Self Serving Utterances

Today’s topic is doublespeak. Doublespeak is designed not only to confuse or fool others but one’s self as well. For example, it is common for an individual to speak of themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” This phrase feels comforting; one feels that one is up-to-date on the political tone of the times. Actually the phrase is an oxymoron. One need only say, “Put your money where your mouth is” and the fallacy reveals itself. A fiscal conservative foremost will defend the need for fiscal worth and likely will not trade that for social responsibility.

Another form of doublespeak is “do as I say, not as I do.” There are many examples. An example from the left this time, an advocate of animal rights will decry the practices of sow birthing cages and beef veal pens while enjoying their pork or veal cutlet. From the right, one advocates freedom of religion but denies that freedom to anyone who may not support their perception of religious practice.

Then there is the doublespeak professional – the politician. The late night talk shows, including FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, Comedy Central and MSNBC, had a field day with candidate policy positions before a primary and afterward. The republicans had to win the primary within extremely gerrymandered districts where the tea party held sway. If they won their primary, the candidate shifted their remarks toward the center to garner as many remaining votes as possible.

The same tactic revealed itself in politicians who decried President Obama’s policies while supporting the same legislation under President Bush. One exception is the proposed immigration reform by both Presidents that was not accepted by Congress in either administration.

The last form of doublespeak today is false advocacy. The most virulent form is the negative campaign advertisement. A candidate espouses an implied but unexplained position on policy by talking about an opponent’s errant ways. Debating in this way permits the candidate to do whatever he wants without defending his or her own policy declarations.

False advocacy is used by the individual citizen in daily conversation when the individual disagrees with another individual but will not express that disagreement. Instead, at best, a statement of faint praise is offered but clearly there is no intention of supporting the other individual. The second individual must be keen on body language to know the person does not mean what they say and is in opposition.

It is no wonder one is encouraged not to speak of politics or religion. One of the mariner’s longstanding friends is a staunch conservative. The friend knows the mariner is, well, all over the place. We never speak of fiscal or social issues which is a shame; the utterances would be self serving but even more destructive to a good friendship. It was in the post “Oneness IV” where the mariner suggested that the reader pick one of the people you know that you have difficulty relating to because of your opinion of that person. Imagine that person without letting your opinion affect you. This takes a lot of practice. You know you are doing the right thing if you can feel a growing empathy. This is an exercise coined in the phrase “walk a mile in his shoes.” What are the good characteristics that you noticed?

As a parting thought, the advocacy for freedom of religion seemed to be a “do as I say, not as I do” form of doublespeak. Does the same apply to “one person, one vote?” Is the US indeed a democracy?

Ancient Mariner


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