Culture Essay Opinion

Language as a Means of Political and Social Control

As innate language users, human beings use language as their primary means of communication.

As innate language users, human beings use language as their primary means of communication. Given that we read written language and describe our experiences and memories using language, it is the means of acquiring new knowledge, and passing on that knowledge to others. This essay will examine how language works, and how powerful and influential individuals and groups have used it to censor particular social or political views and to suppress public debate on controversial issues. They achieve this by controlling the terms of the argument, exploiting word connotations, employing euphemisms, and using equivocation and the ‘bait and switch’ tactic to deceive their audience, or to silence or discredit those who express ideas that depart from the politically correct orthodoxy.

Introduction

Human beings are innate language users. Language is our means of communicating with each other. Given that we read written language and describe our experiences and memories using language, it is the means of acquiring new knowledge, and passing on that knowledge to others.

Those who understand this know that if you can control people’s language, you can control their thoughts—and thus control their behaviour. This is why we are now in an era of word police, speech codes, and politically correct terms.

This essay will examine how language works, and how powerful and influential individuals and groups have used it to censor particular social or political views and to suppress public debate on controversial issues in order to prevent the giving and taking of offence by silencing or attempting to discredit those who express ideas that depart from the politically correct orthodoxy.

The Way Language Works

All languages consist of a grammar and a vocabulary. The vocabulary is the list of words, including nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions etc. (and their respective meanings) that are used in the language, while grammar defines the structure of the language, including word morphology and the syntactical relationships between the words. Thus, in the middle ages, the basis of a classical education was the Trivium: Grammar, Logic (or Dialectic), and Rhetoric.

In the Trivium, Grammar was concerned with how to speak and write—how to formulate a syntactically correct sentence that expresses a complete thought using a language’s basic element: words. Given that a sentence is a complete thought, if you cannot write a grammatically complete sentence then you probably cannot think a complete thought. Indeed, if you do not understand the difference between words that are nouns and verbs, then you cannot understand the difference between things and actions. If you do not understand the difference between nouns and adjectives, then you cannot distinguish between things and their attributes. If you do not understand prepositions, then you will have trouble understanding relationships. If you do not know the difference between a direct object and an indirect object, then you will have a hard time understanding causation.

Therefore, there is a direct relationship between our command of language and our ability to think. Where a person’s command of language is small, their power of thought is also small. This is, undoubtedly, why a person cannot remember many of their experiences when they were a child—because a child has no, or at least very limited, language to describe and internalise their experiences.

Grammar concerned how to speak and write, but Logic (or Dialectic) in the Trivium concerned how to speak and write meaningfully, intelligently and coherently. A sentence may be grammatically correct, but it may not necessarily express an intelligent (or intelligible) thought. Thus, Logic involved teaching students how to make a meaningful and logically coherent argument. Today, many academics, especially in the science and engineering disciplines are, by necessity, very good at this skill, but their writings are often exceptionally dry, tedious and uninspiring to read. This is why the Trivium included teaching on Rhetoric.

Rhetoric was concerned with not just how to speak and write meaningfully, intelligently and coherently, but also how to do it with style so that your speech or writing is memorable, compelling, inspiring, and persuasive. The great orators throughout history were masters of this skill, including Jesus Christ, Socrates, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., but also Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. All these men were able to deliver a simple message with passion and style that their audiences found compelling and persuasive. These orators changed the world through their speeches and writings.

In relation to the use of words, there are two further important points. Firstly, meaningful, intelligent and coherent communication requires precision: using the right word on the right occasion. There is often a big difference between the right word and almost the right word. As Mark Twain put it, it is like “the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

Secondly, one must understand that words have a connotative meaning as well as a denotative meaning. The denotative meaning is the one listed in a dictionary, but the connotative meaning is attributed by the community of readers or hearers. For example, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘violence’ as behaviour that involves “physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill.” However, it also carries the connotation of utilising force that is extreme and brutal. The word ‘discriminate’ means “to recognize a distinction” but now carries the negative connotation of being prejudiced, sexist, or racist.

