“Words are weapons. Words are tools. Define or be defined!” – Michael Emerling
“What is necessary is to rectify names.” — Confucius
“An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public.” — Charles Talleyrand
“If I am offensive, you may take it that I am offended!” – Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes, in Murder by Decree
The title of this piece is misleading, but I couldn’t come up with a better one that would concisely convey my major sentiment this morning. Well, actually I could, but it seemed inappropriate for a conservative website. (I was about to write “family-friendly,” but that’s more of an aspiration than an actuality. At any rate, my family doesn’t read Liberty’s Torch. Why should it?)
I hope you have an adequate supply of antacids on hand, Gentle Reader, because every now and then I simply need to vent, and today is an instance thereof.
I’m a writer. That is to say: I write stuff. Fiction, exposition, opinion-editorial, technicata, and so forth. Words are my most fundamental tools. I refuse to let anyone tell me which words I must, may, and must not use. That’s absolute.
The greater part of the Leftist attack on Americans’ freedom and convictions is its attack on our language. Pace Orwell, Leftist strategists and tacticians believe that if they can deprive us of the words required to express our convictions and preferences, they can extinguish those things, or at least weaken the defenses around them sufficiently that they can then be overrun. This follows from their Social construction of reality thesis, from the Sapir-Whorf thesis, and overall from their embrace of the assumptions underlying the Party’s methods in 1984, which they do regard as an instruction manual.
Draining the useful words out of a language is a protracted and difficult enterprise. The Left has approached that undertaking in stages. Each stage has anathematized the words required to express some conviction or sentiment, usually on the grounds that those words are “hurtful,” or perhaps “intolerant.” The irony here could stop an army on the march: accusations of bigotry and intolerance lurk under the surface of virtually every linguistic limitation Leftists, inarguably the most bigoted and intolerant persons the world has ever known, seek to impose on the rest of us. Yet by dint of repetition and volume, Leftists have largely succeeded in banishing the targeted words – useful words! Words with important and unambiguous meanings! – from the American lexicon.
Then they come to websites such as this one, submit hate-and-bile-filled “comments” intended only to wound and intimidate, and accuse the proprietors of “censorship” for rejecting them.
The entire undertaking delineated above, usually summarized as political correctness, is an exercise in conquest by intimidation. Intimidation, according to Sun Tzu, is a weapon more to be feared than any other, for it can induce a fighting force to surrender without fighting. It’s also the root of Saul Alinsky’s #1 rule: that power isn’t only what you have, but what your enemy thinks you have.
But intimidation is a collaborative process. The target must accept the proposition that he must not fight, either because he can’t win or because the consequences will be too awful to bear. Needless to say, to reject that proposition one must be willing to fight – and to be hurt as much as is necessary to gain one’s objective or to hold one’s ground.
With this we come to the evil miracle, the most wondrously destructive of all the achievements of the Left in the political interplay of our time. My Gentle Readers being a bright and observant sort, having read what follows they’ll in all likelihood say to themselves “Of course. I knew it all along.” Yet having said as much, many will berate themselves for not having taken it to heart.
Your enemy is, by definition, someone who wishes you ill. He intends your subjugation or destruction. If you’re sane and possess appropriate self-regard, your objective is to prevent him from attaining his objective. By implication, his opinion of you should be utterly unimportant to you.
Politicians and commentators in the Right have utterly missed that implication.
Contrast the behavior and statements of figures on the Left and the Right these past few decades. I posit that the Left has made its intentions plain at every step. Leftist politicians and spokesmen have never feared to wound persons on the Right, whether by word or by deed. Yet the Right has behaved, spoken, and written as if the most important of all its desiderata is not to offend the Left or its allegiants.
Few exceptions have poked their heads above the trench lip.
Once again I must cite Alinsky:
- “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
- “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
- “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”
If Smith is determined to harm Jones, he will enjoy every tactical success. Indeed, those successes will encourage the repetition of the associated tactics. Therefore, rhetorical successes founded on getting persons in the Right to retreat on the grounds of “hurt feelings” or accusations of “intolerance” will engender more such claims and accusations. It all follows, so clearly that it’s an embarrassment that it should need to be pointed out this way. Yet the great majority of Rightists act as if it were as impenetrable as quantum physics.
This must cease.
Concerning the Left’s war over words, especially pronouns, five years ago I wrote as follows:
I’ve been upbraided in fora beyond counting for retaining the “he”-as-generic-singular-pronoun convention. Conversely, when I’ve suggested to other writers that the convention remains as it was, and that using it is greatly to be preferred to mangling one’s syntax or writing as if one were terminally confused about one’s subject, I’ve evoked the very screams of outrage of which [Sarah Hoyt] speaks here. To borrow the timeless idiom of a good friend, the harridans in the audience have called me “everything but white.”
That’s what harridans do. Once I became accustomed to it, it ceased to affect me.
Also, there’s the little matter of racial sensitivities. Not too many people are aware that a century or so ago, the accepted term for persons of the Negro race was “black.” But over time, the race-hustlers deemed that term offensive. So the accepted term became “colored.” Over time the race-hustlers anathematized that term as well. So the accepted term became “Negro,” the technical racial classification. But over time that term was deemed beyond the pale. So now we’re down to “African-American”—but that won’t last; give ‘em time.
