Thursday, April 20, 2006
Words without thoughts never to heaven go
Unfortunately, political rhetoric in the blogosphere devolved into – or maybe it started out with – petty bickering, name-calling, and general shenanigans.
This is a plea to all the poli-bloggers out there to refine their rhetoric and return the sacred art of debate to its rightful place. Below please find a list of words and phrases that we must banish (or at least use in a more appropriate manner) from future political discourse if we are to achieve our goal of a tolerant, peaceful community. Please note that variations and synonyms of the words below that are used to similar effect are also to be outlawed.
conservative/liberal/right/left – These words are used too often to dismiss dissidents without paying any heed to their arguments, as in “You’re just a conservative. I don’t have to listen to anything you say.” They do nothing but polarize.
communist/socialist – Similar to the above item. Communism and socialism are rarely associated with their political/economic theories, but rather, they are associated with anti-Americanism and authoritarian governments. Please use caution when deploying these terms.
freedom – Unless this word is followed by a prepositional phrase, such as “of expression,” please do not use it. Many people will use “freedom” in an attempt to elicit an emotional response, as in “terrorists hate our freedom,” to which you should reply, “No they don’t. They hate us because we’re Christians and we support
our children – Sure, there are basic protections we need to have in place for children, but don't invoke their names in the middle of a politcal debate unless you're discussing one of said protections. We don't collectively share all of the world's children, so speak for your own, not everyone else's.
stupid name puns, e.g. dumb-o-crat/rethuglican/etc. – Such puns are not at all clever or humorous. All they will do is make you look hateful and detract from your argument.
fascist – Before you use this word, ask yourself these questions: 1) Is the person I’m about to call a fascist an evil dictator, or does he support an evil dictator? 2) Does the person I’m about to call a fascist espouse oppressive, authoritarian economic and social policies? If the answer to either question is no, do not call the person a fascist.
morals/family values – These words no longer mean anything. Morals and values are entirely relative. Unless you’re offering your personal notions of morality at the same time, don’t use these words.
patriotic/unpatriotic – Also very relative. Ask yourself, does your opponent really hate
nazi/hitler – Just don’t go there.
flip-flopper – Changing one’s mind is acceptable. No need for name-calling.
bushisms – Making fun of G.W. for his linguistic flubs was entertaining for the first few months of his administration, but now it’s just kind of pathetic. Find something better to do with your time.
islamofascist/judeofascist – See “fascist.” Same questions apply here. Can't you just call such people "terrorists" instead of making up strange hybrid words that are vaguely offensive?
religion – You don’t get to make laws based on your religion, so unless religion itself is the topic of discussion, leave it out.
war on terror(ism) – As Mr. David Cross explains, “The war on terrorism is a fucking joke. You cannot win a war on terrorism. It’s like having a war on jealousy … It’s an absurd notion.” In a war on an abstract concept, no one wins.
spelling/grammar – Only assholes point out spelling and grammar mistakes. If you do this during a debate, you automatically lose.
illegal – Calling illegal immigrants “illegals” is a great example of bending the English language in ways it shouldn’t be bent. Please don’t change parts of speech. Respect the words, and they'll respect you back.
baby killer – Yikes! Just say you believe that life begins at conception. Don't turn people off with such angry words.
gay agenda – If you’re using this phrase to describe the LGBT population’s quest for equal rights and tolerance, go ahead and use it. Otherwise, no.
gun nut – The Second Amendment’s biggest champions are also the most responsible gun owners. Don’t call them names.
weasel words – FOX News loves these! Using phrases like “some people say…” and “it’s been said that…” is a good way to distance yourself from some crazy assertion when your actual goal is to make that very assertion. Please don’t do this.
bush bashing – If you want to criticize Bush’s policies, fine, but do it calmly and rationally. We already have one Michael Moore, and we don’t need another one.
loony/wingnut – Calling people who disagree with you crazy will only make you look ignorant. Don’t do it.
anti-choice/pro-death/anti-life – We agreed on the terms pro-choice and pro-life decades ago. Stick to those.
indoctrination – Calling institutions – particularly colleges and universities – indoctrination centers is the same as saying that all students are ignorant morons who can’t think for themselves. College students are actually very smart and independent, and they’re quite capable of making their own decisions. Give them some credit. (Aside: I spent four years at what is considered one of the most liberal universities in the world, and I never once encountered a professor who used the classroom to preach. It doesn’t happen as often as David Horowitz would like you to think it does.) The whole idea of indoctrination speaks very poorly of the human race. We're not idiots.
cable news hosts – What hath Ted wrought? Cable news is all show and no substance. The hosts of the supposed debate shows are all full of shit, and their discussions amount to pissing contests. If you watch them for entertainment (kind of like you'd watch pro wrestling), fine, but don't put any stock into what they say. Again, they're all full of shit. Especially O’Reilly, Geraldo, and Matthews. But especially all the rest of them, too. Don’t listen to them, and for chrissakes please don’t quote them or try to pass off their rants as valid arguments.
That’s it for me! Please feel free to add to this list.