From the above it should be clear that there is a strong direct link between words, meaning, and thought. Because we speak and write with words, read and listen to words, think in words, and describe our memories and experiences in words, it follows that if you can control another’s words, then you can control their thoughts. And because our behaviour is a reflection of what we think, you can ultimately control their behaviour. I believe this is precisely the strategy being employed today by the political left and other activists.[1] Instead of refuting or rebutting their opponents’ arguments, they understand that it is easier and more effective to simply prevent them from speaking, or at least to ensure their opponents are isolated from any would-be hearers, or that any potential audience is intellectually insulated or quarantined from their arguments.

Manipulating Language to Silence People

Given that language is the means by which we express and communicate our ideas, it follows that the easiest and best way to ‘disarm’ one’s opponents—to silence them and prevent them from communicating their alternative ideas—is to take away their words. How does one do this? As Ray Bradbury’s dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 demonstrates, banning and burning books will not work and only serves as a red flag for the suppression of truth and freedom. The answer is found in another dystopian classic: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell understood that changing the meaning of words was a powerful tool that could be used by those in power to serve their political purposes. In his dystopian world, there existed a Ministry of Truth, which, contrary to the what its name suggests, was actually responsible for suppressing the truth! It did this by serving up relentless propaganda to the citizens. Indeed, the Ministry’s three slogans were “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.”

Orwell described the infamous term ‘Newspeak,’ a reconstructed form of English that redefined common words to mean almost the exact opposite of the customary understanding of those words:

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world−view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods…Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.[2]

Newspeak was different from all other languages because its vocabulary progressively shrank rather than expanding every year. Moreover, all reductions were viewed gains, because in reducing choice it also reduced the temptation to think about the choice.

Newspeak constrained thought and the expression of ideas by limiting its vocabulary to three basic categories. The  ‘A’ vocabulary contained only simple referential words relevant to describing everyday life. “It would have been quite impossible to use the A vocabulary for literary purposes or for political or philosophical discussion.”[3]

The ‘B’ vocabulary was “deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.”[4] No word in this vocabulary was ideologically neutral.

The ‘C’ vocabulary consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms stripped of undesirable meanings. There was no vocabulary expressing “the function of Science as a habit of mind, or a method of thought, irrespective of its particular branches.”[5]

In Newspeak, words such as ‘honour,’ ‘justice,’ ‘morality,’ ‘internationalism,’ ‘democracy,’ ‘science,’ and ‘religion’ were eliminated. All words related to the concepts of objectivity and rationalism were defined by the single word ‘oldthink.’[6] Newspeak had no word for ‘bad or ‘evil,’ just ‘ungood.’

In addition, in Newspeak it was almost impossible to follow a heretical thought any further than the perception that it was heretical: “beyond that point the necessary words were simply non-existent.”[7]

It was virtually impossible to articulate unorthodox opinions in Newspeak because the words required to do so were simply not available. Neither could one invent a new word or redefine an old one for the very same reason. For example, it would be impossible to express the opening lines of the United States Declaration of Independence, which expresses human equality and inalienable rights endowed by God, and the need for representative government to secure those rights. “The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink.”[8]

Unfortunately, it appears Orwell’s 1984 has already arrived. We now live in a world where speech is violence, violence is exercising free speech, rioting and looting is a “mostly peaceful” activity, and boys can menstruate.

