I cannot by the very nature of the word express myself thoroughly so I choose to use the words I do know in the wrong way. More heinous is the more common. I will purposefully redefine a word in order to change everything associated with it, and thereby redefine myself, for political motives.
Under that heading goes most of what I will discuss. A few years ago I saw a bumper sticker which read : HATE is not a family value. This sticker had a purpose. The driver of the mini-van certainly had an intention. It literally meant nothing to me. Hate has been redefined, as has family values, especially in this context and sociopolitical climate. What the bumper sticker said to me, as I believe it was intended, was: Your intolerance and refusal to entitle my way of life is not the perceived right-wing version of wholesomeness and homogeneity. Hell, we could argue what the meaning of is is– a la William Jefferson Clinton.
Sometime in the early 90’s, VP Danforth Quayle, former Hoosier state Senato(R), told the nation that a television character having a baby out of wedlock was not “Family Values.” This term caught on like the sitcom with Candice Bergen finally did, thanks to the controversy. By the way, Murphy Brown was about an ex-hippie liberal middle age columnist who always bucked the system -cliche- and pissed off politicians and anyone else who dared disagree, unless they were liberal too. Far-fetched, I know. Family Values then became a catch phrase. People used it to describe the Cleaver-esque family, and to simultaneously mock them. Some popular hardcore rock acts began touring under the monicker. The term was used to create a divide between the haves and have-nots ( a division that Conservative Hippyism shuns). It was used in political debates, one candidate would claim the other had none, while skirting describing real guidelines for having any. Mostly it became a punch-line.
It was around the same time that hate-crimes and hate-speech laws were becoming popular as well. Conservative Hippyism also decries these notions. Are there any crimes done out of love? Argue the point. Crimes are committed against someone or something, not for them. I love my cat so much I killed a dog? The dog received the action, so no. The crime was not committed out of love. Can we truly be a peaceful and prosperous nation, and world if only the speech we deem non-hateful is allowed. What do I do if I really want to say something demoralizing to someone? My expressed thoughts are now illegal? As the recipient of those thoughts and words I must first sanction the injury before it has any power. Let’s not pretend there isn’t a double standard when it comes to this category anyway. SO HATE was outlawed sometime in the 90’s. It was a nice gesture. Controlling human emotion (which is what hate is, so is HOPE, by the way) by rule of law is not what Conservative Hippyism calls liberty and freedom, or honesty. God, let those who love us, love us. Let those who hate us, have their heart turned. If you can’t turn their hearts, turn their ankles, so we’ll know them by their limping.
HATE was redefined by the courts as an action motivated purely by racial, religious or gender-specific prejudices. Or something. Where the Conservative Hippy has a problem, is at the point where a crime against one type of person becomes more heinous than a crime against another. Read that again. A crime committed against a certain race, is more of a crime than one committed against another. Sounds more like Jackson, MS in the 50’s or Birmingham, AL in the 60’s? It also sounds a little like Salem, MA in the 1600’s. When do we value one human’s life, and safety more than another’s? in a country which is truly about peace and prosperity via the basic tenets of individual-individual, not racial, gender specific or some caste system, individual– liberties, we don’t. Why does a black man’s death only have value when it is taken by a white man? Ask Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. AL Sharpton where they were when the hundreds of other African-American youths died in Florida? A classic example of how hate-laws further demoralize, only legitimizing the killing, not the life taken.
So hate kept getting merged with lighter and lighter ideas. Some even use it to mean a difference of opinion. Some call cutting off entitlements, hate. Most just use it the way the same way they use the term racist: as a way to stop anyone who fears being labeled as such, from expressing their differing opinion or pursuing their interests in conflict. What love. I heard that people who don’t want to buy other people’s recreational drugs and non-essential medicines, as hate. Do I hate a sick alcoholic because I won’t cosign his bullshit and let him drink after he’s asked me for help getting sober? Do I hate a woman I don’t know because I will neither pay for her contraception nor her abortion? Pick a story, first of all. I may not love her, but indifference and priority might be the better qualification for that. Her needs are not on my list.
The (r)e-DEAF-ini-SHUN of Hate and Family Values was just the beginning. What the Libertarianesse and I were discussing the other day had more to do with the notions of conservative and liberal. I remember as far back as 2000 when my Aunt, godmother actually, told me that I needed to be liberal about things because liberal meant open-minded. I knew that was garbage. The word originated to describe the scope, powers, and influence of government. The same goes for its counterpart: conservative. Conservative has been redefined as closed-minded, and puritanical, while liberal has been redefined as completely tolerant , allowing for anything and free. That is rarely the case. Never has more censorship and persecution occurred than under the regimes of liberated governments. Never. Ask Tipper Gore how she felt about free speech.
