RESTRICTING LANGUAGE

Language is a wonderful construct, especially that Queen of languages, English. It is not for nothing that the greatest contributions to world culture emerging from English speaking nations have been literary. We may not be all that good at splattering paint on canvas or chipping away at marble, which perhaps explains Britart, but we are good with words.

However, as with all good things there is a dark side. Language, a tool for expressing and exchanging ideas can also be used for shutting down thought and speech. This is the particular genius of progressives, they have treated Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four as an instruction manual instead of a warning against Stalinist thought control.

Younger readers may find this hard to believe but there was a time when if someone told you that you were a discriminating person you would have been pleased at the compliment. Discrimination meant discernment, the ability to tell the difference between good and bad, helpful and harmful, ugly and beautiful, truth and error. Today it is code for a person who has just crawled out from under a rock where he had gone to adjust his swastika armband.

Discrimination has become as toxic as that other no-no, prejudice. Yet prejudice is a useful attribute which we all employ, it saves not only time but a great deal of aggro. Everyone is prejudiced for the simple reason that prejudging is a socially useful cognitive function. You make observations based on experience and live by them until proven otherwise.

It is prejudice, or prejudging a situation and people, which prevents one from going into certain pubs in the Gallowgate in Glasgow where the patrons are all wearing green scarves and starting to praise Rangers FC. It may just be within the bounds of possibility that the assembled Celtic FC supporters would greet one with bonhomie and joviality and be eager to swap merry quips about the sportsmanlike qualities of those fine upstanding chaps who play in blue. Then again it may not.

For those outwith Scotland, football in Glasgow is inextricably, and often violently, linked with religion. In the illustration above, and its reverse, prejudice is not an example of sectarianism it is an example of common sense, something lacking in progressive circles. Prejudging a situation can be not only useful but necessary.

Likewise judging people, far from being labelled a dangerously harmful attitude was once considered a necessity if you were not going to be ripped off or generally taken advantage of. To lack judgement meant that you couldn’t be trusted to be in charge of a water pistol. Since time immemorial judgement has been seen as the basic building block of wisdom and a signifier of maturity.

Martin Luther King, Jr, famously dreamed of the day when his children would “not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We focus on the first part of that statement, but the second part is important also: didn’t Dr King have an expectation that we would have standards and that we would judge people by them?

Today judgement is no longer a desirable attribute, rather it is seen as malign. Employing judgement, or being ‘judgemental’ as it is usually termed, is to be avoided wherever possible. Instead we are urged to put judgement aside and be more empathetic. The big drawback with this attitude of never mind the facts feel the emotion is that it leaves us wide open to all those things which might harm us and those whom we love.

Tolerance is seen by progressives as the  mark of the well integrated individual, which is an incredibly dangerous attitude. Blanket, non-judgemental tolerance is harmful to society. Genuine tolerance demands judgement and discrimination because there are things and people of whom we should not be tolerant. Progressives with their blanket tolerance end up with the inanity of demanding tolerance for those who are themselves rabidly and dangerously intolerant. In doing so they end up righteously endorsing sexism, homophobia, inequality and the very intolerance they fear.

What progressives do is take a word with a perfectly good even positive meaning, select a few extreme examples of its dreadful misuse and forever ban use of the word except in a pejorative sense. This restricts not only the use of language but the thought process behind the word. As Wittgenstein told us, “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.

By hijacking these and other words progressives infantalise the rest of us and ensure that we are dependent upon them to tell us what we should think and value. By their manipulation of language progressives have become the arbiters of right and what is wrong. As Joseph Stalin said, “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”

As Grain is about to go to Inverness for a few days this will be the last posting for a week or so. Those wishing to condemn me, point out my Neanderthal tendencies, or otherwise blow off steam, please hold your fire until Grain returns.

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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One Response to RESTRICTING LANGUAGE

  1. John Allman says:

    I’ve thought of another example of the impoverishment of the language. Do you remember when the word “progressive” was often used to convey the idea of improvement?

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