This is a real dog whistle. But what do people mean when they refer to speech as a “dog whistle”?
In politics, a dog whistle is the use of coded or suggestive language in political messaging to garner support from a particular group without provoking opposition. The concept is named for ultrasonic dog whistles, which are audible to dogs but not humans.
The dictionary site www.ludwig.guru defines by example: When political parties have policies that will appeal to racists while not being overtly racist, they are indulging in dog-whistle politics.
As with any religion, the p.c. folks make it up as they go along. Self-appointed experts decide that yet another word or symbol – in this case, a picture – is a “trigger.” The cancer of political correctness advances, one word at a time.
se•mi•ot•ics, noun, the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
Ordinarily I would not be much interested in the race for San Jose (CA) City Council. But Chris Escher of OpportunityNow, a San Jose-based website for entrepreneurs, sent me some campaign flyers and public reactions to them and asked for my reaction
Racism is where you seek it full post
(531 words, 1 image, estimated 2:07 mins reading time)
How often are individuals deprived of their rights because they didn’t really understand the Miranda warning?
In an earlier post, I offered some reasons why the Miranda warning, an 89-word text recited in less than a minute, is so often misunderstood, with the result that defendants give up rights they didn’t know they had.
A summary of the obstacles (many of which occur simultaneously):
- Contains several complexities in vocabulary, grammatical structure
- Calls upon analytic/synthetic, appropriate-response (as opposed to interactive) skills.
- Confuses sequence of events – remain silent, have a lawyer present
A dictionary reports equivalencies. A “racial equity glossary” dictates them.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
From Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” (1871)
Recently, OpportunityNow, a San Jose-based website/resource for entrepreneurs, invited me to comment on the City of San Jose’s Racial Equity Glossary.
Here’s what I sent them:
As with any religion, the p.c. folks make it up as they go along. Self-appointed experts decide that yet another word – in this case, a word in a different language! – is a “trigger.” The cancer of political correctness advances, one word at a time.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
— George Orwell
In these times of language abuse and language control – when a Supreme Court nominee cannot define “woman” (because she is so politically compromised) – I must once again note that manufactured offense knows no limits. There is no end to it, even though it crosses the bounds of commonsense and reason.
“Defense Department” or “War Department”? Repetition breeds acceptance. But what part of America are these soldiers “defending”?
“The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often.”
Paul Josef Goebbels
The quote is from the man who served as Hitler’s Propaganda Minister and who (BTW, he was a linguist like me, with a doctorate in philology) would today feel quite at home in a PR or ad firm, or at the CIA or a related secret agency, or at one of the big tech companies.
Somewhere in this word cloud is “comment on language abuses in public discourse” and “resist political attempts at language and thought control.”
Nothing happens without language, and in the current social turmoil, one side is blatantly attempting control through language.
Linguists remain silent..
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
- – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Political speech relies on verbal manipulation, one prominent example: impersonal language that avoids assigning (or taking) responsibility.
“Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, a retired rear admiral, recently said that during the long U.S. undertaking in Afghanistan ‘the goals did migrate over time.’ Did the goals themselves have agency – minds of their own?”
When I listen to or read the speech of the people who represent the government and the military-industrial complex, I hear impersonal language and, typically, malicious obfuscation. By that I mean that they speak, as bureaucrats and politicians always have, in terms that, because people on the receiving end rarely subject them to critical scrutiny, are accepted at face value, though a moment’s consideration reveals how devious and deceptive they are.
Linguistics consists of many sub-disciplines, all devoted to the study of language.
“Linguistics is virtually invisible to most people…”
— Roger Shuy, Language Crimes, 1996
“Critical Race Theory” is not going away. Although the slogan is heard almost everywhere in academia and education, almost no one inquires into what it actually means in practice.
It means a lot of different things, which is a good thing for its adherents and practitioners because, they can do anything they want in the name of this impressive- sounding undertaking.
It takes courage and clear thinking to question the all-pervasive indoctrination of Critical Race Theory. But what does the phrase actually mean?
As there is now an inexorable push to make Critical Race Theory a required part of America’s educational system, pushback is required. Kudos to Andrew Gutman, the Brearly (NY) School father who stood up, in no uncertain terms, to the relentless indoctrination to which his kid had been subjected (for $50,000+/year).
As Candace Owens notes, CRT is a double poison, taking time from teaching academic skills and at the same time producing a generation of non-thinking, malleable sheep.
It takes courage and clear thinking to resist the liberal preoccupation with racial/gender preference and language control.
[In George Orwell’s 1984] Syme [a Party official] encourages Winston to recognize that the ‘whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought’. He explains that ‘in the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.’ Syme refers to the fact that individual thought, rebellious or ‘unorthodox’ thoughts will be impossible and so, too, will the true concept of individual freedom. Each concept will be expressed in just ‘one’ word. Any ‘subsidiary’ meanings will be rubbed out and forgotten. (55).The party controls the mind through the control of language (Newspeak), the control of history (the past) and the control of war/ enemies, [via] the process of DoubleThink.
Latest language crime: “equity” full post
(908 words, 1 image, estimated 3:38 mins reading time)
Philip Roth produced a tremendous volume of work, on a machine like this. In “The Anatomy Lesson,” he writes of a man tortured by neck pain – possibly from all the typewriting.
“He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach – that it makes no sense.”
“You put too much stock in human intelligence, it doesn’t annihilate human nature.”
― American Pastoral
A prophet of political correctness
One of my favorite authors, Philip Roth, died recently, leaving a magnificent body of work. Unlike other personal faves, Saul Bellow and Bernard Malamud, who composed mostly in the key of J (for “Jewish”; Malamud’s The Natural is an exception), Roth’s versatility was truly impressive.
Our society is divided by many conflicting forces, but two of them are in our face almost all the time, roiling America like the whirling blades of the old MixMaster – and causing just as much confusion.
Both are related to the field in which I was trained – linguistics. Both center on language – not surprising, since language is a multi-purpose tool without which we would not be human.
I think of them as two mega-issues, each with a constellation of sub- and intersecting issues.
1. Hate speech and fighting words
The weaponization of language full post
(1167 words, 1 image, estimated 4:40 mins reading time)