In politics, language is critical to winning the message and the battle. Yesterday, in reading this piece at The Daily Beast that called the Center for Medical Progress a “self-described ‘citizen journalist’ project” — isn’t every group “self-described?” — I was again reminded of language bias, both intentional and unintentional.
Too often, conservatives find ourselves a) fighting an uphill battle against the media on the meanings of words, and b) co-opted by the way the media and culture define, redefine, and redefine again the meanings of words.
Nobody is perfect with this battle. We have to influence the rest of our culture — but is it okay to compromise language in order to draw people in?
For example, I frequently use the terms “gay ‘marriage'” and “pro-abortion” when writing for Hot Air and LifeSiteNews. However, when I aim for mainstream outlets, I often remove the quotation marks around “marriage,” and use the term “pro-choice” to describe those who think it is acceptable to slaughter the unborn.
On the one hand, I am capitulating to the media’s paradigm. On the other hand, I am hoping that the rest of my message will pull people out of that paradigm.
Anyway. For a fun Friday night piece (seriously? fun? I need a life), please enjoy my non-exhaustive list of words and phrases that are used inappropriately or inaccurately in politics, contrasted with what they actually mean. Add your own in the comments, and if I get one wrong — I am looking forward to reactions about my criticism of the word “patriotism” — please feel free to correct me.
Philosophical = Using evidence and experience to create a well-thought out opinion on a matter of policy, culture, etc. = Whatever I believe
Ideological = Stubbornly sticking to a viewpoint, regardless of the facts = Whatever people who disagree with me believe
Abortion rights = Implying that people can have a right to kill innocents
Reproductive health = See “Abortion rights”
Gay marriage = A falsehood that attempts to equate an emotional sexual relationship between people of the same sex with the unitive, procreative, God-created, lifelong union of two people of the opposite sex.
Compromise = Demanding that conservatives cave on beliefs
Government shutdown = Small, non-critical portions of the federal government have temporarily lost funding
Save Social Security = Ignoring mathematical realities, and subsequent policy changes, that would actually save Social Security
Gay sex = sodomy which does not equal sexual intercourse
Pro-choice = not giving babies a choice
Anti-choice = giving babies a choice
Free (via government) = Stuff other people will pay for, or that you’ll pay for in a way you may not realize
Slashing the budget = Preventing government spending from rising as quickly as the CBO projects
Balanced Budget Amendment = A pipe dream that politicians take advantage of to avoid real decisions on the budget
10-year balanced budget = A way for today’s politicians to put off tough decisions until tomorrow
War on Women = What the abortion industry does every day
Undocumented immigrant = People who break the law to remain in America
Patriotism = Whatever I’m doing is great for the country!
Anti-American = Whatever people who disagree with me are doing
Catholics believe = A survey of people who say they’re Catholic, even if they violate every doctrine of the Church
Reasonable = Liberal Republicans
Extreme = People who were previously described as “Reasonable,” until they won their primary and are facing a Democrat for office.
Note: Thanks to American Thinker Deputy Editor Drew Belsky, a friend and co-worker at LifeSiteNews who is the paradigm of accurate use of language, for helping me with this list.