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Author Topic: Euphemisms!  (Read 1919 times)
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« on: August 26, 2010, 10:33:14 am »

George Carlin on Euphemisms

I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't like words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. 'Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth. So they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason it just keeps getting worse. I'll give you an example of that.

There's a condition in combat, most people know about it, it's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum -- can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called "shell shock." Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables: "shell shock." Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago.

Then a whole generation went by, and the second world war came along, and the very same combat condition was called "battle fatigue." Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. "Shell shock!"..."Battle fatigue."

Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called "operational exhaustion." Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. "Operational exhaustion." Sounds like something that might happen to your car.

Then of course came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceit surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called "post-traumatic stress disorder." Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen, and the pain is completely buried under jargon! "Post-traumatic stress disorder." I'll bet ya if we'd of still been calling it "shell shock," some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha that. I'll betcha that.

But it didn't happen. And one of the reasons, one of the reasons, is because we were using that soft language -- that language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse. I'll give you another example.

Sometime during my life, sometime during my life, "toilet paper" became "bathroom tissue." I wasn't notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. "Toilet paper" became "bathroom tissue."

"Sneakers" became "running shoes."

"False teeth" became "dental appliances."

"Medicine" became "medication."

"Information" became "directory assistance."

"The dump" became "the landfill."

"Car crashes" became "automobile accidents."

"Partly cloudy" bacame "partly sunny."

"Motels" became "motor lodges."

"House trailers" became "mobile homes."

"Used cars" became "previously owned transportation."

"Room service" became "guest-room dining."

And "constipation" became "occasional irregularity."

When I was a little kid, if I got sick they wanted me to go to the hospital and see the doctor. Now they want me to go to a "health maintenance organization," or a "wellness center" -- to consult a "healthcare delivery professional."

"Poor people" used to live in "slums." Now the "economically disadvantaged" occupy "substandard housing in the inner cities." And they're broke! They're broke! They don't have a "negative cash-flow position." They're f**king broke! 'Cause a lot of them were fired. You know, "fired"? -- management wanted to "curtail redundancies" in the "human resources area," so many people are no longer "viable members of the workforce"?

Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins, it's as simple as that.

The CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they "neutralize" people, or they "depopulate" the area. The government doesn't lie, it engages in "disinformation." The pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call "sunshine units." Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called "terrorists." Contra killers are called "freedom fighters." Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they? Never mention that part of it.
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"For the first years of [Ludwig von] Mises’s life in the United States...he was almost totally dependent on annual research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.” -- Richard M. Ebeling

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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2010, 11:39:11 am »

The Language of Looting

What "Nationalize the Banks" and the "Free Market" Really Mean in Today's Looking-Glass World

By Michael Hudson
February 23, 2009

    "Banking shares began to plunge Friday morning after Senator Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who is chairman of the banking committee, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that he was concerned the government might end up nationalizing some lenders “at least for a short time.” Several other prominent policy makers – including Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – have echoed that view recently.”

           -- Eric Dash, “Growing Worry on Rescue Takes a Toll on Banks,” The New York Times, February 20, 2009

How is it that Alan Greenspan, free-market lobbyist for Wall Street, recently announced that he favored nationalization of America’s banks –- and indeed, mainly the biggest and most powerful? Has the old disciple of Ayn Rand gone Red in the night? Surely not.

The answer is that the rhetoric of “free markets,” “nationalization” and even “socialism” (as in “socializing the losses”) has been turned into the language of deception to help the financial sector mobilize government power to support its own special privileges. Having undermined the economy at large, Wall Street’s public relations think tanks are now dismantling the language itself.

Exactly what does “a free market” mean? Is it what the classical economists advocated – a market free from monopoly power, business fraud, political insider dealing and special privileges for vested interests – a market protected by the rise in public regulation from the Sherman Anti-Trust law of 1890 to the Glass-Steagall Act and other New Deal legislation? Or is it a market free for predators to exploit victims without public regulation or economic policemen – the kind of free-for-all market that the Federal Reserve and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) have created over the past decade or so? It seems incredible that people should accept today’s neoliberal idea of “market freedom” in the sense of neutering government watchdogs, Alan Greenspan-style, letting Angelo Mozilo at Countrywide, Hank Greenberg at AIG, Bernie Madoff, Citibank, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers loot without hindrance or sanction, plunge the economy into crisis and then use Treasury bailout money to pay the highest salaries and bonuses in U.S. history.

Terms that are the antithesis of “free market” also are being turned into the opposite of what they historically have meant. Take today’s discussions about nationalizing the banks. For over a century nationalization has meant public takeover of monopolies or other sectors to operate them in the public interest rather than leaving them to special interests. But when neoliberals use the word “nationalization” they mean a bailout, a government giveaway to the financial interests.

Doublethink and doubletalk with regard to “nationalizing” or “socializing” the banks and other sectors is a travesty of political and economic discussion from the 17th through mid-20th centuries. Society’s basic grammar of thought, the vocabulary to discuss political and economic topics, is being turned inside-out in an effort to ward off discussion of the policy solutions posed by the classical economists and political philosophers that made Western civilization “Western.”

Today’s clash of civilization is not really with the Orient; it is with our own past, with the Enlightenment itself and its evolution into classical political economy and Progressive Era social reforms aimed at freeing society from the surviving trammels of European feudalism. What we are seeing is propaganda designed to deceive, to distract attention from economic reality so as to promote the property and financial interests from whose predatory grasp classical economists set out to free the world. What is being attempted is nothing less than an attempt to destroy the intellectual and moral edifice of what took Western civilization eight centuries to develop, from the 12th century Schoolmen discussing Just Price through 19th and 20th century classical economic value theory.

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"For the first years of [Ludwig von] Mises’s life in the United States...he was almost totally dependent on annual research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.” -- Richard M. Ebeling
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