Another way to effectively silence ideological opponents is to discredit or smear them personally. This is a form of ad hominem attack. By smearing your opponent, you (1) create a justification to deny them a platform i.e. the opportunity to express their ideas and be heard; and (2) manufacture a reason to dismiss their arguments out of hand without ever having to respond to, or rebut, their arguments. This is usually achieved by either assigning them a pejorative label, or by placing them in a disreputable category or group. Thus, people who believe homosexuality is a perversion, or object to the homosexual lifestyle, are labelled as homophobic and accused of hate speech. Similarly, those who point out the inherent chauvinism of Islam or its tendency to inspire terrorism are labelled as Islamophobic and accused of hate speech. So those who disagree over the merits of homosexuality and Islam are not only enveloped in fear, their fear is irrational, and they are more or less suffering from a mental illness. Thus, legitimate disagreements are turned into psychological problems! Yet, this does not prevent their ideological opponents from labelling them as not just wrong or stupid, but actually sinful and evil.

We increasingly see this tactic used today. Advocating for reductions in the level of the refugee intake, or pointing out abuse and familial dysfunction among Aboriginal and migrant communities will get you branded as a racist and/or white supremacist. Anyone who speaks out or stands up against the zeitgeist of political correctness is denounced as ‘alt-right’ or ‘extreme right’—a racist, fascist, bigoted, white supremacist—and no one wants to entertain or listen to someone like that!

Controlling the Terms of the Argument

The easiest and least violent method to control the ideas that are publicly expressed is to set the terms of any contentious issue by using language that limits the possible points of disagreement. This can be achieved by redefining terms or stripping them of certain meanings. As Orwell says regarding Newspeak:

This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds.’ It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless.[9]

Prime examples of invented words are the various ‘phobias.’ As noted above, anyone who believes homosexuality is immoral or a perversion is homophobic. Anyone who criticises Islam is Islamophobic, as well as being racist—even though Islam is a religion not a race. Similarly, anyone who thinks our refugee in-take is too high is xenophobic, as well as being a racist. Indeed, the human race itself has been broken down into groups of localised, unicultural people, each of which are called a ‘race.’

Many words are also redefined—or at least the semantic range of those words is trimmed. This starts with the very definition of ‘truth’ itself. The virtually universal understanding of truth was that it described, or had a correspondence with, an objective reality. As Aristotle put it: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.”[10] But for many years there has been growing scepticism about the existence of absolute truth. Truth is increasingly becoming a relative concept: what is true for you may not be true for me. Ideas, laws, and principles that everyone once thought were objectively true are now viewed as mere social constructs. This denial of objectivity has opened the door to disregarding specific facts and the elevation of being ‘morally right’ or proclaiming a message of truth irrespective of its factual basis. Thus, US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated in an interview that too many people care more about being “precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right,”[11] and when the Nobel Peace Prize winning autobiography, I, Rigoberta Menchu, was shown to be largely a fabrication, defenders such as Gary H. Gossen suggested that although most of her story was not literally true, “the generic facts corroborate her story.”[12]

Sometimes truth is assessed in an alternative universe where time does not exist, events that have actually occurred are deemed not to have occurred, and predicted events that have not yet occurred are deemed  to have already occurred. After Julia Gillard’s Labor government made bold and unaffordable funding commitments for public school education, and the subsequent Abbott Coalition government refused to honour those insane funding commitments, Labor spokespersons, teacher unions, and supportive media outlets audaciously accused them of ‘cutting education funding’—even though the government had increased funding from the previous year.[13] In actual fact, the Coalition government had merely exposed a hollow promise of additional funding at some unidentified time in the future, but in the minds of the government critics, the additional funding for the current year had not actually occurred, and those promised future payments had already occurred in the present!

The redefinition of truth naturally leads to the redefinition of other words. Being ‘tolerant’ meant that you could value and respect a person as an individual without necessarily agreeing with, or endorsing, their beliefs, ideas, and life choices. Each person is free to believe and act in whatever way they choose provided this did not interfere with others’ freedoms and choices. So one could tolerate the homosexual activists’ annual parade through the streets of Sydney, even if one believed it was a flagrant display of voyeurism and sexual perversion. But the relativisation of truth has brought a new meaning. If truth is a social construct, then no society can claim any higher knowledge of truth, and thus each society’s truths are equally valid and worthy of respect. If all societies’ truths are equally valid, then there is no basis for criticising or invalidating them. To do so, would display one’s intolerance. Therefore, to be ‘tolerant’ now means accepting all beliefs, ideas, and choices even if they are patently absurd and contradictory. Moreover, in this view of tolerance, one is still allowed to be ‘intolerant’ of anyone who denies the basic principles that all truth is socially constructed and that all ideas and beliefs are equally valid. There is now nothing inconsistent about a tolerant person criticising and condemning those who believe truth is absolute, that homosexuality is morally wrong, or that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples.

