War of the Words: Making Sense of the News
There is a heavy cloud of smoke on the battlefield. The War of the Words between worldwide leaders in news has made it hard to form a fair and balanced opinion about current issues.
In the battle of ideas, words are the weapons of choice.
Some writers are unapologetic about their selection of rhetoric. Some writers use buzz words to push hidden agendas. Some writers are using words to covertly shape your worldview. Words like:
- Out of style
These words are used to influence readers to form an opinion about various issues. But does the use of these emotionally-charged words necessarily mean the issue being addressed is wrong? Let’s take a look at these words:
Draconioan can mean severe. It’s often used to mean cruel. But what if a situation warrants severe measures or rules?
Outdated means no longer current. But what if the current state of affairs is worse than the past?
Out of style means, well . . . out of style. But what if current distinctive manners of expression are inappropriate, vulgar, or foul?
Discrimination is a “prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment.”¹ But shouldn’t we treat murderers, racists, rapists, and thieves a little bit differently?
Fear-mongering means to cause excitement or alarm, especially needlessly. But what if fear and excitement is appropriate for the situation?
Decades of conditioning have us cringing at the mention of these words like Pavlov’s dogs. But in the right context, draconian measures, outdated ideas, unstylish behavior, discrimination, and fear-mongering can be good things.
We must take severe measures against the indiscriminate killing of innocents. We must reject new ideas which violate our inalienable rights. We must condemn any destructive behavior and ideas that are in style. We have a duty to discriminate against predators, criminals, and traitors. We must become fearmongerers to save innocent victims from unrecognized danger.
Other words make us fawn. Let’s look at some other emotionally-charged words intended to nudge readers in a different direction. Words like:
Tolerance is “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”² But should we tolerate people who justify violence against innocent civilians?
Newness always causes excitement. But does newer always mean better?
Acceptance often leads to rationalization. But are we accepting the wrong things?
Normal is often combined with “new.” But who defines the standards to which we must conform?
Some writers attempt to define issues by careful adjective management. This guides the reader toward a desired opinion. Once they’ve decided on a stance, evaluation is optional.
But this is backwards. We must use a three step process when making a judgment:
1. Evaluate the issue
2. Form an opinion
3. Issue the judgment
Completing step two is very difficult without a clearly understood worldview. If you are content with being shaped by the opinions of others, simply accept the writer’s narrative and the carefully crafted feelings they’ve engineered for you.
But if you want to go deeper, if you’re willing to look at an issue from both sides of the battlefield, you must get past the smokescreen.
We must look not at the description of issues, but at the issues themselves. Only then can we find peace.
Do you agree with this battlefield assessment, or am I just popping smoke?
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Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jody Lee Smith / Public Domain