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In the Crosshairs of the Speech Police

January 26, 2011
Daniel Greenfield

In the weeks since the Arizona massacre, the media has revealed a preoccupation with language almost as intense as the one that motivated her shooter. Loughner’s obsession with Congresswoman Giffords seems to have begun in 2007 when she mockingly replied to his question, “How do you know words mean anything?” And Loughner’s killing spree has touched off the media’s obsession with that same question, leading a CNN anchor to apologize for using the term “crosshairs”.

It was almost as if the media had come down with a lighter version of Loughner’s fixation on grammar as a tool of mind control. If only they could properly censor the language, no one would have to die or go on shooting sprees. Somehow if we refuse to use the word ‘crosshairs’, no one will ever wind up in anyone else’s crosshairs. It’s as if the use of the word creates the idea, rather than the word being only another means of describing an idea.

But controlling language is not the same thing as controlling minds. Orwell’s 1984 depicted a totalitarian regime which controlled language in order to prevent forbidden ideas from finding expression. Since then (1948 not 1984) the left has obsessively tried to politicize language. There are entire seminars on the political uses of language. Newscasts are dotted with politically correct terminology, homeless, differently abled, custodial worker– yet has changing language actually changed attitudes?

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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