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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Goldstein On Language

Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom has been developing a bit of a theme that boils down to the seemingly simple concept: Language matters. The concept is so simple, methinks, that we tend to not notice when someone (or some group) hijacks the very words we use to express our thoughts (paging Mr. Orwell). Here's a bit of his latest post on the subject:

As regular readers of this site know, I’m of the mind that the battle for liberty—indeed, the battle for classical liberalism itself -- is being lost structurally, and that our linguistic assumptions, which have moved away priviliging the utterer (and so has moved away from intent and animating agency), have much to do with the errant thinking behind both our policy decisions and the philosophical notions that animate contemporary politics, and so set the stage for the soft totalitarianism of speech codes, thought crimes, proportional representation statutes, and other manifestations of pernicious identity politics disguised in the ameliorative language of “diversity” and “tolerance.”
Complex language, but it basically boils down to what I stated above: Language matters. The reason I'm posting on this topic (aside from thinking that it's important) is that I find myself bowing to just the pressures he identifies. I write, and say, things like: ...that's not to say that all ___ are ___... and ...not that there's anything wrong with that... and ...not to be mean, but....

Such phrases are an attempt to avoid offending someone who might take my words to mean something other than what I intended. I think Jeff's onto something in the sense that the onus is now on the speaker to not accidentally offend the listener, as opposed to (the way it used to be(?)) the latter giving the former the benefit of the doubt and endeavoring to understand the actual intent behind some seemingly-offensive remark.

So, I am going to do my best to get away from those sort of qualifying remarks. If I believe/think something, I'm going to just state it as best I can. If someone gets offended, we can discuss it, but I'm not going to take preemptive action to avoid such confrontations.

Secondly, I am going to address the other half of (what I see as) the problem. That other half is the co-opting of certain historical/social events/things by specific groups. Jeff points to Jews claiming to 'own' the Holocaust, blacks claiming to 'own' slavery, etc. Another good example is the Chickenhawk label. (Usually) Liberals will attack a hawkish Conservative for supporting the war without fighting it in person. Guess, what? I can have an opinion about something without being personally involved in it. Whether it's the Holocaust, slavery or war, the very fact that I am a sentient being endows me with the right to have an opinion on anything I like. You may dismiss it, but you will absolutely not stop me from expressing it in an appropriate forum.

There, I've said my piece. What thinks you?


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