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April 21, 2007

Guest Blogging: Bug bites and the corruption of language

As most of you by now know, Lindsay and I work together, mucking it up even. As a result, we have forced one another to visit each other's blogs - demanding that the other guest post of all things. So here I am blathering on because frankly, I have spent the last week on assignment in a third world country, and am now sadly nursing my many and various bug bites.

I am sure I will find something of interest to blog about, but at the moment I am entirely lost in the drama of itch and scratch. I did, however, want to mention that while awaiting my flight back to the United States, I learned from an airport TV that our supreme court basically told the women of this nation to sod off, using a fabricated concept called the "partial birth abortion" (a Luntz verbal product sold and apparently bought for political use). I firmly believe and as history has demonstrated that the easiest way to destroy the nation is to corrupt the language by which people can freely exchange ideas, creating some sort of oral-gami in which facts can be submerged under the veneer of opinion or byte sized slogans. The corruption of language has taken away our ability to have any real and honest debate, because the language we are forced to use is artificially created in order to manipulate our emotions.

So a "partial birth abortion" cannot be addressed as is, because such a concept is a fallacy. How then do we move forward on this issue and discuss it meaningfully? Thoughts? In the meantime, I am going back to bed from where my epic itching and scratching marathon will no doubt continue.



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» Response to Jill Filipovic's HuffPo article from Huperborea
Jill Filipovic is a vapid feminist whose lifelong ambition is to export abortion to South America. I posted the following in response to her HuffPo article... [Read More]


Heh heh

A liberal concerned about "corrupting the language"? Now that is rich. Perhaps your real concern may be copyright infingement.

I tend to stay away from the subject of abortion, the most awful , divisive subject its been my misfortune to come across. Anyone who thinks this is an easy black and white "rights" or "murder" issue lacks a brain, or a conscience, or more likely both.

But why do those whacky conservatives call it "partial birth abortion"? Because a live ( "baby"? "fetus"? you choose your euphemism ) is partially born while alive only to be intentionally terminated mid-procedure.

You choose another term. I guarantee it will be a euphemism. This is not "death tax"( an actual corruption of language by the right ) --partial birth abortion is the most accurate description of what actually takes place.

Again, I tend to stay nine miles from this subject, but I know a fair number of women who are pro abortion rights who were horrified at this procedure and who wanted it banned.

Oops wrong link. Here is the right one. If anyone finds it inflammatory, they are welcome to provide their own images of what takes place.

"So a "partial birth abortion" cannot be addressed as is, because such a concept is a fallacy. How then do we move forward on this issue and discuss it meaningfully?"

I think the public needs to be educated on the larger issue of having a right to privacy. The right to make our own medical decisions is part of the larger right to having privacy from the state. Over at Matthew Yglesias's blog,
someone asked, in apparently all innocence, why this was a constitutional issue. I suspect there are a lot of people who are unsure of how limitations on state power, privacy, and our private medical choices are linked issues.

I hope you recover from your bug bites soon.

Which 3rd world country are you coming back from?

Welcome, LB. A post about the corruption of language in politics is long overdue. The neo-cons outflanked us on the shrink-wrapped sound-bite stuff, and I am hoping we will have this opportunity to bite back. About the problem of language, Wiki has fairly good list of logical fallacies, always the building blocks of propaganda, but no list would be complete without the so-called Freudian Defense Mechanisms.

Denial - a failure to recognize an obvious consequence like a mismanaged war in Iraq, a bumbling attorney general, or a World Bank chairman with a conflict-of-interest problem;

Dissociation – a politician makes claims of “integrity in government” but violates laws, treaties, and provisions of the Constitution, while failing to see the contradiction between words and actions;

Projective Identification - attributing one’s own bad behavior to another, i.e., calling your opponent a “tax and spend liberal” while racking up the largest budget deficit in history;

Splitting – an inability to see the world in subtle shades but only in terms of “all black or all white,” as in “You are either with us or you are with the terrorists.”

Symbolization – invoking something positive to suppress something negative, i.e., defending a pre-emptive war with claims of “defending freedom and democracy” because all other arguments have been proven false [such as WMDs and links between Saddam and al-Qaeda];

Conversion – when a former “wet drunk” turns into a “dry drunk” but continues to engage in reckless behaviors without forethought as to consequences;

Outliar – not the statistical aberration, but an attempt to assuage the public with reassuring claims while masking more sinister motives.

Its true that techniques for mob-manipulation have been gaining in sophistication since the 1920's, and that they've had an increasingly baleful influence on democracy. While we can certainly stand to refine our own manipulative skills, however, we're not going to have anything like a real debate in this country again without some truly revolutionary change in the media. And I can't see how that will ever happen.

