Liberal Linguistic Lies

I have long believed that a key component of the left’s political success over the last century has been its masterful use of deceptive language to frame both issues and their own political positions in ways that make them much more palatable to an unthinking public than they otherwise would be if they were presented more honestly. Indeed, even the use of the term “liberal” to characterize themselves is a bit of a deception in historic terms, since liberal originally indicated someone who favored free trade and limited government, quite the opposite of what liberals have now become. Anyway, with that in mind, I have cobbled together a list of common liberal linguistic lies of our modern age. Feel free to add to the list.

1. Women’s Health – When liberals speak about “women’s health” in a political context, they aren’t really talking about the health of women. They are actually speaking about abortion. So when someone says, for example, that “It’s time to remove politics from women’s health care”, what they really mean is “Abortion should be legal and immune to the processes of democracy.”

2. Reproductive rights/freedom – Like “women’s health”, this is just another liberal euphemism for abortion. Which is a bit bizarre if you think about it, because, if one did not already possess the freedom/right to reproduce, how could one possibly be in a position to need/want an abortion?

3. Marriage Equality – We’ve talked about this one extensively here at ATiM in the past. “Marriage equality” actually has nothing do with equal rights to marry, as liberals try to deceive us into believing, but is instead a call for changing the very definition of marriage from what it has always been to something new such that it can encompass homosexual relationships. Throughout US history homosexuals have always had the very same right to marry someone of the opposite sex that heterosexuals have had. But what they want is a new right, namely the right to “marry” someone of the same sex. Since, due to the very meaning of the term “marriage”, no one, not even heterosexuals, has ever had that right ever before in the US, what they want is not “equality” but rather a new conception of the notion of marriage.

4. War on (fill in the blank) – When liberals say that someone is engaging in a War on X, they don’t mean that one is literally or even figuratively waging a war on X. They simply mean that the person disagrees with them over some political issue that is really important to them. And often the issue isn’t even related to X. For example, the War on Women usually refers to just advocacy for stricter abortion laws. When Obama spoke of Bush’s War on Science, what he really meant was that he had a moral/ethical disagreement with regard to what the government should be funding.

5. Deny – The other day, following SCOTUS’ Hobby Lobby decision, Democrat Elizabeth Warren characterized the decision as giving corporations the power to “deny their employees access to birth control.” Of course the court gave no such power to “deny access” to anything at all. What she actually meant was that the court recognized that certain corporation owners have the right not to have to pay for certain kinds of birth control that are, nonetheless, still legally accessible to their employees. And this is not an isolated instance of such an idiosyncratic use of the term “deny” by liberals. For example, if one thinks that the government shouldn’t dictate what an employer has to pay employees, then one wants to “deny equal pay to women”.

6. invest/subsidize – Liberals often use the word “investment” when what they actually mean is “subsidy”, and then they use “subsidize” when what they actually mean is “not force to pay more money”. So when the government gives money or guarantees to companies like Solyndra and Tesla, it is “investing”, but when doesn’t raise the minimum wage, it is “subsidizing” corporations.

14 Responses

  1. Nice piece but disagreement, “War on X” has, unfortunately a long bipartisan pedigree. War on drugs, terror, etc.

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  2. I would add “tax expenditure” to the list – implying that a corporation paying less tax than liberals want is somehow “spending.” And therefore the way to “cut spending” is to stop tax expenditures, which is really just raising taxes.

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  3. “Tax cuts for the rich” – implying that when we cut taxes we only cut them for the rich and not for everyone.

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    • Two good ones, Brent, especially “tax expenditure”, which is pretty much an oxymoron, taxation being by definition government revenues, not expenditures.

      And remember when Bush cut taxes in ’02 it was derided by the left as “tax cuts for the rich”, but then when those exact same cuts were about to expire in 2012, we were told that it would hit the poor and middle class particularly hard, which is why they should only expire for the rich?

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  4. The inevitable distancing has begun. Thomas “What’s the Matter with Kansas” Franks is tasked with breaking the ice.

    For my money, they should be carved in stone over the entrance to his monument: Barack Obama as the one-man rescue squad for an economic order that had aroused the fury of the world. Better: Obama as the awesomely talented doctor who kept the corpse of a dead philosophy lumbering along despite it all.

    It goes downhill from there, bitter recriminations, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Who among does not recall with fondness the Office of the President Elect?

    On the up side, those days before his first term began were undoubtedly Obama’s best ones.

    http://www.salon.com/2014/07/20/right_wing_obstruction_could_have_been_fought_an_ineffective_and_gutless_presidencys_legacy_is_failure/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

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  5. Are we assuming that those on the left don’t have a philosophical orientation that makes their choice of language just seem accurate, to them? That they are of a philosophical bend that sees a corporation not being forced to cover contraception for it’s employees as denial of a positive right? That subsidies for people not doing much of anything (by choice or by necessity) is, truly, an investment?

    I think most of this language may be polished or group-tested for consumption by campaign managers and advocates for certain legislation. But I think most on the left use the language because they believe redefining marriage (to, lets be honest, include a narrow group of people, not extend marriage universally to everyone in any form they choose) is marriage equality, and that marriage has never been equal, until now.

