Archive for January, 2003

>What Are We Doing Here?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003

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The English language today is being polluted almost beyond recognition from what it was in the middle of the 20th Century. In fact, as the 21st Century moves through its early years, American English is undergoing an Orwellian catastrophe.

Every day the spinmeisters of government, business, academia, science, law and medicine deliberately befog our language with artful — and not so artful –spinspeak.

This is no minor threat. This is the continuing deployment of a cultural weapon of mass destruction.

Spinspeak is designed to hoodwink; to make the lesser seem better; to make the better seem lesser; to change the subject; to sugarcoat lies, theft and serial betrayals; to excuse outrageous immoral. unethical and criminal behavior.

Moreover, spinspeak is highly infectious. Once it comes into common use it destroys rational thought. Facts drown and disappear under waves of repetitive buncombe.

Strong light, exposure, is a major antidote. But, as polluted words and phrases are exposed, many of them metastasize into new, more virulent forms. Fighting spinspeak is not a one-shot effort.

The history of spinspeak is long. Chinese scholars and Greek sophists were early perpetrators. King’s ministers specialized in it. Communists and Fascists choked the world with it. Certainly, American advertising and public relations made made it a science in the 20th Century.

In only the last 25 years spinspeak has come into a Golden Age. An enormous impetus came from the wave of political correctness that has inundated America: the evolving vocabulary of people who live in minute- to- minute fear of offending anyone (except people they hate); the language of an increasingly permissive society that prefers never to call an unpleasant fact a fact. And students of spin will generally agree that no one has done more in recent years to advance spinspeak than President Clinton and his verbally ingenious followers who have developed an ever expanding lexicon of words and phrases that put lipstick on pigs everywhere.

Words are the coin of reason. Today that coin is being debased by spinspeak: the favored language of mountebanks, sharpsters, losers and appeasers. It must be stopped. The reason we save will be our own.