As of late, I’ve become increasingly aware of how specific words have been infecting our consciousness. How the oversimplification of language and, hence, concepts has been doing harm to our society and discourse. I call that: Word misappropriation.
You missed "vaccination"
Just heard you on with Phetasy and thought you were reasonable, and like Greenwald, Berenson & Weiss were driven away by what has become akin to a religious cult known as Big Media.
This piece was very good and I look forward to reading more.
Yes, in this age, it might be said that political battles are largely won and lost on this terrain. "Racism" used to mean "prejudice based on race"; now it means "any set of circumstances under which white people are on average doing better than any other racial group or are in the majority vis-a-vis other racial groups". "Equity" used to mean "everyone gets treated fairly"; now it means "reordering society to ensure that every group experiences the same outcomes". So now to oppose racism and favor equity essentially guarantees that you favor a radical and endless government-imposed redistribution of money, power, and people around the Earth.
Great piece! Our school board and administrators are masters of ‘word misappropriation’, and word salad! I resist calling it lying, but changing meanings has become an obvious strategy to disconnect from the community and facilitate plans for ‘fundamental change’. I wonder if there is a way to convey this for disbelievers using chronological time. A plot of definitions for words you cite and how frequently they have changed over time. Great job, keep it up!
I like the phrase, "word salad." Some toss together a ton of buzz words but actually say nothing meaningful. And if you ask for clarification, you're automatically a "denier." Great piece.
“Violence” is another instance of a word that has been turned on its head. It’s an especially important word because so much of our legal system assumes a bright line distinction between violent offense and verbal offense. My sense is that younger people, who have been raised in perhaps the least violent time in all of human history, have an essentially naive view of the problem. Violence for them is an abstraction, but feeling hurt is as real for them as things get. The slogan “silence is violence” takes the collapse in meaning to its absurd extreme.
Racist, genocide, and apartheid have been redefined for us.
In the good old days, a black person could be racist. Now they can't because of (apparently) the power structure.
Likewise, genocide was defined by some international court or tribunal iunto something vastly broader than what most of us associate these word with. But even when they're being used in the broader sense, they carry the emotional weight of their original meaning.
"Cis." Not a misappropriated word, but a relatively new and contested word that carries a lot of cultural assumptions, assumptions that some would say misappropriate the definition of 'man' and 'woman', and misappropriate the term 'gender' for 'sex', de-conflating and re-conflating those terms at random.
And, of course, 'harm' and 'violence', meaning things the speaker doesn't like.
Also 'conversation', as in "We need to have a conversation about..." meaning "You need to listen while I lecture you about..."
PS. Feel free to share misappropriated words you've come across yourself here.