‘Sex’ and ‘gender’ are another two words that have been redefined to facilitate the aims of ‘progressive’ activists. For thousands of years, all societies recognised that all human beings can be categorised as either ‘male’ or ‘female’ based on objective biological criteria—the form of their reproductive organs being the most obvious attribute. But the term ‘sex’ as a descriptor of a person’s biological category has now been marginalised in favour of the non-binary and more rubbery linguistic term ‘gender.’ The term ‘gender’ is widely used in language grammars to describe different morphological categories of nouns, pronouns and adjectives. Such categories are often given the labels ‘masculine,’ ‘feminine,’ and ‘neuter,’ and thus, the adoption of the term ‘gender’ has opened the door for postmodern social deconstructionists to assert that human sexuality is non-binary, and to support and facilitate their undermining of the traditional family and heterosexual marriage.

To be ‘rich’ used to mean that one had a much higher than average net wealth. Yet the definition of ‘rich’ has changed from a measure of wealth to a measure of income. While a household earning $150,000 a year (a couple, each earning $75,000) is financially much better off than 90% of Australians, they cannot, in any meaningful way, be considered ‘rich’—especially if they have a substantial mortgage and credit debt. Income and wealth are two very different things. Similarly, being poor is often defined in relative terms e.g. earning below 60% of the median income level for the nation. Again, this fails to take into account one’s accumulated assets as well as a person’s overall standard of living. A person classified as ‘poor’ in Australia usually has a car, all the modern appliances, including television, DVD/Blu-Ray player, a computer and smartphone, fashionable clothes, full access to healthcare at no or little cost, and should not need to worry where their next meal is coming from. They bear little or no resemblance to the absolute poor in countries like the Congo, Mozambique or Haiti. 

In politics, what it means to be on the ‘left’ or ‘right’ has also been skewed. There is a virtually universal understanding that Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were ‘extreme right’ when in actual fact—as Dinesh D’Souza has meticulously documented—they were both totalitarians who had policy platforms that were remarkably similar to the US Democrats of the past and present.[14] The term ‘centrist’ is more commonly used to refer to a politician of the centre-left, and for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, maintaining ‘balance’ in political reporting means presenting a range of views from the centre-left, through the far-left, to the looney-left.

In environmental studies, the semantic range of the word ‘extinction’ has been expanded to include ‘extirpation’—where a particular species disappears from a certain local geographic area (either through death, or more often, through migration) but still exists or even thrives in other geographical areas. Similarly, ‘pollution’ used to refer to the presence of artificial or foreign contaminants in an environment, but has now been extended to include variations in the concentration of naturally occurring and essential substances such as carbon dioxide.

Exploiting Word Connotations

As noted above, many words carry connotations of meaning. That is, they evoke certain ideas and feelings in the reader or hearer. Therefore, an easy way to discredit a person, group, institution, or idea is to give it a label that carries negative connotations. Similarly, one can use labels that have positive connotations to promote and support an individual, group, institution or idea. For example, a ‘conservative’ is someone stuck in the 1950s, completely out of touch with modern society, but a ‘progressive’ is a modern, enlightened person who is in tune with current community standards. Moreover, conservatives are often accused of being purveyors of ‘discrimination’, which now carries the connotation of being prejudiced, bigoted, racist or sexist.

