Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Words have meaning even if they aren't true
People just say stuff.
Such as “How are you?” when they couldn’t care less how you are. And “I’m fine” when they’re not. It’s expected, the grease that society slides forward on. Hardly worth noting.
When it comes to politics, however, this just-say-stuff habit is more worrisome. Then the grease can send our nation skidding off of a cliff of toxic nonsense and paranoid fantasy. Politicians make promises that they can’t possibly deliver. They air claims that can’t possibly be true, that directly conflict what they just said a day or two ago. And their followers, well, follow, saying things they neither mean nor think about.
Such as? Abortion. “Abortion is murder,” the anti-abortion crowd claims. You hear it all the time. First, that’s incorrect. Since murder is a legal term, and abortion is legal and thus it is by definition not murder. What they mean is “Abortion should be murder.” Except they don’t mean that either, as you can demonstrate by replying, “Oh really? If it’s murder, then for how long should the murderers go to jail?” And the answer is “umm.” We can translate that grunt as “OK ‘abortion is murder,’ is just something we say because it sounds powerful and more compact than, ‘I want to force my religion on you while dragging gender roles back to the 1950s.'” Admittedly quite a mouthful.
Donald Trump is a master of saying stuff. A mighty river of words flows out of his waggling lips, vague promises and idle threats and broad accusations. They sound dynamic, and his fans lap it up. Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. Bar Muslims from entering the country. Deport 11 million illegal residents. The election is rigged. The media are corrupt.
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