Showing posts with label The Language of the Debate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Language of the Debate. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Language of the Debate (9)

Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor, a Romanian-born Jewish political activist who authored over fifty books and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. He died in 2016. In January 1968, he published a memoir in which he shared memorable encounters with “sages, mystics, teachers, and dreamers”.

Wiesel was not the earliest media figure to water down the concept of truth and make redundancies like “objective truth” an unfortunate necessity, but if you thought the problem originated with Jordan Peterson and his ilk, this 55-year old excerpt from Legends of Our Time may serve as a wake-up call. Satan has been working away at the meaning of words since the beginning of human history, and he has his cat’s-paws in every generation. Elie Wiesel, for all his creditable moments, was one of these.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Language of the Debate (8)

With respect to politics, the terms “left” and “right” have been in modern circulation since the French Revolution. Depending who is using them, the terms have traditionally been a cheap and easy way to describe the two sides in the conflicts between individualism and collectivism, liberty and authoritarianism, or conservatism and liberalism, bearing in mind that both sides exist on a spectrum.

That spectrum means terms like “far-right” and “far-left” had to be coined to designate the extremes of each position.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Language of the Debate (7)

When a 28-year old former student who identified as a man shot and killed six people, including three nine-year olds, at a private Christian academy in Nashville the last week of March this year, more than a few media outlets took the unusual step of discreetly numbering the killer among the victims. Follow-up reporting on the tragedy chose to heavily emphasize the broader issue of gun violence rather than dwelling on the specific nature of the shooter’s mental and emotional difficulties. Audrey Hale left behind a manifesto rather than a suicide note, which to date has been quietly suppressed. Three days later, with impeccable timing, Joe Biden opined that “Transgender people shape our nation’s soul.”

Point made. When people from a protected class do wicked things, society treats them differently.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Language of the Debate (6)

Yesterday’s post introduced the expression “The Right’s Cancel Culture”. It comes from an opinion piece at in which journalist Chris Rufo is taken to task for his ongoing campaign to inform people that Disney is promoting the LGBTQ+ cause and that your poor kids don’t deserve to have new Disney propaganda inflicted on them.

Apparently telling the truth and promoting a Disney boycott from conservatives constitutes “cancelation”. So let’s talk a bit about how the expression “cancel culture” is being used and what it really means.

10. Cancel Culture

The Cambridge Dictionary defines cancel culture as “a way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you”. That seems to be a reasonable definition, and it would certainly include the efforts of a man like Chris Rufo to make fellow conservatives aware that Disney is embracing and promoting the LGBTQ+ cause, and to discourage people from putting their money into Disney product.

Thursday, February 03, 2022

The Language of the Debate (5)

[Editor’s note: Nobody ever wants to be called racist, and yet the word is everywhere these days. It also doesn’t mean what it used to mean, which means it was one of those words I planned to get to in this series eventually. All too conveniently, Immanuel Can sent me an email this week analyzing the current usage of the term (and the logic behind the change in meaning) better than I might. I have reproduced it below.

Trust you enjoy it. — Tom]

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Language of the Debate (4)

Professional magicians refer to the art of misdirection as “attention management”. I like that. The basic idea is to direct the eyes of one’s audience to one thing so they do not notice another.

That pretty much sums up how the word antisemitism is being used today. It has become the favorite attention management device of con artists and people with unsavory agendas.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Language of the Debate (3)

You have three seconds to answer: What’s the opposite of egalitarianism?

Three ... two ... one ... okay, all guesses should be in now. If your answer was “complementarianism”, my first thought is that maybe you’ve been spending too much time in the Recently Released section of your local LifeWay or Family Christian Bookstore — except both those chains went belly-up in the last four years and it doesn’t look like anyone is stepping up to fill their shoes. I guess maybe you could be Reformed ...

Here’s a crazy thought: the opposite of egalitarianism just might be biblical headship. Now there’s a dusty old concept.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Language of the Debate (2)

The Christian media urgently wants Christians to stop believing — and even more importantly, to stop circulating — what it calls “conspiracy theories”. I previously came across and responded to one of the earliest of these calls to cease and desist back in September of last year, and lo and behold, here are a whole bunch more folks writing almost exactly the same thing Aaron Brake wrote at Stand to Reason, and maybe even more so.

Interfaith Now says Christians “have to do better”. says, “Let’s unite together in spreading God’s truth, not rumors!” Relevant magazine argues that Christians only believe in “conspiracies” because they need to feel like they are in control. Christianity Today insists, “Gullibility is not a spiritual gift.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Language of the Debate (1)

“Language matters because whoever controls the words controls the conversation, because whoever controls the conversation controls its outcome, because whoever frames the debate has already won it.” So says writer Erica Jong, though we should probably give George Orwell credit for the underlying concept.

Sad to say, debate is very much out of fashion in the world these days. Online or in the streets, we go straight from perceived outrage to mob rule with very little in between other than furious accusation, name-calling and intimidation. The time from the trigger event to the full-blown social media blame-and-shame frenzy may be measured in minutes. One errant tweet on a plane and you may find yourself disemployed by the time you hit customs. Be assured no discussion will be had.

Thankfully, that is not the way Christians do things. Not yet anyway.