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That Which We Call A Rose

By David Grant

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg, doesn’t make it a leg.” — Abraham Lincoln

But political rhetoric would have you believe that it is not a tail but a leg. It’s time to apply the potent laxative of logic to constipated political spin. Your life (freedom) depends on it.

Skeptical? Read on.

The political correctness movement was not the beginning of linguistic spin intended to get you to first believe, then to swear that the excrement you consume is really organic delicacy.

The un-duped would say, “Egad, man. You are eating a steaming pile of dog feces!” but if you dupe enough people over enough time, dogs become the world’s most important commodity and Mastiffs the greatest breed.

Dung devourer creation is profitable enterprise. Solitarily standing in the way of obscene windfall is a skeptical populace armed with logic and motivated by freedom.

Linguistic codification, the marketing wing at Excrement Eaters Unlimited, enjoys a remarkable history of obscene profits and of death and debauchery desensitization.

Spin Tutorial

Spin takes on several forms. The two most popular are Euphemisms and Dyseuphemisms. When there is an attempt to make a word or idea sound better than it is, a euphemism is created. The opposite is true for a dyseuphemism. Here are some examples:

Insect Extermination

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn makes the case that post revolution communists co-opted euphemistic phraseology to disguise a reality that would have ensured an early end to both empire and existence for Lenin groupies. Here are some examples:

Reality:Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets. If people cause trouble, you can create peace by getting rid of them.

Euphemism:Transfer of Population or Rectification of Frontiers
Reality:Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry.

Euphemism:Elimination of Unreliable Elements
Reality:People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of Scurvy in Arctic labor camps.

Solzhenitsyn painstakingly documents several other euphemistic reality incursions. “Thus the death penalty was rechristened ‘the supreme measure’ — no longer a punishment, but a means of social defense.” (Gulag, page 436)

In 1927, the benevolent Russian Central Committee abolished capital punishment except for crimes against the state and army, including “banditry.”

In time, the revealed reality was that “every armed nationalist who doesn’t agree with the central government is a ‘bandit,’ ” and, similarly, “any participant in an urban rebellion is also a ’bandit.” (Gulag pg 436)

Lenin expressed his sinister intent from the beginning when he said, we must go about “purging the land of all kinds of harmful insects.” The “insect” classification grew progressively larger.

“Insects” included not only all class enemies but also “workers malingering at their work.”

George Douglas of the Foundation for Economic Education said,

“It is not possible for us at this time to fully investigate exactly who fell within the broad definition of insects; the population of Russia was too heterogeneous and encompassed small, special groups, entirely superfluous and, today, forgotten.

The people in the local zemstvo self-governing bodies were, of course, insects. People in the cooperative movement were also insects, as were all owners of their own homes. There were not a few insects among the teachers in the gymnasiums.

The church parish councils were made up almost exclusively of insects, and it was insects of course who sang in church choirs. All priests were insects—and monks and nuns were even more so. (Gulag pg 27 -28)”

So far, political attempts at euphemization in the United States have not been as toxic as they were in Russia in 1927.

George Orwell is erroneously credited with originating the term Doublespeak from his book, 1984, in which the term never appears.

Regardless, Doublespeak refers to Euphemism and Dyseuphemism. Doublespeak examples span all levels of comedy and severity. Both sides of the political spectrum employ Doublespeak for rhetorical advantage.

But before dung-heap diving, peruse Doublespeak’s lighter side.

Euphemisms for someone who has died:
passed on, checked out, bit the big one, kicked the bucket, bitten the dust, popped their clogs, pegged it, carked it, turned their toes up, bought the farm, cashed in their chips, fallen off their perch, croaked, given up the ghost, shuffled off this mortal coil, assumed room temperature.

On the heavier side, politicians are notorious Doublespeakers, yet both are pot and kettle. Consider, first, the liberal point of view:

Doublespeak: Abortion
Real meaning: Killing and removal of a human fetus from its mother’s womb.

Doublespeak: Affirmative action
Real meaning: An attempt to achieve equality of outcome by favoring women and non-white males.

Doublespeak: Working Americans
Real meaning: Non-professionals who may or may not work harder than professionals and other wealthy people, and probably have invested less in schooling and training than professionals but should view themselves as oppressed by lazy, greedy professionals and entrepreneurs and vote for their liberal advocates.

