Friday, May 17, 2013

My Slowmoving Train Has Made An Unscheduled Stop

Dear Friends - My blog, like many of yours is a place to share art, creativity, the world around us, happy events or daily events of family life, adventures, hopes, and dreams.  

My blog rarely addresses, in a direct way, my deepest felt values and beliefs.  Nevertheless, just by expressing the things that are meaningful to me, it becomes clear about who I am.  Many of you share my beliefs; others of you don't but are respectful which is all that any of us should expect of each other.  A few readers have left with hateful words.  I can't change that.  It happens.

I've always been a lover of words and how they are used; how they express things.  In the emerging time of what is politically correct, I noticed that word usage started to lead to confusion and actually, when put all together, said absolutely nothing.  

Then I noticed that speaking your mind got push back.  My earliest memory of  push back was before blogs provided a stage for everyone.  It even pre-dates the grand daddy of  social media - My Space.

Then I started noticing that words' meanings were actually changing.  The words Catholic and conservative used to say a lot about me in a meaningful way.  Now they are almost meaningless which, in a strange and twisted way, sort of falls in line with my feelings about using labels to describe a person.

But labels do have their uses.  Using labels gives you a starting point to discern important information about an individual.  The problem is that the meaning of certain words (through usage) have changed so much, that you really can't rely on labels to tell you anything useful or truthful.

Because what a word means through usage has changed so much, clarity has been sacrificed.  If there is no clarity, than communication is rendered meaningless.  On the heels of that last insight, I found myself narrowing my own focus on what I read and consider meaningful.  So when I ran across this article on words, media and meaning, I had to stop and take a look.  Matthew Archbold has perfectly expressed all of my own impression about the very words that I have found to be sacrificed on the altar of verbal misdirection.  I hope you will take a moment.


8 Words The Media Made Meaningless

 Thursday, May 16, 2013

Clarity in communication is a highly coveted skill, especially in the media. You might think that verbal precision you might think would be a must in that field. But some words have me quoting the great Inigo Montoya who said, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Fetus - Fetus is the new f-bomb. The dictionary states that fetus means "an unborn or unhatched offspring of a mammal."
Simple enough, right?
But in the hands of the media, the term "fetus" can seemingly describe human beings from the moment of conception up to and including their kindergarten graduation. The media will sometimes use the term "fetus" if the mother doesn't want the "baby" and they'll use the term "baby" if the mother does. Because you know, scientific terms often depends on moods.
Don't laugh, because it's not just the media. If a baby is killed in the womb and the mother wants the baby, in some states it's murder. But if the woman kills the baby it's perfectly legal. And if you tear a baby apart in the womb, it's legal. But if you do the same thing to the same exact baby after the baby is pulled out, then it's murder. We make no sense.
A recent example of fetus confusion was displayed just this past week in the New York Times when they referred to three murdered children as “fetuses” in an article about the conviction of Kermit Gosnell. Does the Times not understand what occurred in the Gosnell trial? Do they not know what "born alive" means? You see, any humanizing of the "blob of tissue" worries the Times.
But the media as a whole is not even consistent. Brent Bozell pointed out in 2008 a Newsweek story about ultrasounds that said the technology "allows doctors and patients to view the developing fetus with breathtaking clarity." But later in the same story they say that the images help "expectant parents to bond with their babies much earlier." But then in the very next sentence they point to a picture of a "13-week-old fetus." Well, which is it?

Racist - It's the most overused term in politics, recently eclipsing "Nazi" for that title. It simply means someone who doesn't watch MSNBC.

Fundamentalist - The term "fundamentalist" came out of Protestant movement in the early 20th century as a way of returning to the fundamentals of the faith. But it has become to many a synonym for "bad."
So odd is the use of the term that former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has been described in the media as a fundamentalist. Yeah, the Catholic Rick Santorum.
Get Religion pointed out a situation when those at the Discovery Institute were all described as "fundamentalist." That group consisted of Episcopalians, Catholics, and Jews. In short, the term is used to describe a Christian that the media doesn't approve of. What they really mean is "can you believe it, this person actually believes this Christianity stuff." The term "fundamentalist" is most often attached with the word "strict" which, of course, leads me to wonder if anyone has been described as an un-strict fundamentalist?

