Who controls the language? 

Who controls the language? 

Opinion Board of Contributors

By John Mallon


THIS quote is attributed to Joseph Stalin, Josef Goebbels and assorted other tyrants: "He who controls the language rules the world." 

Many other such quotes reveal with remarkable candor how tyrants think, and we ought to learn from them to avoid the horrible bloodbaths of the past. Another quote, attributed to Hitler and others: "If you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it." Or, "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic." 

I am deeply suspicious of neologisms, that is, newly coined words floated into the lexicon that are often snapped up by those who want their speech to reflect the latest trends. They tend to replace perfectly good words that have served well for centuries. For example, have you noticed that everything now is a "center"? Instead of hospitals, we have health centers. Instead of schools, we have learning centers. Instead of chanceries, we have pastoral centers, and one of my favorites, "sanitary landfill and recycling center." I'll never forget how years ago my brother and I were driving into one such place with a load of trash, and upon seeing the sign, he turned to me and said, "Whatever happened to 'dump' "? 

Well, these seem harmless enough. But I recall it caught my notice when a big deal was made in my workplace during the 1980s. The personnel office was changing its name to "human resources." On the surface it might seem these unnecessary name changes were supposed to reflect a certain "sensitivity" in a society ever more under orders from the invisible but ever-present sensitivity police to always wear its "sensitivity" on its sleeve. But it seemed dehumanizing to me. I would much rather be considered a person than a mere "resource." With the vague miasma of euphemism in the air today, "resources" is frequently used when it seems impolite to say money. 

Last August I was hanging out in the gallery of the United Nations General Assembly with my pal Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. A young lady sitting next to him said, "Who's that?" indicating a Catholic cardinal down on the floor. Austin snapped, "That's Cardinal Arinze from Africa, he's on the short list to be pope." I was sitting behind them, and they are lucky I wasn't drinking something or I would have done a spectacular spit take drenching them both. I shrieked, "Oh my God! I can't believe you just said that! That's ridiculous!" 

I didn't mean Cardinal Arinze, who would make a fine pope if God so willed, but Austin's use of the term "short list," which magically appeared out of nowhere among pundits during the election season. Austin looked into the eyes of the young woman and said, "I love jargon. I love it." I said, "I hate it! Because it often is employed to deceive rather than communicate clearly, or make others feel inadequate while you're in with the In Crowd." 

Worst of all, of course, and most illustrative of my point are the terms "gender" and "choice." Gender is an ideological term to mainstream artificial sexual ideology into the culture. Depending on who you talk to there are five or even seven "genders" -- and counting. 

In nature there are only two sexes. The generation that demanded their cereal be all natural pumps large doses of artificiality into their politics and sexuality. Sex is better than gender. The term "choice" attempts to apply God-given free will to a thoroughly evil act of murder. 

So one death is a tragedy. Forty million is a statistic, or in other words, tyranny. 

Mallon is a member of the Opinion Board of Contributors for The Oklahoman. 

The opinions of the writer are not necessarily those of The Oklahoman. 


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