Language is information. Information is power. Therefore, language is power.

My wife and I are working our way through Season 2 of Killing Eve these days, and a recent episode involved Villanelle (the main character who’s not named “Eve”) conversing, in English, with a young girl in Russia. When asked why her English was so good, the kid explained that her father told her “language is information.” The child’s values and goals were set with that simple phrase.

The ability to communicate is vital to our function as human beings. The ability to communicate well is a powerful tool for personal success. Leaders and philosophers throughout history have recognized the power of language and the weight of words. George Orwell wrote at length on the matter. He is endlessly quotable. We are drawn to well-crafted speeches, essays, and statements. We learn from them, draw inspiration from them, and quote and share the best of them, to (hopefully) encourage others to the same conclusions and outcomes they inspired in us.

The lords of today’s social justice and progressive politics have figured this out, and they’ve taught their minions well, even if those minions don’t realize what it is they’ve been taught.

He who controls the language controls the masses. –- Saul Alinsky

Behold, the emergence of a metastasizing lexicon of “woke” terminology.

I saved just a handful from recent Internet perambulations: Cancelled. Asspat. Zoomer. Mayo Sapiens. Ableist. Orthorexic. Caping. AAVE. Emotional Labor. POC. Gender Assumption. Sadfishing. Black Taxes. Enby. Ratioed. Deadnaming. Queerbaiting.

There are thousands, and more are created every day. In human sexuality alone (replaced by the co-opted and redefined term “gender”) we find over a hundred new words, phrases, or portmanteaus to describe – nay – to categorize people. I find myself needing Google and Urban Dictionary to understand some of what’s written in progressive and “woke” forums.

Take note of the endless policing of what was once normal language. This morning, I saw a ridiculous post asserting that the word “chonky” is AAVE, and therefore only POC may use it.

Let me translate. “Chonky” refers to cats that are, well, chunky, either because they’re overweight or because they’re just shaped that way. AAVE is African-American Vernacular English. Its precursors are “jive” and “ebonics,” but using those terms today will get you scolded POC are People (or Persons, I simply can’t keep up) of Color.

Yes, someone asserted that white people can’t use the word “Chonky,” and the Internet reacted. The debate then raged on, as to the accuracy of chonky being AAVE, with many disputing the notion and many more mocking it. Absurd, of course. But, that such a debate happened at all is where the problem lies. People no longer make fun of those who try to use slang that doesn’t supposedly match their identity group. Instead, they attack them, and inform them that they are bigots, racists, or otherwise Bad People for doing so. The chonky debate, as nutty as it is, shows us this policing in action.

Consider the institutionalizing of opinions and viewpoints. Adele, the singer, recently posted a photo of herself after years of weight loss. One woman, who apparently crusades against negative stereotypes of obese people, decided to make Adele’s achievement about herself. The Internet didn’t care for it, and did what it does. She responded with a screed informing us all of everything that’s wrong with society.

The language used is the telltale: “Diet culture.” “Fat phobia.” “body and beauty standards” “curated a safe space online” “oppressive beauty standards.” These and more aren’t about telling us to have respect for others’ feelings, they’re about structuring a new reality where obesity is no longer considered negative. Not being a jerk to someone struggling with a weight problem is a whole lot different than trying to reorder society to assert that “overweight” isn’t a thing. This rejects the irrefutable fact that being of “normal” weight (and that word “normal” would itself earn a trigger warning were I woke) is healthier and likely to help you live longer. And, the odds are that it’ll make one happier. It also rejects the notion that we are wired to be more attracted to healthy (i.e. not-obese people, and that wiring exists for a reason) in favor of a “blank-slate” view that beauty and attraction are social constructs.

And it’s being done through language, through the coining of phrases that are meant to change an assertion into a fact. The language is intended to impose controls and restrict thinking, not liberate the oppressed.

Since I offered a trigger warning, let’s consider what those are about. We are told that, in order to say certain words or discuss certain topics, we have to inform listeners ahead of time. The joke of this is that making those warnings doesn’t actually matter. With or without them, you’re going to get scolded or “cancelled” if you dare stray into verboten words, phrases, or topics. This has gotten so nutty that some are typing “womxn” instead of “woman,” either to protest the patriarchy or to avoid exposing a reader to the “man” portion of the word. I’m sure entire doctoral theses have been written justifying this hoo-hah, but I’m not going to play in that sandbox.

Trigger warnings have, sadly, become an expected norm in certain circles. It is in those same circles that we’ll find liberal (yes, pun intended) use of other words and phrases intended to portray individual behaviors as systemic and institutional, in order to “sell past the close,” to establish, rather than assert, that certain beliefs are truisms. “Reverse racism,” we are told, does not exist. This one’s insidious, because it goes beyond the surface assertion by sneakily narrowing the definition of “racism” itself to be white-on-minority. The fact that the nation’s historical problems with racism have been white-on-black is used as a springboard to make an otherwise absurd claim, and if you challenge it, you’re going to be called names or worse. Stating that a black person can speak or act in a racist manner towards a white person is not a moral equivalence or a minimization of white-on-black racism, it’s simply a fact, assuming you don’t accept the progressives’ deliberate redefining of “racism.” It’s very easy to be lured into arguing the “past-the-close” part of the assertion, rather than sticking to the simple and correct definition of racism as “discrimination based on race.” By coining “reverse racism,” the woke-folks are doing something they do best: divide and deride.

Language evolves, and it should. New words enter our vocabulary all the time, and old ones fade from disuse. These new words (and phrases) are useful as quicker or more precise ways of communicating information… IF that’s how they’re used. If, however, they’re weaponized as means of controlling the information that others seek to share, then they serve a malign purpose.

Language evolution should also be organic, not curated by self-appointed cultural gatekeepers, who have decided what we should be permitted to say. And, more to the point, that we should not be permitted to say. Even when we’re not talking to them.

So, what are we to do while being relentlessly hectored by social justice warriors and woke-gressives? To quote a 37 year old movie, the only way to win is not to play the game. Treat individuals with the respect they earn and deserve, but don’t succumb to the language lords’ crazy (a word we’re told not to use, because it’s sexist and ableist) demands.

Yes, you’ll be called nasty names. By the people who preach tolerance and courtesy the most loudly. Irony, sadly, is one of those concepts that’s fading into oblivion. But, so what? Don’t accept the insults, or the attacks. An unaccepted gift still belongs to the giver, ditto for an unaccepted insult. If you grant no power to the insulters, give them no ability to trouble you with their words, then those words are nothing more than a fart in a wind tunnel. If you don’t value someone’s opinion, you have no reason to be bothered by it when it’s aimed at you.

The power of words is magnified when a person or group seeks to deny it for others. Alinsky’s playbook is a dirty one, full of stuff that’d be called ‘unfair’ in schoolyards and gentlemanly sport. Even as the progressives make endless noise about the unfairness in our sorta-somewhat-but-not-really capitalistic society, they are at the fore of treating others unfairly. And, they’ve ruined the word ‘fair’ in the process. Equality, a concept at the root of libertarianism, has also been ruined as a word, with re-definition as “equality of outcome” rather than “equality of opportunity” and the golden-rule ethic of treating others as you would have them treat you. This is why we must reject those who’d rewrite our lexicons. Trust yourself to know what’s right, don’t rely on someone with a power agenda to do so.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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