"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Monday, May 18, 2009

Down With Newspeak

While Peggy Noonan doesn't reference Orwell in her excellent piece at the Wall Street Journal, she very well could have. Noonan is noticing the increasing use of arcane and bizarre government-invented phraseology to explain important policies to the American people. As she points out, it has the effect of making the average citizen tune out the static and ignore something, like health-care reform, that could very well change his or her life. It's dangerous and anti-democratic. Here's the end of Noonan's column:

Do members of the administration speak obscurely because they can't help themselves, or do they speak the way they speak because they really aren't all that keen to have people understand them? Maybe they calculate that lack of clarity ensures maximum ability to maneuver. But maybe they should think less about maneuvering. They're not helping the prevailing sense of national anxiety by speaking in a special lingo all their own. After all, it's not their health-care system they're reforming, it is America's. It would be nice if America were allowed to know what exactly the plan is, and how it would work, and who would pay, and how.

As for the Republicans, the administration is giving them an opening. There could be gain in becoming the party that speaks with concrete honesty, and in a known human language, on the great issues of the day. The GOP could become the party that doesn't make you translate, and doesn't leave you giving up. I wonder if the party right now, for all the battering it's experienced the past few years, is still quick enough to see an opening like this.

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