Vocabulary, You Bastard

So many words! They're overpowering us!

September 8, 2010

Beck’s on vacation, Limbaugh’s just normal crazy, Bachmann is still her same old psycho-idiot, and no one’s really done anything stupid enough in censorship this week. At least, I haven’t seen anything.

Time for an English language rant!

Arguments often lead to a basic truth. Even if one side will never admit it, there’s often one point of view that’s more valid or just made a better use of evidence and logic. However, this assumes both sides start on equal footing. If you have one side labeled a devil while the other is white-washed and wreathed in angels and flowers, you’re going to get a very different public perception.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Language by ~Avalon-Shiranui on deviantART

Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice

If one side is for life, isn’t the opposite side for death?

That’s the first thing I thought when I first heard of this debate. The names are completely inadequate to frame the debate. You can always have, say, socialism versus capitalism since both terms which describe their points of view, but pro choice and pro-life both have names that are absurd.

“Pro-life” already implies that a fetus is alive from the point of conception. If you believe in a woman’s right to chose, you understand how problematic this can be. If the debate starts with the other side saying they want to save lives, because those lives are real (a circular argument), you’ve pretty much lost. Your side will forever be branded “pro-death.”

Facts vs Opinions by ~Mysterieux936 on deviantART


This is perhaps the only group I can think of that is named based on what it DOESN’T believe. A deist believes in a divine power but may choose not to worship it. A Christian believes that Christ is the son of God. A Buddhist follows the teaching of Buddha. An atheist believes in… atheism?

By framing atheism as the absence of a belief system when all other belief systems are based on their definition, it creates an instant hostility. We don’t call Jews “proto-Christians” any more than we call Buddhists “non-Muslims.” An atheist believes that the world and what we can analyze and interact with is all that exists. That’s it, but calling an atheist “materialistic” uses a term that’s also been tainted by meanings of greed.

Tied Up in Time and Confusion by *teagmcgillivary on deviantART

There are dozens of others.

Take, for example, “traditional family values.” Oh boy. I hate this one. The argument is never against Christian morality or fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. It’s typically framed in the context of “traditional family values,” a term that means almost nothing without knowing whose family you’re talking about.

And trust me. I wrote speeches for Congress. I learned to write five minutes of nothing. It hurt.

“Bigot” is another that’s been getting thrown out. If you don’t agree with someone’s philosophy, you’re a bigot, or at least that’s the way some people are using the term. That used to be called multiculturalism. I don’t have to agree with someone’s world-view to like or get along with them.

Okay, that’s it. I’m tired. On Friday, hopefully the new Charcoal Streets will be ready. It’s turning into my own personal Duke Nukem Forever.

meeting a deadline by ~Pockypuu on deviantART


  • This handy infographic on the Facebook vs iPhone vs Android app war is quite telling. No matter how much people complain about Facebook every time it changes something, it still manages to draw a crowd.
  • In news that is sure to get all you history-philes all nice and moist, footage of the blitz IN COLOR has been recently unearthed in England. It shows the war in a way we hadn’t seen before. Now I’m waiting for that 3D footage of Normandy.
  • Friends of mine in the Army have told me about MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) and the verdict ranges from gut-cement to “taste of home.” Ever wonder what other countries give their troops? I have to say, if given the choice, I’d go with the French MRE.
  • Money can’t buy happiness, but $75,000 a year can buy peace of mind. That’s the claim by a recent study. Apparently, $75,000 is enough to lessen stress. It doesn’t make you happier, but it provides enough financial security to help offset many crises.
  • For those who enjoy hearing about people’s disastrous sexual escapades, check out this ad for the worst gang-bang ever.
  • And finally, in the best news in cabaret punk since the formation of the Dresden Dolls… the Dresden Dolls are getting back together for a reunion tour! Check out the announcement trailer below.