When you think about Orwell’s 1984, it’s easy to go right to the heavy-handed intrusive measures. Things like Big Brother, the secret police, and midnight arrests make it easy to draw comparisons to today’s IRS and NSA abuses that would have made Nixon blush. Or the arrest of that guy responsible for the video that “caused” Benghazi. Or maybe the swelling pseudo-police powers of various non-policing entities now carrying firearms.
But these were not the only threats Orwell saw to citizen freedoms, were they?
A far more subtle, and in a sense, dangerous threat to those freedoms, Orwell called Newspeak. In his own words:
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. 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.
In his book, acceptable boundaries of thought were enforced by shaping — co-opting — language. We see this today. Just ask Paula Deen why the word that cost her dearly in her career is ubiquitous in some music genres. What gives anyone the right to sanitize our speech by force?
How else does a Christian Restauranteur’s private opinion about marriage become a national headline? What about Duck Dynasty? Runaway hit show threatened because one guy said something controversial in an interview? I don’t remember that reaction in ‘08 when Obama said he was “not in favor of gay marriage”.
Instead of using words constructively, to engage conversation, or hammer out differences of ideas, activists and political hacks are short-circuiting political process. If someone dares say something controversial, two things are considered. First, “Who said it?”, and second, “What it is said about?”
For example, the word that brought Paula Deen to court was also used by Madonna. Difference? Madonna is committed to the same values as the P-C police. Likely, it will cost her nothing.
They play the same game with sexuality. Gay is a relatively new term. It replaced other more vulgar, or more accurate words. Notice they chose an innocuous word synonymous with happy? People later manufactured the word “homophobe” to bludgeon the noncompliant into submitting to the new orthodoxy. This, too, is selectively enforced.
Where are the complaints about their treatment in places like Iran, where homosexuals are publicly executed under Islam? Yet somehow Christians are scapegoats to be reviled for their commitment to traditional marriage. Do they think only Christians held this view, rather than practically every cultural group in the world (other than our aggressive strain of secularism)?
Maybe I missed it, but around the time Phil Robertson called homosexuality “a sin,” Louis Farrakhan spoke of the Islamic teaching that homosexuals be beheaded or stoned. Where, exactly, was that outrage? Has a reference to violent death from the religion so often in the news for violence less newsworthy than Phil’s private opinion?
Well, that would overlook one little fact: they aren’t interested in debate, or justice, but naked power. Like good little thought police, they’re trying to bully people into obedience. For now, the Islamophobe card seems enough to protect them from charges of “homophobia.”
What can we learn from this? We can be conscious of their tactics, and use deliberate word choice to frame our own position. For example, they use ”pro-choice” rather than ”pro-abortion”, it’s more “friendly” even if the latter is more accurate. “Progressive” is used to imply progress, and “forward” (another word often used). If you use their language, you are already fighting the battle on their turf. Worse, you may be using terminology they use to stereotype you.
Frame your ideas in the context of what you are for, not against. It lets you define yourself on your own terms.
Don’t be afraid to take the gloves off. If they’re going to invent accusations against you, try to “Judo” that energy back at your attacker. If they call you racist, be ready to show why they are, and you are not. If they call you a hater, make them prove it. Show them up as cowards, flinging accusations because they have no actual arguments.
Remember how Orwell’s novel had a “Ministry of Truth” that was actually a State-run Propaganda House?
Part of the fight, is to call things what they really are. Barbara Walters — alleged journalist of no small reputation — said the following: “We thought he was going to be … the next messiah”.
That’s not objective reporting, that’s the language of religious devotion and Personality Cult. I fail to see how that is meaningfully different from the adulation given a little Austrian with a funny mustache so many years ago.
Above all, when you are dealing with someone that no longer feels the sting of conscience (as any group that rejects the Ten Commandments must be), use ridicule! Tweak the ego!
Since images and sound bites have become more important than ideas and substance, this can be devastating to those me-monkeys.
Image: Courtesy of: http://annasenglishstuff.wikispaces.com/I+can%27t+speak+ English