Anyone who expresses concern over the teachings and practices of the followers of Islam is automatically branded as ‘Islamophobic.’ Similarly, those who object to the homosexual lifestyle or the radical social agenda of homosexual activists are immediately branded ‘homophobic,’ but those who go along with it all are regarded as ‘tolerant,’ ‘inclusive,’ and ‘celebrating diversity’—despite the fact they have no tolerance for, or desire to include, those with whom they disagree.

If you’re a ‘capitalist,’ you’re a shrewd and greedy person willing to exploit and rip off workers in your quest to accumulate more money, but if you’re a socialist, you’re into equality, fairness and compassion.

Smacking one’s children as a form of disciplinary action has been recharacterized as a form of ‘violence,’ which carries the connotation of the smacker being out of control and using extreme or disproportionate force.

Those who doubt, or are sceptical of, the catastrophic scenarios pushed by global warming/climate change alarmists are regarded as being anti-science and labelled as ‘deniers’ by their opponents so as to place them on the same moral and intellectual plane as holocaust deniers. Indeed, the political left constantly attempts to equate their opponents with the Nazis by labelling them as ‘extreme right’ or ‘alt-right’ despite the fact that the Nazis were totalitarians and had a policy platform very similar to today’s left wing parties. Nevertheless, those on the political left insist they are actually ‘centrists,’—and in their minds they are because they stand to the right of the hard left and looney left, but a long way from of all those ‘extreme right’ conservatives!

Using Euphemisms to Obfuscate

Euphemisms are terms with positive connotations that are substituted for ‘raw’ but more accurate terms, in order to obscure a reality, or to present an alternative reality. In Orwell’s ‘Newspeak,’ euphemisms were widely employed to communicate a meaning almost the exact opposite of what they actually meant. Thus, ‘joycamp’ referred to a forced-labour camp, and ‘Minipax’ referred to the ‘Ministry of Peace,’ which was actually the Ministry of War.[15]

Today, those on the political left claim to be ‘progressive’ in their thinking and social outlook, even though the policies they champion will invariably prevent all real progress and utterly destroy the substantial freedoms and benefits achieved by western civilisation over the centuries. For them, ‘progress’ is undermining the concept of the stable, nuclear family, destroying private property rights and free markets, and halting all industrial and commercial development. Indeed, it is these ‘progressives’ who want to control or silence the speech of others, and thus prevent the free exchange and contest of ideas.

Supporters of ‘affirmative action’ policies argue that such policies promote social equality among minority groups or groups that have historically been victims of discrimination. But the term ‘affirmative action’ obscures the fact that these policies are just another form of discrimination: a member of a minority or historically disadvantaged group is always to be preferred above all others.

The word ‘gay’ used to describe someone who was carefree and ostentatious but now almost exclusively refers to a male homosexual, presenting them as a happy-go-lucky free spirit. Yet it would appear that many homosexual men are anything but happy given their disproportionately high use of illicit drugs, chronic alcohol abuse,[16] and the extreme likelihood of suffering domestic violence at the hands of their male partners.[17]

Due to the negative connotations associated with ‘abortion,’ the preferred term is now the generic, insipid, and impersonal word ‘termination.’ Likewise, calling unborn babies ‘foetuses’ dehumanises them and obscures the fact that what is being terminated is the life of a helpless, living, human being. Moreover, those who support and advocate for abortion rights identify as ‘pro-choice’ despite depriving unborn babies of any choices at all, and despite denying medical practitioners and counselling services the right to present alternative choices to pregnant women seeking abortions, or the choice to not give referrals to abortion service providers.

Deception by Equivocation

Equivocation occurs when a speaker or writer does not define their terms and then deliberately uses ambiguous language to conceal their beliefs, or to avoid committing themselves to a position. For example, when a government minister or company manager talks about ‘efficiency improvements’ or ‘streamlining of operations’ they invariably mean mass layoffs or redundancies. Different religions use the term ‘God’ to refer to their supreme deity, but the Christian God bears no resemblance at all to the God of Islam—or, for that matter—the Mormon God, or the God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Alternatively, the speaker or writer does this by subtly but deliberately changing the meaning or definition of a term in the middle of their argument. For example, the following statement subtly changes the meaning of ‘argue’: “Philosophy helps you argue better, but do we really need to encourage people to argue? We should all live in peace and harmony.”

