Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fighting Words

I picked up a bad habit a few months back. A newspaper in a city near where three of our children live has made their on-line edition interactive. You can send comments in about just about anything the paper prints, as long as your don't throw in vulgar insults or profanity. The audience, of course, is other on-line readers.
The bad habit is in daily going mano a mano with people who identify themselves as "Turk", "Jazzbo", "Line Doggie", "Queenmum" and others in the marketplace, or more like the coliseum of ideas. Your argument is supposed to be made in 200 words or less, which isn't usually a problem, but it CAN become time consuming. After all, you have to make sure your insults are subtle enough to pass the newspaper's on-line monitor, then you are obliged to wait and see if your artillery draws a salvo from the other side. It's just a little childish, even though people sometimes use big words to score imaginary debating points. The actual impact on hearts and minds? Probably minimal.
One thing I've noticed is that the two sides (and sometimes there are more) don't even use the same terms. It's as though different dialects are being used. But if you're in a hurry, you can tell where someone stands just by noticing certain words.
Here's the Republican lexicon: P.C., treason, terrorist, politician, pacifist, socialism, illegal alien, neverending, domination, sanction, nuclear, advanced interrogation techniques, government schools, enforcement, threat and deterrent. The favorite Republican word: "Islamofacist" turned out to be a little too awkward, so the faithful always use "appeasement", which has a nice academic/historical ring even if it's used incorrectly. It also carries the bonus benefit of generating fear, which these days is a GOP must.
The Democrats have their favorite terms, too, though I'm not as sensitive to them, being part of the more-or-less party faithful: progressive, profiteer, occupation (as in holding territory), incompetent, insurgency, neocon, undocumented worker, warmonger, fearmonger, torture, chicken hawk ( someone who's pro-war, but never served in one), collateral damage (always used sarcastically) and their favorite, unconstitutional, which is meant to be like saying "I know what your agenda (another good word) is here buddy, and it's not going to happen."
I have to agree that it's good that we no longer have duels or sword fights. Still, men (and some women) have an instinct for combat, even though it can only be verbal in nature. If that's the closest I come to wielding an actual weapon, that's OK. This, and our daily good-weather tennis.


Post a Comment

<< Home