A short time ago I posted a link to my article about the misuse of words. This has obvious application in my research on the use of the word robber to delegitimize the Gadiantion Robbers. Thomas Sowell is an intellectual that has been highly influential for decades. I first discovered his writings in 2007, when I read the book Black Rednecks and White Liberals. He explained how the supposedly authentic black culture seen in so many inner cities was actually inspired by the lower class white culture of the south. He has an excellent ability to explain powerful concepts in clear and concise language. I employ his discussion of the Hawley Smoot tariff to teach my students about the Great Depression. I especially enjoy his books on economics where he discusses why price controls lower quality and affordable laws make things unaffordable. He recently retired and the National Review has been republishing many of his weekly columns.
In a recent column discussing the language around taxes he said this about the misuse of words:
"It is one of the many signs of the mindlessness of our times that all sorts of people declare that “the rich” are not paying their “fair share” in taxes, without telling us concretely what they mean by either “the rich” or “fair share.” Whether in politics or in the media, words are increasingly used, not to convey facts or even allegations of facts, but simply to arouse emotions. Undefined words are a big handicap in logic, but they are a big plus in politics, where the goal is not clarity but victory — and the votes of gullible people count just as much as the votes of people who have common sense."
Several weeks ago I wrote this about the misuse of worse as well. I was perhaps a bit nicer than I should have been in denying any malice behind the practice, (maybe I just need the cynicism that comes with years of responding to these clowns), but I also identified the misuse of words to arouse emotions:
"In the battle of competing ideas, sometimes words can be the first casualty. The abuse of the word “establishment” was so rampant during the election that I joked I should have started a restaurant with that name so I could get free advertising. All joking aside, misapplying words can muddle the debate, obscure real threats, or become a tool of hysteria.
Many of these words aren’t necessarily used with ill intent but rather as a way to illicit an emotional response and compensate for poor arguments. For example, anti-war advocates like to use the word “warmonger” to insult people or positions they don’t like without having to engage the relative merits of the proposed action."
It is very gratifying to see the same ideas that I have in the writings of others, especially such luminaries as Thomas Sowell. It helps to ease the frustration I feel when my great ideas and articles have a difficult time finding an outlet, or being noticed above the click bait trash and fake news. If you like my ideas, make sure to link to this page or check out my current writing gig at Opslens magazine. Thanks for reading!