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Watch Your Language!

October 2, 2023 Frontpage No Comments

By DEACON MIKE MANNO

                I don’t know if schools today put Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four on their reading lists or not. My guess is, probably not. But they should. If you have ever read it, you know it is known for two things: Big Brother, the omnipresent and all-powerful leader; and the language spoken, Newspeak.

                Setting Big Brother aside for a minute, I’d like to turn to Newspeak. If you recall, Newspeak was a language that was used to reinforce Big Brother’s thoughts and rules. The interesting thing about Newspeak was that it was not an entirely new language, it was a selective replacement of words and concepts that served to reinforce the teachings of Big Brother.

                In short, Newspeak was a way the government could control thought.

                I thought of that today when I read that the sainted administration of Joseph the Devout, who, in the spirit of Newspeak we might refer to as alt-catholic, has decreed that the words “mother” and “father” shall not be used in federal child-care rules. The proposal also bans the use of the words “paternity,” “his,” and “her.”

                In other words, the proposal de-genders the rules federal bureaucrats use to communicate with us. And so, in the spirit of this new proposal, we will change the term by which our dear leader has designated himself to Big Sibling.

                Anyway, the proposed rule is reported to be consistent with the recently passed Respect for Marriage Act, which was opposed by conservatives who warned of this type of outcome. Yet 12 Republicans, who should have known better, ignored the warnings and helped the Democrats pass the bill. Included in the 12, I am sorry to say, was my own senator, Joni Ernst of Iowa.  

                According to the proposal by our Big Sibling’s Office of Child Support Services, the Respect for Marriage Act “requires recognition of any marriage between two individuals that is valid where created ‘for the purposes of any federal law, rule, or regulation in which marital status is a factor’ and requires States to provide full faith and credit to marriages entered into in another State. Like the Respect for Marriage Act, this proposed rule recognizes the existence of and legal needs of diverse family structures.”

                According to our beloved Big Sibling, “mother” and “father” are to be replaced with the word “parent,” which, according to CatholicVote’s director of governmental affairs, Tom McClusky, is “an overhaul of the American family and a flashing red light for Catholics who care about the future of their country.”

                Of course, this is really only the tip of the iceberg. We have already been overburdened with the use to such terms as: Cisgender, meaning living in conformance with one’s birth sex — apparently that is no longer obvious; gender identity, a person’s self-expression of sexuality or lack of it; gender-fluid, one who moves back and forth between sexes; multi-gender, one who experiences several gender identities, or as I put it, confused as hell; non-binary, one who cannot be categorized; and the list goes on with such terms as poly-gender, third-gender, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, and we haven’t even touched the pronouns yet. 

                Just be warned here: In some places you need to know these terms, especially an individual’s pronouns and can be seriously punished for mislabeling someone. Of course, many of these lemmings try to help you out by putting their pronouns on their business cards or in the signature blocks of their letters and e-mails.

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                Speaking of language, several of our greatest freedoms are found in the First Amendment to the Constitution: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. And like the heretofore mentioned author, George Orwell, we should note another of his books, Animal Farm, where all animals are equal except some are more equal than others. 

                RealClearPolitics has just released a poll showing, among other things, “Republican voters (74 percent) and independents (61 percent) believe speech should be legal ‘under any circumstances,’ while Democrats are almost evenly divided. A bare majority of Democrats (53 percent) say speech should be legal under any circumstances, while 47 percent say it should be legal ‘only under certain circumstances’,” said Carl M. Cannon of the RCP staff.

                Troubling findings include:

                Thirty-four present of Democrats say Americans have “too much freedom,” compared to only 14 percent of Republicans. “Republicans were most likely to say Americans have too little freedom (46 percent), while only 22 percent of Democrats feel that way. Independents were in the middle in both categories,” the poll reported.

                Fifty-two percent of Democrats favored government censoring social media over national security concerns, against 33 percent for Republicans and Independents.

                Given the statement attributed to the French Enlightenment author Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” only 31 percent of Democratic voters “strongly agreed” compared to 51 percent of Republicans.

                Three-fourths of Democrats responding believe the government has a responsibility to limit “hateful” social media posts, while Republicans are more split, with only 50 percent believing the government has a responsibility to restrict hateful posts. Independents responding were in the middle between the two parties.

                “Painting with a broad brush, Democrats grant significantly more deference to government than do Republicans when it comes to regulating free speech,” Mr. Cannon reported.

                But this wasn’t the only fault line revealed by the survey. It did take into consideration the generational differences among respondents.

                “Some of what is dividing these differences is generational, as Millennials and Gen-Z have come of age in a digital age environment in which reasonable expectations of privacy seem a relic of the past. Those under 30 are most open to censorship by the government,” said Spencer Kimball who directed the survey.

                He added that 42 percent of this cohort deem it “more important” to them that the government protect national security than guard the right to free expression. Among those over 65 years old, the corresponding percentage was 26 percent.

                The survey noted another difference: gender. “Asked whether they support free speech even if it’s ‘deeply offensive,’ 78 percent of men answered affirmatively, compared to 66 percent of women,” Mr. Cannon reported.

                He continued, “On the issue of free expression…Republicans are not the authoritarian party. That distinction belongs to the Democrats, the party launched by Thomas Jefferson…who famously said that if he were forced to choose between ‘a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter’.”

                According to the report there are three likely explanations for the divergence between Republicans and Democrats: First, liberals are likely convinced of the presence of a “fact gap” and desire to clamp down on misinformation which stems from conservative circles. Second, conservatives’ reluctance to censor was based on a “value gap” in which the free marketplace of ideas, regardless of the media content. And third, “party promotion incentives,” described as “a desire to leave misinformation online that promotes one’s own party.”

                So, what does this all mean? Probably nothing more than each side is glued to its own corner. How do we become unglued and willing to look at another’s ideas? Well, that might start with schools assigning Orwell more often.

(You can reach Mike at: DeaconMike@q.com and listen to him every weekend on Faith On Trial or podcast at https://iowacatholicradio.com/faith-on-trial/)

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