This is the first installment in an irregular series, “The War on Thought.”
George Carlin gave us “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television” and you won’t see or hear them here, either. But now the trump administration has given us seven words or phrases you can’t say in budget documents. And here they are:
More specifically, these words allegedly cannot be used in budget documents circulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a report in the Washington Post. Asked about such things, the CDC’s parent agency, Health and Human Services, says “language suggestions were made.”
What could be behind this? That’s an interesting question because the answer could be we’re in even more trouble than you think. And that could mean that the zombies and dolts in our brave new world could be smarter than we think.
Look at it this way: Words are symbols of concepts they represent; shorthand. Kill the word and eventually you kill the concept. Now what interest could a bunch of politicians overseeing an agency of doctors and researchers have in concept killing?
Let’s take one of the words and follow it backward: fetus. What is a fetus? It is an agglomeration of cells that under certain conditions may (or may not) eventually turn into a living being. It’s a pretty neutral word. But if you can’t use it in a budget document on birth control or abortion, and you need to, what do you call “it?”
-An agglomeration of cells that under certain conditions may eventually turn into a living being. That’s pretty awkward.
Oh! I know! How about an “unborn baby?” If everyone uses that phrase instead of “fetus,” our whole perspective on abortion and birth control shifts to a particular political view. Maybe your view. But maybe not.
When they take away words, they take away concepts. When they take away concepts, what’s left behind is mental oatmeal and its cousin mental packing peanuts. Don’t let this happen to you.
Aaron John Oleksa (1983-2017) of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania left us this weekend after a long series of illnesses. Behind that winning and sincere smile was a heart filled with love, courage, generosity and talent.
These last years put him in a motorized wheelchair, a place no one should have to live. But to Aaron it was just another of the many punches he was forced to endure.
Now, there will be no films with his name as creator or editor; no perceptive remarks and notes. No continuation of the dialog that began a decade ago as we tried to reshape each others’ political views, but always in the spirit of brotherhood and good will. Someday, Aaron, we will continue that ten year discussion. But it’ll have to wait for now.
Goodbye, good friend. May you rest at last.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®