Re: "Like Minded People"
From: Kay Argyle (argylemines.utah.edu)
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 13:01:57 -0600 (MDT)
> does this
> phrase ["like-minded people"] have this meaning for anyone else? Or 
only those of us who were in or
> near the Deep South during those times and learned to understand the
> double-speak of "polite" conservatives.
> 
> Sharon.

I'm reminded of the time Jesse Jackson was visiting Muammar Qaddafi or
something, and Orrin Hatch said, "Let's call a spade a spade," before
adding something blunt about the inappropriateness of his behavior. 
Everyone was very indignant about this "racial slur."  I was saying "Whuh? 
Did I miss something?  I heard what he said, where's the racial slur?"

As in the story "Rumpelstiltskin" and the novel 1984 (whence the term
"doublespeak"), words give power over the things they name.  The first step
in controlling something is naming it.  Renaming is a useful way of putting
a thing on the defensive (e.g., so-called "partial birth abortion"). 
Better yet is making a name into a bad word ("witch," "liberal").  If you
control the words and their meanings, you control the debate.

Gresham's Law (formulated by Copernicus, misattributed to Gresham) states,
"Bad money drives out good."  In language as in economics, coded meanings
and euphemistic or figurative usage -- counterfeits -- devalue authentic
meaning.  Or you could think of it in analogy to contamination.  Words
become toxic, unclean, unfit for their prior use. "Family values," "gay"
.  Even "American" becomes a code word for conservative ideology.

I don't see why we should, without a struggle, let people misappropriate
perfectly sound words for their own ends, destroying the word's utility for
expressing its neutral, literal meaning (as has happened to the word
"literal" itself -- "He literally exploded!"  Really?  He went splat all
over? -- It's become a meaningless intensifier) and robbing the rest of us
of the word and everything that could have been said with it -- silencing
us.

To avoid using a term such as "like-minded" to say exactly what it says --
people who think alike on some subject, as given in the context -- for fear
that people might make unfounded out-of-context assumptions about what we
_really_ mean, is to give a victory to the forces of ignorance and
thought-control.

Kay Argyle
Wasatch Commons
SLC

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