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‘TORTURE’, ETC: Fighting For Language Meaning

The tragedy of language is its power. The glory of language is its power. We are its servants or masters. Choose one.

It’s a common saying that the Left owns the language. In my view, it’s not that they have exclusive rights to it but rather they butcher the true meaning of words into unrecognizable but palatable chunks, and toss them to a willing crowd, including the media. This has to stop.

Communication requires any message to have a sender and receiver. If one of those doesn’t exist, no communication exists. For example, multiple groups on the Left say the act of intentionally killing an innocent baby is “choice” and “reproductive health” while omitting any utterance of the murder of an innocent baby. The same can be said for the Obama Administration deeming terrorist acts occurring on foreign soil as “overseas contingent operations,” and the attack at Fort Hood as “workplace violence.”

While we don’t accept the premise of abortion or that terrorism shouldn’t be called anything but what it is, many on our side skip over the choice of language and get to the core of the argument. We have, unwittingly, accepted their message. For too long, this method has worked.

If you don’t think a crowd can easily be swayed using language, recall in 1995 during the OJ trial. Referring to the bloody glove, Johnnie Cochran repeatedly chanted that utterly stupid but effective line “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Multiple facts about the case of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were much more important to the case than the glove, but that was the phrase seared into the jury’s mind. I almost felt sorry for the prosecution.

A fresh example in the language battle occurred early this week when, on Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) and other Democrats released a delayed report detailing the techniques used by the CIA and other intelligence agencies to get information from our enemies. The Left, their down-with-America guns at the ready, accused the US of committing heinous acts of “torture.”

Stop there. What if, before any back and forth gets going, we don’t accept their choice of words?

On one hand we have monsters — almost exclusively Muslim fundamentalists — who torture non-Muslims or anyone they deem the wrong kind of Muslims. This is real torture, and we have but to spend a little time on the Web to behold the horror of what so many innocents have endured — breaking or burning limbs, electric shocks, pulling off fingernails or toenails, beheading, hanging, etc. They do this because they believe their god and prophet tell them to.

On the other hand we have personnel from our military or intelligence community who capture an enemy and, as part of a complex set of both psychological and physical procedures known to be effective at gleaning valuable information, may have to resort to unpleasant but not life or limb-threatening acts. They do this to aid in the capture of more valuable targets and keep ourselves, our allies, and — novel concept — a native population safe. Are these techniques unpleasant? Only a fool would say no. Are they painful? Probably.

What we do to enemies is not torture, and I plead with all conservatives and Republicans (damn you, GOP, for forcing me into that distinction) to stop Leftists in their tracks before the debate goes further, whether in this debate or any other. Take back the language, stop to clarify words, and put proper meaning where it belongs.

Put another way, as Rush Limbaugh said this week, is it torture to have to decide between ending your life by burning at 700-800 degrees Fahrenheit or jumping from the 97th floor of a building, pleading with God to take you before you hit the pavement? Is it torture to be a family member or friend of someone who had to make that decision? Or is it torture to be sleep deprived, wear adult diapers, and have Metallica blasted in your cell?

The lesson about the power of language is this: Be aware. If we know we’re being played, we are no longer being played.



Michael Cummings

Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.

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