Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Wordage Just Say It, Dammit, Edition--a rant you don't have to read but that I have to rant.

Begin rant:

A long time ago, I was on a bike tour that passed through some lovely scenery in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  I was not supposed to be naive--I had a college education from a prestigious institution under my belt--but, I was.  Maybe it was because I missed some classes in High School, or because I slept through something, or maybe because it just wasn't taught.  Whatever the reason, I was almost completely unaware of the history of the relationship between my country and the First Nations who originally lived in the area.   Every day we passed historical markers and parks and battlefields, I got a good eye-opening about just how rotten one's government can be, and how enthusiastically a democratic majority can support that rottenness.  And, of course, if you pay attention, you can hear that lesson again and again and again.

So I found myself listening to the radio today as I drove to the vet.  I had tuned in while the show was in progress, and heard somebody vigorously defending the use of "EITs".  I eventually figured out that an EIT was an "Enhanced Interrogation Technique."  As I listened on, it became very, very clear that EIT was torture, given legal blessing by compliant lawyers and paranoid, fearful agents.  It was clear that the things being legally purified were, when practiced by Khmer Rouge or North Vietnamese or Maoist or Imperial Japanese or Nazi or Stalinist agents, torture.  It was clear, as I was driving to the vet, that if I did the things blandly described as EITs to the goats in the back of my truck, I would be arrested and prosecuted.  It made me kind of sick, and gave me a bit more of that feeling I had while reading yet another sign describing United States soldiers killing native women and children in some beautiful valley in Montana.

And now, I am sicker.  Apparently, over 50% of people who identify with one of our major political parties reckon that EITs are a genuinely good thing.  Not tolerable, but right and just. 

Carlin and Orwell, a couple of Georges who were keen observers of the abuse of language, talked about how you can hide the most awful things behind bland, meaningless words.  Torture becomes Enhanced Interrogation becomes EIT, and heck, EIT's don't sound so bad.  Torture doesn't magically become something else when the same thing is done by the CIA rather than Pol Pot, no matter how scared you are, no matter how many lawyers bless it, and no matter what name you disguise it with.

I want never to hear the terms "EIT" or Enhanced Interrogation used by any news organization to describe the torture that agents of my country performed.  It was torture.  Just say it, dammit.  And if you're one of those people who thinks that EITs are tolerable, just own the fact that you endorse torture. 

Oh, and what I was saying earlier about epithets and chyrons...there are a lot of people who, whenever they make any public pronouncement about anything, should have a label saying "...supports torturing people..."

End of Rant. 

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