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Category: Communication / Topics: Communication Language, Meaning Social Issues Trends

Defining Words, Defining Morality

by James N. Watkins

Posted: April 3, 2016

Words shape society, but there remains a True Word…

“Pro-choice” advocates are apparently afraid of even the word “pro-life.” Visit the Chrome Web Store and you’ll find an extension for “Choice Language” that assures that those supporting abortion on demand will never see pro-life on the popular Internet browser. Yep, the program automatically replaces pro-life with “anti-choice” on the screen!

It’s sponsored by the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund which argues, “Those who stand against a woman’s right to decide what is best for her own body prop themselves up as righteous saviors using a problematic framework of rhetoric and religion.”

Wait! Before pro-life (anti-choice) supporters go into premature labor, this does not affect how Google searches for abortion-related material online. It’s only available through its browser’s store and only affects those who download the app.

It does, however, make a strong case for the power of words.

Whoever defines words defines morality

“Pro-choice” sounds so much better than “baby killer.” And, conversely “anti-choice” sounds dystopian compared to “pro-life.” And abortionists don’t “dismember human beings” but “remove fetal tissue.” And the “unborn baby” is simply part of a “woman’s body.” (Note: Her “body” has a completely different DNA, has a fifty-fifty chance of being a different gender and may have a different blood type. Go back to sixth grade health class if you think that baby is your body!)

Governments are infamous for using this “double speak.” Korea and Vietnam were not technically “wars” but “police actions.” Invading a sovereign nation is rhetorically a “peacekeeping mission.” Armies make “preemptive strikes” rather than “unprovoked attacks.” During the Cold War, “Radioactive Death and Destruction” thermonuclear weapons were called “Peacekeepers.” The Air Force doesn’t “bomb” enemy targets but “delivers ordnance” and “services enemy targets.” The military no longer “tortures” prisoners, but employs “enhanced interrogation.” Prisoners are “detainees,” and criminal suspects are now “persons of interest.”

In the same way, companies don’t “layoff employees” but “downsize” by “cutting the cost of business.” Advertisers promote “pre-owned vehicles” rather than “used cars.”

Whoever controls words, controls society

George Orwell, in his prophetic novel, 1984, envisions a society where vocabulary is controlled by the totalitarian state, Oceania, as a tool to limit freedom of thought. Dangerous and divisive concepts such as freedom, self-expression, individuality and peace are replaced with government-approved “newspeak.” Any deviation from approved thought is classified a “thought crime.” For instance, “blackwhite” is newspeak for a willingness to say that black is white when the state demands it.

Double speak, newspeak and today’s “political correctness” lead to what social psychologist Irving Janis dubs “groupthink.” This peer pressure of a group leads to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment. Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.”

The “Language Choice” app is a perfect example of mindguards for a group, whose position is apparently so weak, that it must protect itself from “problematic information”—ie. truth.

Finally, society’s discourse degenerates into “Jabberwocky.” Lewis Carroll created this nonsense “language” in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Alice discovers that in this back-to-front world of the looking glass, she can read the language only by holding it up to a mirror. In this world, right is left, left is right—everything is reversed.

The Bible warns of Jabberwocky: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

The true Word protects from false words

Jesus reminds his followers of these dangers. While he commands, “Judge not,” in the same chapter he warns, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16). The apostle John warns, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) And Paul teaches, “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Arne Tiselius sums this up well: “We live in a world where unfortunately the distinction between true and false appears to become increasingly blurred by manipulation of facts, by exploitation of uncritical minds, and by the pollution of the language.”

All the more reason to cling to The Word who is God!

I am an author and speaker or propagandist and proselytizer—depending on your viewpoint.

Copyright © 2016 James N. Watkins

Related posts
• Is it 1984 in America?
• Is it a “life” or a “choice”?
• Watkins’ New World Church Dictionary

Post originally appeared in March 2016 Viewpoint at Presidential Prayer Team.

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Jim Watkins is a humorist, author, and speaker who says of himself that he "loves God, his family, writing, speaking and Chinese food—in that order"

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Posted: April 3, 2016   Accessed 539 times

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