Welcome, Larisa!

Sorry, Larisa, I don't get around the internets like I used to. What's your blog?

Here is something we CAN discuss and the language can't be subverted. John Roberts SWORE he would never vote against Supreme Court 'PRECEDENT'. The moment he slithed on to the bench these cases began working their way forwards from both coasts. hmmmmm.
Language or no he's a LIAR. As we all knew. What to do about THAT?

Cass -- Check out the Huffington Post:

Thanks, Chris.

Cass (8:58 above), check out the Bill Moyers documentary on PBS this Wednesday. I believe it will be about political lies and deceptions and the failure of media to analyze and question. It will be interesting to see what impact this report will have in future months. Regardless, I do believe this ugly Bush/Cheney crap is starting to unravel.

Ooooh yes, I can't wait for that. Bill Moyers is one of the few people I know of (in public life, at least) who could be described as a credit to my state.

The Conservative unravelling is definitely underway, less because of any actual reporting going on, than the increasingly yawning chasm betwixt rhetoric ("We're defeating the terrorists!", "The economy is booming!", "Your President will keep you safe!") and reality. Our ruling elite has yet to learn the lesson, but there are limits to how much you can accomplish with spin and propaganda.

Well, you may not be able to fool all of the people all of the time, but you do have to give BushCo, the GOP, and the corporate media credit for trying.

The minister of my church gave a sermon once on the issue of abortion, that helped me to make peace with my commitment to a woman's right to choose, particularly in the case of late term abortions.

She used two separate cases that were in the news at that time. In both cases, there was a person with advanced diabetes, who needed a kidney transplant to survive. In both cases, there was a brother who was a perfect tissue match.

In one case, our minister said, the tissue-match sibling agreed to donate his kidney, and his brother's life was saved. And of course, there was great rejoicing all around.

In the other case, the donor brother refused, and the diabetic brother took his sibling to court, to force him to donate his kidney, on the grounds that his brother had two kidneys and only needed one, and he himself could not survive without it.

The court denied his claim on his brother's kidney, saying that a person's right to control the uses their body is put to is absolute, and outweighs anyone else's claim to it. In other words, one person's body cannot be appropriated to save another person's life without their consent. (If I am remembering correctly, this second case occurred in Texas -- possibly in the late nineties?)

As our minister put it, while we rejoice when someone's life is saved (just as we rejoice when a baby is born), the idea of someone else being forced to undergo painful and dangerous medical procedures against their will in order to achieve this is repugnant. And the donation of a kidney, in many ways, imposes less of a burden on the donor than the birth and rearing of a child imposes on the parent.

I have often wondered whether a case such as the one my minister described might end up being used to establish a precedent in US law at the federal court level at some point.

A PS -- from everything I've read, late second-trimester and third-trimester abortions are (a) exceedingly rare, and (b) nearly always because the fetus is already dead or dying, and/ or the woman's health or life are at stake. These are also very good points. But what I liked was how our minister took things out of the emotionally charged context of "OMG, they're killing all the babies!" and put it into a context that everyone could see themselves in.

The state does not have the right to force you to donate an organ to someone without your consent -- even if it will save that person's life. Women should not be held to a standard under the law that men are not required to meet.

Well, there's already a first draft of the nuspeke Bible:

In a society that has sold its media to the commercial world (in order to keep it "free"), all of the foibles of advertising are constantly yammering for legitimation. This has already been a "slippery slope"- going back to the SCOTUS decision in Nix v. Hedden- when tomatoes lost their legal (though not their scientific) right to be addressed as "fruit". The court decided- because of their notion of "common usage" trumping botany- that tomatoes were vegetables, instead. In the words of the partially-actualized, "You may have already won"... ^..^

"But what about the baby's right to privacy? Doesn't it have a right to live?"
I've been seeing some really odd arguments in my comments sections of late, and honestly I think the best way
to tackle to problem of the Supreme Court's ruling is to highlight how explicitly anti-woman it is.

With that ruling, a woman can be forced by law to carry the pregnancy to term even if her death is assured, and the fetus has no chance to survive.

So why not borrow from the right wing playbook? They are taking an incremental approach, and have been for some time now. We can as well. We can start by tackling the idea that women do, in fact, have a right to be alive, and that being pregnant does not rob them of this right.

It still makes me shake and clench just knowing there are people out there who do not believe this, and who claim to speak with religious authority on the matter. This is definitely where to start. We may not convince the fundamentalists to change their minds, but we sure as hell will show their beliefs for what they are.

LauraJ, wingers will just respond that most late term abortions are done for convenience. They can't offer any proof, but they will state this nonetheless.

Well said, Larisa.

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