Lying Politicians, Corrupt Media, and Weasel Words
The mighty organ of free speech that is ‘Absolutely True’ has invited me to do an occassional column for them and I couldn’t resist because Lord do we ever need some balance in the news. Huge swathes of the media are owned by a very few private individuals who each has a personal agenda that, believe me, isn’t about truth or justice or your welfare folks. The so-called ‘news’ on some mainstream TV channels and in some newspapers is nothing more than thinly-disguised propaganda. Its a bland mixture of celebrity slop and a few ‘facts’ served up with whatever distorting spin best serves the interests of the media moguls and their political puppets. If all you ever watch is Fox news, for example, you can’t avoid having a very skewed view of the world and we can all see the trouble that’s caused recently, can’t we ? So on the one hand you have the lying politicians and multi-billionaire media moguls manipulating public opinion for their own ends and on the other hand, well there’s just you and me buddy. Ordinary folks who won’t buy into the bullshit. But you never know, maybe in time there’ll be a few more of us. It’d be nice to think so.
Anyway today I thought we could have a little chat about ‘weasel words’. Words that set out to deceive. Victims of violent crime, they say, feel traumatized and shocked but if that’s true them God knows what the English language is feeling like these days because its certainly taking a beating from those who cynically want to manipulate public perception. And who’s doing it ? The politicians and news media you should be able to trust, thats who. Remember a while back when the papers were full today of the merciless pounding Israel, bristling with sophisticated war technology, was giving dirt-poor and relatively defenseless Lebanon ? What would be amusing, if it wasn’t so tragic, is that the mainstream media, TV and newspapers, routinely called that aggression ‘defense’. Strange use of the English language, eh ? Lets break it down, folks. Israel sent warplanes to fire rockets into densely populated areas, with the expected loss of civilian life. Result, dead men, women and children. The Lebanese (or the hizbollah element) fired katusha rockets into densely populated Israeli areas. Result, dead men, women and children. Equally reprehensible acts, most reasonable people would agree. In both cases designed simply to terrorise the population. Both sides were indulging in terrorism as a tactic. In the first case though, we were told on the mainstream news that Israels use of force was legitimate ‘defence’. The Lebanese response however was just ‘terrorism’. See the weaselly misuse of the English language to manipulate your perception ? Say it long enough and loud enough and lots of people actually believe what they’re told rather than what they see. That’s the idea. And what about that old bogeyman word, ‘terrorist’ ? Well in reality a terrorist is simply someone who uses tactics designed to terrorize. Its a tactic, not an ideology (which is why the idea of a ‘war against terror’ is a laughable nonsense .. you can’t fight a noun). If your family and friends are being blown to pieces then I guess you’re justified in thinking whoever is doing it is a ‘terrorist’, regardless of their stated motives or nationality or whether its a guy in a turban or a soldiers uniform. Sadly the word ‘terrorist’ has been stripped of all real meaning. Its become the modern-day equivalent of what the word ‘communist’ was in 1950s America. Its the word you can’t argue back against. Its a word to be thrown cynically at someone like a bucket of shit to smear them. No need for any reasoned argument or justification. Just call someone a ‘terrorist’ and it justifies whatever bad things you want to do to them. Suspend habeus corpus ? Fine! Illegal detention and kidnapping ? Why not ! A little torture ? Cool. Slaughter a few hundred thousand people who never engaged in a ‘terrorist’ act in their lives ? Ok, if you say so. After all, whatever you do to a ‘terrorist’ is OK, isn’t it ?
And what about the really big words like ‘Freedom and Democracy’ ? Well its mostly GW Bush’s spin-doctors who bang on about this so much. Sadly they don’t mean ‘real’ freedom and democracy as you or I or any normal person would understand it. Their ‘Freedom’ is only ever permissible up to the point where it opposes US commercial interests and their ‘democracy’ is only allowed in a form that doesn’t make the US feel insecure. If it does, then the CIA will pump in money and mercenaries to overthrow a democratically elected government and replace it with a US-puppet. Don’t believe me ? Don’t stick your head in the sand. Just read your history. Read about Iran. Read about the CIA dirty tricks in Latin America. So the words ‘Freedom and Democracy’, as used by the Bush spin-doctors and their predecessors, really mean anything but. And while we’re on the subject of ‘Weasel Words’ how about the discredited Bush/Blair doctrine of ‘pre-emptive strikes’ on foreign sovereign countries (in other words ‘do it to them before they do it to you’) ? Try telling a judge that you punched a guy in the face because you believed he was thinking about attacking you, and hear his hoots of derision all the way to jail. In the real world ‘pre-emptive strike’ = unprovoked aggression. Here’s another one that was in a newspaper I read today… ‘Collateral Damage’. That’s a doozy of a Weasel Word. Its become military and politician-speak for indiscriminate slaughter, where innocent fathers, mothers, and children are ‘accidentally’ shot, maimed or blown to pieces with bombs. Don’t show the corpses on prime-time TV, just report another incident of ‘Collateral Damage’ and that’s OK. You’ve gotta love those little spin-doctors. They must sit up at nights thinking of new ways to screw with the public’s mind.
However you slice it, folks, the English language is being pretty cynically screwed-with these days just to fool you. In fact I’d say its suffering more than a bit of ‘collateral damage’ itself, wouldn’t you ? So next time you hear some puffed-up little jerk of a politician on TV yakking about spreading ‘freedom’ or ‘democracy’ or ‘defensive action’ or ‘pre-emptive strikes’ or ‘terrorism’, just take a minute and try to work out what he’s ‘really’ talking about. Because its sure as hell not going to be what he ’seems’ to be talking about. Let me ask you a question. Is it too much to expect the politicians we employ and the news media we pay for to use words honestly, to say what they really mean and mean what they say? Well if it is, then at least we can call them what they really are. No weasel words here. They’re liars, plain and simple. And you can tell them Joe Hack said that.