Doublespeak: Community organizing
Real meaning: Do whatever you can, including lie, miscount, cheat, fudge and threaten, to give your group more than one vote per person (See ACORN).

Doublespeak: Affordable Healthcare
Real meaning: Shifting healthcare costs away from near-term voters and burdening the next two or three generations.

Doublespeak: Social Justice
Real meaning: Using the word “justice” implies that subsidy is deserved as a matter of justice. Therefore, the taking from one and giving it to another is authorized by morality and law and should not be questioned. Socialism.

Doublespeak: Planned Parenthood
Real Meaning: Promote abortion and undermine traditional families.

And on the conservative side,
Doublespeak: Strong National Defense
Real meaning: Meddle in world affairs, in campaigns with dubious gains and huge loss of fortune and life.

Doublespeak: Neo-conservatism
Real Meaning: Dupe the base, pacify the independents and get some libs to believe that you will somehow spend money like a drunken sailor and still ensure prosperity.

Doublespeak: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Real Meaning: Wow, no WMD’s. Let’s re-brand the war to be about freedom and not defense.

Please add some of your own in the comment section. I love them. If I were a doublespeak consultant, I would advise the following…

The NEA (National Teacher’s Union) should change its name to, “Society to Protect the Future of America’s Children.” Any critic would be going up against three sacred untouchables— Children, America and Future.

The Communist Party should change its name to, “The American Institute for the Promotion of Compassion.”

Truly the emperor is naked no matter what you hear from Congress, Hollywood and the media. Calling a thing by its name has liberating power in thought and action.

With the exception of comedic and artful uses, if doublespeak is not confronted, it will get passed off as reality. When this happens, life, freedom and goodness are sacrificed.

Solzhenitsyn says of most of his countrymen who allowed Lenin to exist and thrive, they “didn’t love freedom enough” to fight for it from the beginning.

If you choose not to engage, the question becomes, “how would you like your excrement served, madam?”


davidgrant-150x175-customDavid B. Grant is the founder of Summa Logica Productions, which promotes formal logic training, particularly among youth, and helps you become a better thinker, reader, and writer. He is the author of Joseph Spider and the Fallacy Farm.

David holds degrees in Philosophy (BA) and Business (MBA) from Brigham Young University. He teaches Entrepreneurship and Operations at Southern Utah University.

He resides in Cedar City, Utah with his wife and five children.


  1. In the case of 1984, I think you mean Newspeak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak).

    Here are a few more:

    Newspeak: Federal Reserve Bank
    Real Meaning: A foreign, private corporation responsible for the largest scam ever perpetrated on humanity that is neither federal nor has real reserves of any kind. See Fractional Reserve Banking.

    Newspeak: Mainstream Media
    Real Meaning: Talking heads that promote the agenda of their employers.

    Newspeak: Quantitative Easing
    Real Meaning: Defacing currency. See Federal Reserve.

    Newspeak: Bi-Partisan
    Real Meaning: Politically convenient at the expense of principle.

    Newspeak: Homeland Security
    Real Meaning: Counter-productive jobs project. See Department of Education.

    Newspeak: Hate Crime
    Real Meaning: A crime against the insecure and entitled.

    Newspeak: Conspiracy
    Real Meaning: Usually a truth that won’t be publicly acknowledged by authority.

    Newspeak: Deficit Spending
    Real Meaning: Pretending that someone else will be willing to pay for your stuff later.

    Newspeak: Unfunded Liabilities
    Real Meaning: Lies. Obligations that you never had the intention or ability to meet when they were made, and have since been defrauded to pretend that the budget was balanced.

    Newspeak: Feminists
    Real Meaning: Angry women who think all men are the source of all human tragedy.

    Newspeak: Fairness Doctrine
    Real Meaning: Censorship, false dichotomy, and repeal of free speech.

    Newspeak: Progressive
    Real Meaning: A communist who doesn’t even know what that means.

    Newspeak: New World Order
    Real Meaning: Old World Tyranny with modern technology.

    Newspeak: Piracy
    Real Meaning: People sharing with each other at no direct harm to anyone.

  2. Another favorite:

    Newspeak: Achievement Gap
    Real Meaning: Cultural and family problems believed to be the responsibility of government schools.

  3. Thanks, Rob. Those are great. I knew about Newspeak. Somehow, the term “doublespeak,” which I think is more descriptive, was credited to 1984. Thanks for the comment.

    I do take issue with a few of your “Real Meanings” Specifically, Piracy.


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