    Given how they view the issues, implicit in what they are advocating for, I think they would tend to see their descriptions as accurate.

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    • Kevin:

      Are we assuming that those on the left don’t have a philosophical orientation that makes their choice of language just seem accurate, to them?

      Is this the George Costanza defense, ie it isn’t a lie if you believe it? Anyway, I am assuming that words have an objective meaning, regardless of what they may “seem” to mean to a political advocate.

      Given how they view the issues, implicit in what they are advocating for, I think they would tend to see their descriptions as accurate.

      Perhaps, but if so, they would be wrong. And frankly I think people who use this kind of deceptive language fall primarily into two categories. One, professional advocates who are deliberately framing issues in deceptive ways in order to fool unthinking people into supporting their position, and two, those same unthinking people who are targets and victims of of that framing.

      It may “seem” to Elizabeth Warren that the corporations are “denying” their employees access to contraception, but it isn’t true. And while I can’t prove that she isn’t so stupid as to actually believe what she says, I’m pretty sure she isn’t, and even if she is I’m not sure that’s a whole lot better than thinking she lied.

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    • With all due respect, it is naive at best to think that people clamoring to redefine marriage honestly believe, based on some reasoning process, that marriage had never been equal. 95% just arrived at their position in the past two years, mostly from watching sitcoms and following Obama’s cynical lead. Not one of them can even give a defensible definition of marriage. Not one. They adopted the Orwellian “marriage equality” as straight-up propaganda.

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  6. @ScottC: “Perhaps, but if so, they would be wrong”

    I concur. Just as if you believe there’s a fat guy in red at the North Pole who brings you presents on Christmas, you’re wrong. And of course words have objective(ish) meanings, but people are pattern finders and want to make sense of things, which means we tend to conform everything to templates, as our templates grow and take shape. So we move from simple objective meanings to more complicated “objective” meanings, usually leaving out critical modifiers (say, “contribution” for a tax is accurate, as far as it goes, but is missing the critical modifier “involuntary”, and even then, you can stretch the argument that you’re volunteering to pay taxes by living in a community, thus all taxes are charitable contributions you decide to give to the state by your choice of where you live . . . which is a little like saying you agreed to pay the mob $1000 a week by where you chose to locate your restaurant, but I digress).

    The point being, it’s not always a conscious effort to twist the language, and if fact I think the more permanent examples are used by people who believe they are accurate. I realize there are people out there who almost certainly crafted terms like “marriage equality”, but the vast majority of people believe that same-sex marriage is marriage equality in some meaningful sense, and that the lack of it creates inequality, because, you know, conservatives are bad and hate love.

    ” And while I can’t prove that she isn’t so stupid as to actually believe what she says”

    It may be picking nits, but while I’m pretty sure she understands that Hobby Lobby isn’t physically restraining employees from purchasing contraception, or in fact limiting their contraception choice in any meaningful way, I think she equates Big Business not providing everything possible for their employees is a form of denial. Which, in terms of healthcare, means we will eventually have to go single payer, to get around these evil corporations who want to deny their employees (especially the women employees, because they hate them) healthcare.

    I’m pretty sure the people who have characterized the “Hobby Lobby” case as a company denying women healthcare know that there is more to healthcare than the Morning After Pill and IUDs.

    And it’s not “lying”! It’s . . . rhetoric!

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    • Kevin:

      …people are pattern finders and want to make sense of things…

      Notwithstanding the existence of progressives.

      The point being, it’s not always a conscious effort to twist the language, and if fact I think the more permanent examples are used by people who believe they are accurate.

      True enough. There a lot of people who just unthinkingly accept such language as accurate, either because they don’t want to bother thinking about it or because it seems to justify their own political preferences. Still, I think the spinners and handlers and group-testers who craft this language know that they are untrue.

      It may be picking nits, but while I’m pretty sure she understands that Hobby Lobby isn’t physically restraining employees from purchasing contraception, or in fact limiting their contraception choice in any meaningful way, I think she equates Big Business not providing everything possible for their employees is a form of denial.

      I doubt that is true. I find it unlikely she either believes or would ever claim that, say, corporations are denying their employees access to a Rolls Royce simply because they don’t pay for it. Nor does she believe that corporations are denying their employees access to cars in general simply because they don’t pay for their car insurance.

      At some point assuming that obviously false language has been used in good faith, especially by politicians, moves from being generous to being naive. I think Warren knew exactly what she was doing when she said what she said, and she did it intentionally. She’s an unconscionable liar.

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  7. One last one – “in a country as rich as ours…” Typically used as: “In a country as rich as ours, we should be able to provide healthcare to everyone.” The “country” isn’t rich – some of the people in this country are rich. Honestly rephrased, the statement should read: “In a country with as many wealthy people as we have, why can’t we compel them to pay for health care for everyone?”

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  8. I just say that “marriage is a sacrament. the government isn’t changing the meaning of that. ….yet. how we dispose of assets is a separate issue”

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  9. Also, as an aside — we talked a ton about language and word choice in journalism school. one of the key points was “if an interest group is pushing a word choice/change, proceed with extreme caution. strive for clarity”

    i got into years ago with an editor (post college) about illegal vs. undocumented.

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