If you follow politics, you may be aware that Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who recently declared himself in the running for the Republican presidential nomination, brought the wrath of the Left down on his head for daring to use the phrase “black cloud” in referring to the economy. No surprises there; it’s part of the Left’s linguistic offensive to rule every possible idiom and figure of speech offensive.
The idea isn’t that anyone is genuinely offended by these idioms, or by the old “he”-for-generic-singular convention. It’s to make us censor ourselves: to compel us to prejudge every word that emerges from our mouths, pens, or keyboards according to whether it might offend someone. This, when American Negroes casually call one another nigger and a feminist playwright concludes her most popular play with a chant of “Cunt...cunt...cunt...”
As a technique for silencing, and ultimately subjugating, one’s opposition, this one has no superiors and few peers.
This mick-wop honky has had quite enough:
Idioms that use “black” or “dark” to indicate ominousness are just fine by me.
Persons who prefer lovers of their own sex are homosexuals, not “gay.”
Please, enough with the “undocumented worker” BS. They’re illegal aliens.
My fiction will depict villains who are Negroes, homosexuals, Hispanics, and Muslims as it suits me—and given the crime and terrorism statistics, it will frequently suit me.
And most emphatically, “he” is my standard generic-singular pronoun.
Don’t like it? Read someone else.
I won’t give in.
I meant every word of it, and I stand by it today. Yet for a good long while I was assailed for it...from the Right. My attackers kept telling me I was “hurting their feelings,” where the word their referred to various groups on the Left that actively sought to do much worse than hurt my feelings.
Arrant nonsense, even lunacy...from persons who had to know better and had no reason to behave otherwise.
One last spate of bile and I’ll close for today. Have a snippet from Black Coven, E. William Brown’s second “Daniel Black” novel. It’s set in a medieval society suffering a war between the Norse and the Greek pantheons. Black is an American of our time, imported to that world by the goddess Hecate to become a powerful sorcerer and the protector of her High Priestess.
I was starting to get a handle on my strange situation, at least enough to see that passively clinging to familiar habits was a terrible idea. I half-suspected Avilla was trying to provoke me into some display of possessiveness, and I knew Cerise wanted to play kinky dominance games with me. Neither of them had any interest in being with some wishy-washy guy who didn’t have the backbone to pursue his own desires. Not to mention that they both wanted to surround themselves with pretty girls that they could seduce for their own entertainment, and they thought sharing the bounty with their guy was only polite.
Yeah, my witches were complicated. They’d keep me on my toes, and however rewarding this crazy relationship might be it was never going to be simple. If I ever got complacent they’d walk all over me, and then they’d get bored and start wanting to move on.
In contrast, with Tina everything was easy.
She’d been raised to believe that the best way for a woman to get by in the world was to marry a good man and keep him happy so he’d want to take care of her. She was perfectly happy with this, contrary to what a modern feminist would expect, and her innocent eagerness to please was terribly attractive. Granted, she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but so what? She was still better company than ninety percent of the people I’d ever met.
Note how utterly realistic Daniel Black is in the above. He doesn’t reject the realities around him simply because they clash with his Twenty-First Century Information Age American origins. He certainly doesn’t demand that his witches – all female and comely – conform to his notions of “how things ought to be.” Instead he resolves to deal with his surroundings and the people in them as he finds them. And a wee bit later in the tale:
“Your beauty” [he said to Tina] “ is going to be a work of art I create for myself.”
She gasped, and I swear she nearly had an orgasm right there in the chair. “You’re going to change my looks, milord?”
“You’ll make me whatever you want?”
“Will you...bind me?” she half-whispered, half-moaned.
I moved around the table to put my hands on her shoulders. “With the darkest of magic. I’ll bind your heart to belong to me, utterly and forever. I’ll make you over into a creature of magic, crafted for my pleasure. I’ll fill you up with dark desires, unbearable needs for the most depraved of pleasures. Then, when you can stand no more, I will take you and make you mine forever.”
Her wide eyes glittered with desire, and the panting of her breath set her mountainous breasts heaving. “Yes! Thank you, milord. Please, make me your woman.”
A contemporary feminist would condemn every word of the above. Yet it’s what Tina, and ninety-nine percent of the women of that world, would most ardently wish for.
It’s also what most contemporary women, had they not been browbeaten unmercifully out of their natural desires by feminist harridans, would want for themselves. Yet Leftist idiots who’ve disparaged the “Daniel Black” books have called them “male empowerment fantasies” and other terms of condemnation.
By the way, Tina doesn’t just want to be Daniel Black’s woman, his to mold and enjoy as he pleases; she also wants his babies. Lots and lots of his babies. So do his other witches.
Be what you are, and be it in style! – Robert A. Heinlein
Zoroaster reserved his highest praise for him who “speaks truth and shoots the arrow straight.” The scholars of Judaism have labored for centuries over their scriptures, straining to determine the exact meaning of each and every word. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind, said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father except through me,” and of course, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
Within every man who’s ever lived or ever will is a soul: a core of knowledge about reality that can neither be removed, nor altered, nor erased. Yes, women too. Whether we acknowledge those realities determines our overall success as children of God. You cannot be happy in a state of denial, and you cannot alter reality by compelling yourself and others to speak as if it were other than it is. Your soul will not permit it.
Speak truth, using the words you need, in good English grammar, and never mind who pretends to be offended by it.
Need I say more? I mean, really?