As far as open-minded? Sure, as long as you agree, or your called a hater, greedy, or racist. Those redefinition are the exact opposites of the truth. They apply to their notions of government and therefore contradict the connotations. A liberal government, which has no restraints will disallow anything it sees as a threat. It is therefore necessary to use other redefined words, such as racism and hate, to appeal to the lowest common denominators, reclassify them as victims of this slanted terminology, and draft them into their army of entitlement. Entitlement being the emotional response to perceived, or actual, victimization. A government conserved, is one which cannot be wasteful. A government conserved can not create laws which allow one person (regardless of race, creed, origin, gender) to supersede another. It’s only use of force and violence exists to respond to violence, not threaten it for its own interests. A conserved government only uses its courts to enforce civil contracts, not create them. A liberal government is decidedly closed-minded. It allows only for the points of view which keep it empowered, namely the dependence of the people. A dependent people is not empowered. Hence the Declaration of Independence.
Candidates, these days, running as mainstream conservatives, are decidedly liberal. Again, not because they deem all things acceptable, since government has no right to judge the populace anyway. They are decidedly liberal by the classic definition: Expanding the role of government to invade private sector business, absorb the profit they have not earned by rule of law at best, and threat of violent force or kidnapping and incarceration at worst. They are liberal when they enact wide-scope laws and far-reaching regulations that tell self-defined groups of non-felon Americans they cannot participate in freedoms, which the government has no right to claim they provide in the first place. A truly conservative government conserves its power and minds its business-which is not the comings and goings, and personal and familiar contracts of the electorate. If those personal, professional, and familiar contracts are violated. A conservative government enforces the contract, only when sought by the grievance party and only to the extent that the contract describes retribution, agreed to by all interested parties. Conservative government. A liberal government decides which laws are broken- having first decided what constututes morality while rarely applying the standard to itself, by whom and how the violators will be punished according to a general (liberal) standard. Why should the morals and rules deemed necessary by a tribe of Americans in the Great Plains or Great Lakes apply to us in the palmetto brush of Central Florida, unless the government and it’s laws are to liberal to far-reaching and influential.
Conservatism runs as liberalism. Liberalism responds by becoming more liberal. Conservatism responds in turn. This is what happens when only two parties sit at the card table. I’m not sure if it’s Contract Bridge, War, or just friggin SlapJack. Eventually one player runs out of cards and the other redefines the terms, neither decides to read the rules according to HOYLE. Loose metaphor? Why? I can’t redefine terms as I see fit to make my point? Public service has been redefined as leadership. Socialism has been redefined as democracy. Self preservation has been redefined as greed. One car, two televisions and an iPhone has been redefined as poor. Middle class has been redefined as poverty. Upper middle class has been redefined as wealthy. Hunger has been redefined as starvation. Without has been redefined as entitled. Conservatism redefined itself as puritanism (who by the way came to the new world in order to find freedom from a tyrannical king hell-bent on persecuting religion and political dissidents, so that term is even misused). Liberalism has been redefined as compassion. Compassion is now anything that you can relegate to your uses and allow by law, not through any recognition of human rights outside the scope of law. Good luck with that one.
The word progressive is interesting too, since it has little to do with actual social progress, more to do with the government making power progress in your daily life. People who claim to vote democratic amuse me. They vote (D)emocrat. One may vote democratically. One may not vote democratic. It is an adjective, not and adverb. It is not an accidental misuse. It suggests that those who do not vote Democrat, are not voting for democracy. Cute, at best. Extremely effective at worst. (R)epublican uses that term as loosely, reminding everybody that our federalist system is technically republican. Our system of statehood having sovereignty over the presidency is republican. Our system of representative government is republican. None of it is Republican. The words now mean something different and (R)epublicans don’t adhere to them anymore than the (D)emocrat voters do.
Chuck Pahluniak tought me that the reason we think Earth is Hell is the unrealistic notion that it should be Heaven. It’s not, it’s Earth. He also said that What you don’t understand you can make mean anything. The first rule of Fight Club is…(okay maybe that one doesn’t apply). I digress.
Please argue against, or for these points. Then listen to this essay from 1934, and pretend it doesn’t apply today.
Please suggest more (r)e-DEAF-ini-SHUNS. I could go on every day.