Frontiers In Doublespeak

     If you’ve never visited the Baseline Essays collection, I exhort you to spend a couple of minutes there perusing what’s on offer. Yes, it’s all old blather from one of the wordiest people ever to infest the Web. Still, some of those pieces are actually…ahem…interesting. My focus today is on the wildly popular Dictionary of Government Doublespeak, an invaluable collection of translations of Washington euphemisms and circumlocutions into plain English. It’s essential armament for anyone who wants to spout his opinions to the general public.

     This morning, I have a new entry for it:

     “Our Democracy:” The way things are now, which is how the political Establishment likes them (and will fight like mad dogs to preserve).

     When you see “our democracy” in print, or hear it from the lips of some politician, unpack it at once. President Trump has been condemned interminably for being “a threat to our democracy.” Meaning what? Why, that he threatened the cushy inside arrangements of a whole lot of Establishment politicians and their clients in the corporate world. Rice bowls were tottering throughout the corridors of power. Politicians and lobbyists faced the prospect of having to get actual jobs. Can’t have that!

     When an entrant to the national scene threatens some aspect of the Establishmentarian Order, you can expect to see references to the protection of “our democracy.” Here’s a recent example:

     Column: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a threat to your health — and our democracy

     The focus of the article is on Kennedy’s questioning of vaccine safety. It’s a common subject these days, what with the COVID-19 “vaccines” being provably more dangerous than the COVID-19 virus. There’s quite a lot of money tied up in vaccines, you know. Especially the mandatory administration of vaccines to very young children – in some cases, soon after birth. Some of that money is paid to the LA Times by its advertisers. So we can’t have anyone questioning the safety or efficacy of vaccines. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

     Columnist Michael Hiltzik may not have been told to crank the hysteria up to 11, but he did it. “Our democracy,” indeed.

     Robert Spencer comments thus:

     Now, this is absurd on its face and an insult to the intelligence of the handful of remaining Los Angeles Times readers. The Left has now become so divorced from reality that Times writer Michael Hiltzik would have us believe that a contested Democrat party primary is bad for “our democracy.” But a full-out coronation of Old Joe to serve another four years as the figurehead for the shadowy individuals who are really running things? Why, that would be “our democracy” personified. One candidate, inevitable outcome? Good democracy! Two candidates, unclear outcome? Bad democracy!

     Indeed squared!

     Gentle Reader, if you’ve never reflected on the penchant political columnists possess for bending, folding, stapling, and mutilating our sacred language into shapes unimagined by the greatest origamists in human history, now would not be a bad time to start. And for a bonus dollop of illumination: that phrase “would not be a bad time to start” is called a periphrasis. It’s a technique for using negatives to convey a positive suggestion. Paradoxically, this underscores the positive notion. It has the side benefit of making the user sound like W. Somerset Maugham.

     [NB: For those who were confused by my neologism: Bigamists practice bigamy; origamists practice…?]

     Perhaps I’ll be back later with something else. At any rate, it would not be unprecedented.


  1. Author Ambrose Bierce may solely be remembered for The Devil’s Dictionary, an often humorous compendium of cynical twists on otherwise standard word meanings.

    Your Dictionary of Government Doublespeak, two decades old, was something that had escaped my notice.

    So you have a head-start on something I had only recently mused might be useful: “An Angel’s Dictionary that translated the reverse meaning of every phrase promulgated by the “Progressive” Movement.” It would surely please both old skeptics and new victims of every stripe currently fed up with Prog rottenness.

    Such a tome might finally grow your readership despite obstacles thrown up by major publishers and critics to the prescience of your thoughts.

  2. I gotta tell ya, Francis, your third to last paragraph (“Gentle Reader, if you’ve never reflected…”) really rocked my socks off, as you’ll see on your next sojourn over at my websty. Good, good stuff, buddy.

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