Equivocation is often used in statements or arguments concerning equality. Multiculturalism is based on the assertion that all cultures are equal, and no single culture is superior to any other. Yet, there are clear and significant differences between many cultures: in relation to government and the rule of law, attitudes toward religion, respect for women, honour of  the elderly, and the value of human life.

Social policy is often formulated in terms of equality, and who could be against equality? But is the policy concerned with ‘equality of opportunity’ or ‘equality of outcomes’? Anti-discrimination laws are concerned with providing equality of opportunity, but they will rarely lead to equality of outcomes, because some people worker harder and smarter and make better use of their opportunities. Affirmative action policies, on the other hand, are concerned with equality of outcomes, but the only way to achieve this is to discriminate in favour of disadvantaged or minority groups, thus denying others equal opportunities.

Deception by ‘Bait and Switch’

The classic ‘Bait and Switch’ tactic employs uncontroversial or true statements in order to trick or persuade the hearer or reader into accepting a bogus or dubious claim. However, it is often employed more subtly using connotative meanings. The term ‘social justice’ is an example of this subtle approach. Everyone wants justice to prevail, and justice is an inherently social concept given that it most often concerns the settling of disputes between parties, be they individuals or entities, including government bodies. However, qualifying ‘justice’ with ‘social’ completely changes the meaning. Social justice is actually concerned with the relationship between individuals and their society, with respect to how privileges, opportunities, and wealth are ‘distributed’ among individuals. Using this frame of reference, ‘injustice’ is the uneven or unfair distribution of such privileges, opportunities and wealth.

Everyone agrees that access to education is essential for a flourishing society, and therefore it is argued that government funding for education must be a priority. However, most people assume that government subsidised education is high quality and focused on teaching fundamentals such as reading, writing, mathematics, science, critical thinking etc.—skills that will make the student employable. However, this is often not the case. Students are barely taught these fundamentals and the curriculum has been filled with teaching points that force a green environmental, multicultural, pro-diversity, anti-family, anti-western, and anti-Christian politically correct ideology. Moreover, much of the government funding is swallowed by state and Commonwealth public service bureaucrats.

‘Public interest criteria’ sounds like a great concept. Indeed, should a government and other institutions not operate according to what is in the public interest? But as Mark Steyn points out, public interest “doesn’t mean criteria that the public decides are in its interest. It means that the elite—via various appointed bodies decide what the public’s interest is for them.”[18]

Again, everyone acknowledges that human rights exist and laws to protect them serve to protect a person’s security and dignity. However, there are an increasing array of demands that have been surreptitiously slipped under the banner of human rights, including the right to social security, the right to a living wage, and the right to leisure and holidays.[19] Similarly, advocates for same sex marriage before the 2017 plebiscite argued that same sex marriage was a human right despite the fact that it concerns only a very small number of human beings and relates to the recognition of their relationship and lifestyle choices rather than their personal security and dignity.

Conclusion

Edward Bulwar-Lytton wrote in 1839, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”[20] This statement is usually a reference to how (written) language is a more effective tool for social change than the use of state force or revolutionary violence. However, it could also serve as a reference to the use of administrative and bureaucratic power. Both interpretations are equally applicable to the use and manipulation of language today. In political debates, public policy arguments, advocacy campaigns, and in the media and academia, the manipulation of language by controlling the terms of debate, redefining the meanings of key terms, employing euphemisms, equivocation and ‘bait and switch’ techniques are all routinely employed to control what people say and how they say it, and to limit or censor the expression of ideas that go against the politically correct establishment. A powerful elite—‘the anointed’ as Thomas Sowell has labelled them—have been able to take away people’s words and censor certain ideas without recourse to ‘book burning.’ They have been able to marginalise authors and silence speakers, or at least deny them an audience, without resorting to torture or imprisonment.