Homophobic - There's no way to tell anymore from the way the word is used if someone actually holds a fear or contempt for homosexuals or is simply a believer that marriage takes places between a man and a woman.
Tom Joyner, an African-American radio host, recently questioned why the media was more fascinated by an NBA player nobody had ever heard of announcing his homosexuality over a story in which a number of college athletes were arrested for sexual assault." For that, he was labeled a homophobe in the pages of the Huffington Post. Maybe Joyner isn't homophobic. Maybe he's just anti-rape? Isn't that possible?

Right/Left - Big government totalitarians like Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler are often described as right wing, Vladmir Putin (a wanna-be tyrant) is also described as right wing because they seek to increase the power of the government which they head. But in the U.S. those who want to radically increase the size of government are described as being on the left. And those who want to decrease the size of government are somehow on the right. You see, what is really meant is left=good, right=bad.
This switcheroo is done for many reasons, but a big one is that leftist heads of state like Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mao keep piling up massive body counts. So in order to not associate American progressives with body counts, they simply switch the term for domestic politics. Neat, huh? Good thing the left nowadays is in no way culpable for a massive body count in the U.S.
50 million unborn human beings could not be reached for comment.

Budget cuts Most often seen with the term "draconian." The term "budget cuts" can mean small reductions in increases to spending. Mind you, it can still refer to a growth in spending. Just not as much as some want.

Bioethicist - Very often this term is used to describe someone who is not guided by any discernible ethics concerning human beings. Kermit Gosnell went to jail for doing what some "bioethicists" argue for in journals.

Devout Catholic. In order to be described as a "devout Catholic" by the mainstream media one must publicly hold views antithetical to Church teaching such as on abortion and gay marriage. You get ledes like this from very recent news stories about "devout Catholics."
Nevada Senator and devout Catholic Kelvin Atkinson came out on Monday night during a vote to repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage.
After a moving speech by a senator who described herself as a devout Catholic and said she would support marriage equality, the Rhode Island Senate Wednesday afternoon (April 24) voted 26 to 12 to approve a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state.
This one's my favorite from The Vancouver Sun. Author Dan Brown calls contraceptive cheerleader Melinda Gates a "devout Catholic."
Brown does briefly take on the Vatican in Inferno for its “meddling in reproductive issues,” and he praises Melinda Gates, “a devout Catholic herself,” for raising hundreds of millions of dollars to improve access to birth control
. Wait, you mean to tell me that Dan Brown doesn't understand Catholicism?! What?!!!! For those in the public eye who actually believe what the Church says, please see "Fundamentalist" above.

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Ginny said...

This is a very smart post, and so coincidental that our Wednesday evening bible study this week was about this, but broken down even further. I am going to print this and bring it to our pastor, as the next part is next Wednesday. Oh, and I also AGREE!

Annie said...

I would love to know his response, Ginny. Thanks.

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

True words, my friend, true words!

trailbee said...

The writer left out "ardent Catholic." That is what Nancy Pelosi calls herself - or did while she was ramming Ocare through the Congress.
Good post.

Nonnie said...

His points are why I get so frustrated with the media. As you and Archbold point out, words as defined in dictionaries have been demolished by the media and politicians.
I think most of my family would qualify me as a devout and ardent Catholic. I guess that everyone gets to decide if this is good or bad.

judie said...

Oh Ms. Annie, don't be upset about what media writes or says. Just keep in mind they only want to sell papers, or sell advertising, and stirring up "interest", such as it may be, is the only way they can do it. Always remember, the bottom line is revenue, no matter what the entity. I believe in you, and that you can be true to yourself. That's what really counts.

Re: Ms. Wee, yes she is still snuggling, only now she has two. I feel so sad they will not hatch, because she is such a good, protective mommy. But...well..I have to remember this sadness in my heart is a human feeling, and not a bird instinct. I will actually be glad when she decides to abandon them, so we can get on with living.

Take care, Ms. Annie, and just feel love in your heart for YOU as well as others. xoxo

Diane AZ said...

It is interesting how words of a modern language can change in meaning over time. Nice used to mean silly or ignorant and awful originally meant deserving of awe.