Friday, September 12, 2008


Sorry friends, but this one is political in part, so cover your eyes if you don't appreciate "liberal scum" like me.

-This post is by Mark + Zena

Euphemisms are an everyday linguistic device. I use them a lot because I'm a naturally encouraging kind of person who verbally nudges people towards optimism and hope - Ha! But I also have a tendency to oversell the high points of a situation that might otherwise be typical, or even bad.

Take McDonald's food for example. Oh, I don't "euphe-o-mize" their food, but truly they are always sticking to this linguistic device in an attempt to suck in those-who-know-better to try their newly introduced items. Like in this McSkillet Burrito commercial, the operative adjectives are found at "...goodness of a Sunday Morning breakfast in a..."

I think you see what I mean. Words like "home style" being used as an adjective - What is that supposed to mean?

It's almost like there is some unspoken rule about food advertising that new products need a minimum of three adjectives describing them: "A home style, sit-down, Sunday Morning breakfast, hand-wrapped to go"

It's like when a Beer commercial stresses "superior drinkability"- do they have nothing else to exclaim?

Recently, we've noticed Pizza Hut and Hardee's taking a similar approach with their advertising, doing hidden camera spots inside "real restaurants", to market their "tuscani"-pasta dishes and $6 gourmet burgers respectively. Both play on the idea that they aren't real restaurants themselves, except Pizza Hut has the boldness to exclaim their new product is "restaurant quality". I can hardly call that a euphemism when it's so self-deprecating.

George Carlin's piece "advertising" is a brilliant take on language and euphemisms which will further my point.

The most dangerous euphemisms however are political. Politicians love to substitute a euphemism to muddy the waters of a debate or make themselves feel better about taking a hideously wrong position.

Jon Stewart explains some of the bigger political euphemisms of the Bush administration in this clip from early August when the Bush administration was trying to negotiate an "aspirational time horizon" with Iraq - not a timetable for withdrawal.

The idea is to create confusion in the populous, most people don't look deeper. Also, even after giving the order to do so, W can ask his legal counsel to write the laws, redefine and rename the procedures, and thus create plausible deniability - Water boarding may be torture, or maybe not. So George Bush can continue to say publicly "we don't torture", while knowingly giving the Geneva Conventions a big middle finger.

- Trust me, waterboarding is torture

"But these are terrorists, these are people who tried to kill Americans and who want to do us harm!"

If you believe this, then maybe you don't care that our country tortures captive prisoners. However, on many occasions prisoners have been released, innocent of any connection to Al Qaeda, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which is why in our own country, until the passage of the Patriot Act (another euphemism for a bogus law), we upheld the writ of Habeus Corpus to protect people from wrongful imprisonment.

After seeing "The Road to Guantanamo", which chronicles the captivity at Guantanamo of 3 British citizens who were in Afghanistan for a wedding shortly after 9/11 and were captured while fleeing from the country as it was bombed, I realized what's most at stake. They had ID on them, but were held for 2 years, interrogated regularly, and then finally released without charge.

When we do to our prisoners that which China would do, we lose our moral authority in the world and let all other countries we might otherwise hold accountable off the hook. It creates an international ripple that allows Syria, Lebanon, and more to say to themselves "Well, the US did it, so why can't we?" It's very simple, if we don't hold ourselves to a standard, how can we ask that of others. Ex: where does the lack of moral authority come from in this quote?

This is all besides the fact that torture gives us terrible information and breeds more hatred towards our nation. It's really a no-brainer, further proof that there is plausible deniability for the existence of a brain in the Bush administration.

Why was Nixon impeached? And something so egregious as the complete dismantling of this major legal principle isn't enough for George Bush to rot in jail?--- Yet, mind you, because torture breaks international law, and no Presidential pardon can save this administration from another country which should choose to prosecute -- (Somebody please?)

Thank God that, at least on this one issue, John McCain is different from the Bush administration. It goes without saying that Barack Obama, a constitutional lawyer and law professor, understands what's at stake fully and completely.


Logan said...

For a more humorous slant on the use of euphemisms, see George Carlin's work. After all, he's not "dead." He just "bought the farm," "kicked the bucket," or rather more pleasently "passed on." Or just passed, like wind or a bus. But we all sleep well knowing "he's in a better place." If you do contact his maggot filled corpse, have him send me a thank-you letter.

Anonymous said...

Nixon was NOT impeached.