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The War on Language

These untruths -- from obtuse propaganda that men who speak out against war are not men at all, to the specific and purposeful lie that Mark Foley is a Democrat -- they don't come from thin air.
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Fox News labeled Congressman Mark Foley as a Democrat when he is, in fact, a Republican representative of Florida and has once more knowingly added to the groundswell of dishonesty . During the O'Reilly Factor, the graphic at the bottom of the screen read "Mark Foley (D-FL)" three separate times. The show is not broadcast live - it's pre-taped. When the show was repeated on air, there was no correction. Rather, there was no label at all. At the time of this writing, Fox News has not made any comment. A Google News search of "Mark Foley, D-FL" gets you several news sources reprinted through the AP, which continue to spread the lie, primarily a link to the San Jose Mercury News. The link for that paper leads you to a story about James Dobson, leader of the evangelical Christian association Focus on The Family, urging voters to judge candidates "based on their views about fighting terrorism, gay marriage and abortion." The article, which contains no news whatsoever and merely repeats Dobson's edict, correctly marks Foley as a Republican, but no one seems to have corrected the link on the Google News feed. The body of power has issued its version of the truth, and willing participants disperse it to the waiting public. This is the same public that gushes with hatred when someone even thinks to argue that their news may not be fair, might not be balanced, and might not even be news at all - just the agenda of the body in control. Don't think, just accept. Thinkers aren't patriots. Plainness is goodness. I'm just a good ol'boy. I would never lie to you.

Complexity connotes intelligence. The evolution of human intelligence is marked by the growing intricacy of the tools our prehistoric ancestors developed. These days, we continue to mark our growth by the complexity of our technology, mostly by its ability to facilitate human communication. Language, as a tool that we use not only to express ourselves, but also to expose the truth, is no different. In forming their visions of dystopic futures (or maybe even interpretations of the present) writers like Atwood, Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell all saw the distortion of human language and the destruction of our ability to communicate with one another as the first step towards the obliteration of freedom and the beginning of apocalyptic fascism.

Language, like knowledge, is power; the body that controls language controls the masses. So, when a major media outlet twists our language, uses words to distort the truth rather than to illuminate it, it is not merely a troubling incident. It is a sign that we are being broken down, that we are being systematically lied to. What's worse, we seem to be willing victims of a campaign to keep us ignorant.

Fox News is a threat to the American Republic. It has lied to us. It will lie again. It spits out what it is told to repeat. Banners with the question "DID DEMS IGNORE FOLEY E-MAILS TO PRESERVE FOLEY SEAT?" grind twisted logic into the collective conscious, breaking down nuance and meaning to serve up a Happymeal of propaganda; easily consumed, easily forgotten, perpetually repeated. While the original meaning of words may fade, their power does not. When we forget how words can be used to express, to renounce, to worship, to testify, they become broken remnants of the tools they once were and we become nothing but apes, slinging ineffectual gobbledygook at each other. This is how they like it. They want us to stop having the ability to explain what they are doing to us. They want us unable to point out each and every lie they've told. After all, if you can't explain the crime they commit, how could you ever hold them accountable? So words are quickly becoming meaningless. Irony is dying, if not already dead. We have a War on Christmas. We have Marches on Freedom. Urging For Debate becomes Weaseling Out. Intellectual Communities become French Enclaves. How, exactly, do people who don't agree with the Bush administration become French? How does a hack on a radio station latch on to such a nonsensical label? It's about picking something so indistinct that it could never be defined as categorically wrong, and then twisting its meaning to serve a purpose. Pick a hazy belief that the French were lazy and too self interested to really fight in World War II, then mix in some vaguely sexist, vaguely homophobic idea that they weren't man enough to stand up to the Nazis. Then, make sure to add that all people who stand up to you aren't man enough to stand with you. Then, in some sort of linguistic example of the transitive property, you get the dull-edged and cockamamie logic of: if the French are weak, and the people who don't support your war are weak, then the people who don't support your war, well they must be French! Start repeating this, over and over, until it's yapped back to you: "The French are weak!" "Weakness is Un-American!" and you've got yourself a tagline for the election: "John Kerry is French!"

It's complete and utter nonsense. These phrases don't actually do anything, besides reinforce the hollow reasoning of a power structure that only exists to exude more power, absolutely. These untruths -- from obtuse propaganda that men who speak out against war are not men at all, to the specific and purposeful lie that Mark Foley is a Democrat -- they don't come from thin air; they're developed, manufactured, dispersed, all for us to consume, repeated time and again until we believe it. After all, yellow didn't always mean, "Slow down"; we had to have it ingrained in us until it means nothing else.

It's the furor that arises whenever anyone questions the decrees that get spat out and repeated that troubles the most. I'm not talking about those in power. I'm talking about those of use who clamor for more, those of us who defend our Leaders against questioning, defend our right to be lied to by supporting corporations that reside firmly in the hands of those who would keep us dumb and simple. Corporations like Fox News. It is not a Chicken Little cry when someone points out that we are protecting our government's right to spy on us, to listen to our phone calls, to read our e-mails. We defend our Leader - he would never lie to us! He is our Defender! He is The Decider! In these moments, we ourselves become tools in the hands that work for our own destruction.

The Decider said it best when he said, "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." 1 If we continue to swallow what is being spoon-fed to us by the likes of Fox News, it's only a matter of time before we're yapping back, "War is peace!"