Sunday, August 08, 2004

Semantical Truism

Semantics, a much maligned term, as in:
"You;re only arguing Semantics..."
Of COURSE I'm arguing Semantics you idiot!
Arguing IS Semantics!

I have long pondered posts on this very subject and will return to Semantics in the future.
For now, a specific way of discerning meaning in rhetorical discourse.

I must confess that this is one of those little nuggets that is so self-evident that I honestly can't say with certainty that it had already occurred to me first and was just affirmed by outside sources or I acquired it form something I read or heard. I will readily admit that it is espoused by a well-known and highly-rated talk-show host.

Listen to what to anyone is saying with the following in mind:
They can never speak of what they have never conceived. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Witness the huge row over the latest 'Bushism' this past week:
“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Oh! The hew and cry! If I heard it once, I heard it twenty times. (I know it was more, but I do not wish to be cited for the very hyperbole I am implying. Basically, it amounted to variations on this theme:


Now, at first blush, and with absolutely no analysis, I submit it still takes an agenda-driven mind to come to this conclusion. Those with less malice of forethought, i.e. almost everybody, simply laugh it off as another of those 'wacky witticisms' that seem to erupt on occasion. The self-same talk-show host was one of many who dismissed it in this manner. Those with the anti-Bush bent immediately pointed to this willingness to give the President the benefit of a doubt as further evidence of the 'Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy' and bellowed all the louder.

Now, allow me to expand slightly on the initial statement of the principal of discernment under discussion. I give you the following:

They can never speak of/react to/anticipate/defend against/protect us from what they have never conceived.

Take a moment to re-parse President Bush's statement with this new version of the truism in mind:

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

Hmmmmm, not so stupid sounding now, is it?

The more common phrasing of this truism is more specific and biased toward a particular outcome:
They attribute to their opponent what they would do themselves.

I do not agree that this is a given. I would agree that they would, at minimum, have had to conceive of the idea, (duh!) and are certainly willing to believe their opponents would be callous enough to commit said heinous act on the poor unsuspecting populace. Were it not for the eternal vigilance of the speaker and his/her willingness to point out the venomous nature of their enemy.

At best they wish us to believe their adversary capable, nay anxious to commit the most despicable acts they can imagine. At worst they are describing the very acts they themselves would be more than willing to perpetrate, given half a chance, so the OTHER guy must be willing to do the same, right? (OK, OK, at least sub-consciously.)

So, in this case we are talking a range. A kind of plus or minus factor but more of a minus some to minus a LOT factor would be more accurate.

Keeping that in mind, I shall relate an interchange I heard on Fox yesterday afternoon. (Yes, I am one of THOSE people.)

The subject: The Nixon Resignation.

Yes fans, today, August 8th, 1974, tricky Dick left the office rather than face impeachment.
The pent-ultimate moment in one of two pivotal events of the Baby-Boomer generation.
Say what you will about the man, he did not sully the office by actually committing a crime personally (say perjury) and he left it in some of the most capable hands ever to sit in the big chair.

The Fox news-analysts were earnestly discussing the events back in the day and whether such glorious news reportage could still occur.

The token flaming liberal (he/she is SO easy to spot on Fox) stated the following:
"In today's world, with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and his Ilk, a Republican President could murder someone on National Television and get away with it."

Now, first of all, I think it very notable that he could make such a statement, including Fox in the 'conspiracy' while appearing on Fox. Is this not a First Amendment testimony? Would George Will be given the same liberty on ABC? (Of course Will is to sane to ever test this theory, but still...)

But consider, this is not an unusual statement nowadays. In fact, this is more the rule than the exception. Hell, the front-runner in the early primaries, the candidate that the majority of delegates to the recently held Democrat love-fest in Boston probably WISH WAS their final choice, spouts this kind of bilge all the time.

And once you start looking at the loonie's statement in light of the subject we have been discussing, what exactly does this say about the 'main-stream left'? The 'hard-line progressives' are want to make such statements and deem them as not only justified, but as TRUE.

What does this say about THEM?

That dear reader, I leave to you.


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