The power of dishonest words to change our capacity for reason and moral action

By Dave Andrusko

John Waters

As we begin the new year, I’d like to revisit a post that was originally stirred into existence by the headline of a piece that ran in the Irish Times.

It read, “Words can change our capacity for reason,” and it was written by John Waters who at the time was a prominent columnist.

What set Waters’ teeth a-grinding does not directly involve our issues, the point he is making about how mindlessly recycled words can impair our capacity to think ethically and morally is directly on point. Consider these three snippets:

#1. “Enthusiastically repeated by reporters and commentators, these phrases are capable of changing our capacity for reason and moral action.”

#2. “One remarked capacity of these phrases is that of usurping the everyday meanings of commonplace words.”

#3. “Lately, a new dimension has entered in…which brings a subtle element of affection.”

Think for a moment of all the deadly euphemisms which have insinuated themselves into our vocabulary. Think of how they have a common denominator: to drain unconscionable acts of their moral character, to say up is down, bad is good, dark is light.

For example, why should anyone be upset if “products of conception” are dispensed with and what’s the big deal if someone merely exercises their “right to choose”?

For that matter why get all bothered if we refer to the unborn as a “fetus”? Granted, nobody talks about an ultrasound of their “unborn fetus,” but still…

To return to #1, the goal is to repeat the Big Lie over and over and over. If need be, revamp the lingo and repeat the Slightly Smaller Lie over and over and over.

And, if push comes to shove, you can even sort of concede there is a “moral component” to ripping heads off of the torsos of unborn babies, just so long as nobody takes the next step and says, “Okay, let’s stop that!”

Final thought: as long as you are actively involved, none of this lethal malarkey will ever win even a “subtle element of affection.” It will remain what is: ugly and inhumane and barbaric.