The Political Distortion of Language: A Key Threat to the Evolution of Democracy

By In the Spirit of John Stuart Mill

In the Australian series entitle Rake, the writers take on a wide variety of social, cultural and social issues.

In one episode, Cleaver Greene, the main character and a barrister, who defends those on the wrong end of the justice system, defends a retired English teacher against the charge of terrorism.

It seems the client decided to join the folks invited to a counter-terrorism event hosted by the Home Minister and then decided to challenge the use of language by the Home Secretary.

During his trial, the exchange between the retired teacher and the prosecutor, highlighted his “crime.”

Let’s cut to the chase, Lawrence.

What the hell possessed you to bust into this forum?

Answer: What these so-called important people are doing with words, the way they use language to actually hide what they mean.

It’s a form of corruption.

The writer Don Watson calls them ‘weasel words’, where corporations and governments complicate what they say so much that there is no longer any accountability or integrity.

Once we stop believing in what is being said, once language loses its power to connect us, civilisation is finished.

They have to be stopped!

We must rise up! We’ll have nothing left if we don’t stop them soon! 

It is not just the retired English teacher who gets a multiple year sentence to go to prison for his stance that is under attack here, it is democracy itself.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial board in an editorial published on October 7, 2018 underscored the challenge in their editorial entitled,  “The Political Distortion of Language.”

American political discourse gets worse by the day, a lesson we’ve seen first-hand again this weekend.

The Twitter mob on the political left is claiming that our Saturday editorial headline, “Susan Collins Consents,” was intended as a sly “rape joke.” 

The editorial praised Maine Senator Collins for her thoughtful speech on Friday explaining her support for Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

We said her thorough consideration was an exemplary case of fulfilling the Senate’s “advice and consent” duty under the Constitution. Senators are supposed to offer their advice and then offer or withhold their consent for a presidential nominee.

The editorial mentioned advice and consent no fewer than six times.

Yet for some on the political left the editorial wasn’t about the Senate’s constitutional duty or praising Sen. Collins.

They said we were making fun of rape.

A reporter named Emily Stewart even wrote a story about the headline for Vox, the left-wing website, saying “it seems like a rape joke” and calling it an “apparent double-entendre.” 

Ms. Stewart may be angling for a job at the New York Times alongside Maggie Haberman, a reporter who retweeted something from someone named Rosa Goldensohn that “It’s a play on words, get it? With rape.”

This is the political culture that New York Times reporters like Ms. Haberman marinate in and promote…..

The left-wing mob doesn’t want to credit Senator Collins with making a considered judgment, or our endorsement of her speech as praise for the correct way the Senate should behave in assessing a nominee.

The mob wants to interpret everything through the prism of identity politics and accuse opponents of condoning or laughing at sexual assault.

As George Orwell said of the propagandists of his day, these people want to manipulate language to distort its meaning to make their opponents seem illegitimate…..