All the linguistic manipulations described above have come about gradually and subtly, with most older people barely noticing, and most younger people not knowing any different. When those older people are gone there will be few, if any, with the knowledge and will to push back, and our society finds itself in Orwell’s 1984, where truth—as Aristotle defined it—has disappeared, and we have all become native speakers of Newspeak.

Yet those who are familiar with western history and the great books of the western world will not be fooled, for the great books stand as a repudiation of the false ideas, ideologies, and political correctness wreaking havoc around the world today. This is why the predominantly left-wing educational establishment is so opposed to students being exposed to the western canon. Indeed, the use and abuse of language has contributed somewhat to the deconstruction and marginalisation of many of these great books and their authors. This is why we must push back harder than ever before against the manipulation of language and the suppression of ideas to ensure that the knowledge and wisdom contained in the great books of the western canon—especially the Bible—is not lost to the next generation.


[1] E.g. Homosexual and environmental lobby groups, and proponents of anthropogenic global warming. 

[2] George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Hammondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Penguin, 1954) 257-258. First emphasis added.

[3] Ibid, 258-259.

[4] Ibid, 260.

[5] Ibid, 266.

[6] Ibid, 262.

[7] Ibid, 263.

[8] Ibid, 267 (original emphasis).

[9] George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Hammondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Penguin, 1954) 257-258.

[10] Aristotle, Metaphysics, IV.7.

[11] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Interview with Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes, CBS, 6 January, 2019.

[12] Gary H. Gossen, “Rigoberta Menchu and Her Epic Narrative” Latin American Perspectives 26 (November 1999) 69 (emphasis added).

[13] See ABC, “Fact Check: Is the Abbott Government cutting $30 billion from school funding?”, 2 July 2014, accessed 5 May 2020.

[14] Dinesh D’Souza, The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2017).

[15] George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Hammondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Penguin, 1954) 263.

[16] See, for example, Ethan E. Bickelhaupt, “Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in Gay and Lesbian Persons: A Review of Incidence Studies” Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 2/1 (1995) 5-14; Kurt A. DeBord and Phillip K.Wood, “The relevance of sexual orientation to substance abuse and psychological distress among college students” Journal of College Student Development 39/2 (1998) 157-168; Ryan J. Ellison, Allen B. Downey and Peter H. Duesberg, “HIV as Surrogate Marker for Drug Use: A Re analysis of the San Francisco Men’s Health Study” Genetica 95 (1995) 165-171; John L. Martin and Deborah S. Hasin, “Drinking, Alcoholism, and Sexual Behavior in a Cohort of Gay Men” Drugs and Society 5 (1990) 1-2, 49-67; Ron Stall and James Wiley, “A Comparison of Alcohol and Drug Use Patterns of Homosexual & Heterosexual Men” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 22 (1998) 1-2, 63-73.

[17] See, for example, J. Michael Cruz and Juanita M Firestone, “Exploring violence and abuse in gay male relationships” Violence and Victims (1998); L. Kevin Hamberger, “Intervention in Gay Male Intimate Violence Requires Coordinated Efforts on Multiple Levels” Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services 4/1 (1996) 83-91; Mary P. Koss, “Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence” Journal of Sex Education and Therapy 19/2 (Summer 1993) 148-150; Betsy Stanko, “Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence” British Journal of Criminology 33/3 (Summer 1993) 449-450; Wayne F. Winters, “Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence” Violence and Victims 8/1 (Spring 1993) 85-86.

[18] Mark Steyn, America Alone (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2006) 50.

[19] Andrew Kulikovsky, “Christianity and Human Rights” The West Australian Jurist 9 (2018) 185-188.

[20]  Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, Act II, scene II.


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