On a Facebook Comment Worth Preserving

One of the problems with political discourse today is that those on the right and the left not only see the world differently but they talk about the world differently. Words have different meanings on the left and the right.

A friend, one that has, in my view, gone unfortunately off the deep end into batshit territory, posted a link to an article by David Limbaugh that railed against Nancy Pelosi’s Speakership of the House, which came to a close earlier this week.

One thing that raises Limbaugh’s ire is the “socialism” of the Patient Protection Act, which Limbaugh seems to think will lead to something akin to Britain’s National Health Service or Canada’s single payer system. However, the Patient Protection Act doesn’t lead to that outcome at all; the United States will still have its system of privately administered health insurance plans, albeit with more regulations to prevent the insurance companies from excluding the poor and the unhealthy from their rolls. The federal government won’t control the health industry under the PPA; it will regulate the industry, true, but that’s a far cry from owning it as it would under a socialist system.

My friend posted just the link to Limbaugh’s editorial; he offered no editorial comment.

I posted a comment:

Does Limbaugh not realize that the PPA isn’t socialism? The government doesn’t own the health care system under the PPA. Instead, it regulates the private health care system, like it regulates other industries. Just because he calls it “socialism” doesn’t make it so.

A follow-up comment from another friend pointed out that the GOP will “continue to throw the word around for as long as it continues to galvanize a bunch of people too ignorant to know what it really means and too lazy to bother to find out.”

My follow-up to this:

But that’s no reason not to fight against the Orwellian redefinition of words that twists their meaning beyond all recognition. As I said in a comment on my own Facebook page in response to the idea that Glenn Beck has called Teddy Roosevelt “evil,” the only way that a man who fought for equality and the rights of the people against the corporatocracy that would oppress them and deprive them of a better life could be called “evil” would be to twist and redefine the word so far that it becomes meaningless. The right’s war on reality includes the battleground of linguistics, unfortunately, and that makes communication difficult if not impossible when even the meaning of words becomes a point of a contention. The right and left might as well be speaking two different languages, and unfortunately it’s the language of the right, thanks to the propaganda machine that is Fox News and right-wing talk radio, that’s winning the war of language.

I’ve run into this before. A discussion with a political science student online proved frustrating when he refused to accept the definition of a republic as a “country not ruled by a monarch.” China and Russia, in his view, could not be rightly called “republics” because they weren’t like the United States. We were speaking different languages, he and I; even though the words we used were the same, those words had entirely different meanings.

We experience the world through a filter of language. Our understanding of the world is influenced strongly by how we define the world.

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