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Trivialization of Language | Max Greenhalgh

Trivialization of Language

by Max Greenhalgh

George Orwell’s 1984 hit the top of the Amazon bestsellers list not too long ago, as a result of Kellyanne Conway’s now infamous “alternative facts” gaffe. While 1984 is absolutely a book that should be taken seriously, I wonder why it took this particular example of counter definitional word use to make America fear Big Brother again. There are many words today whose definitions have been manipulated to make cheap political points. Here are some examples of a few of them.

Fascist – (n) New Definition: Conservative person who I do not like

The word fascist has served an important purpose over the history of our country. It has described numerous foreign tyrants, like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. However, today it often finds itself describing our newest president, Donald Trump. This conflation of the word dulls its impact when an actual fascist comes to power somewhere in the world by diluting the words meaning through overuse. Enforcing a nation’s sovereign border (while potentially economic suicide) isn’t fascism. Tax cuts for the rich don’t signify fascism’s rise in America. Let’s use the word fascist to describe the leaders that will kill and imprison people due to their identities and silence all dissenters with totalitarianism, like Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin.

Social Justice Warrior – (n) New Definition: Liberal person who I do not like

On the other side of things, a more recently cropped up mocking word’s usage has spiraled out of control. Just like fascist, the term social justice warrior serves the purpose of pointing out a bigoted ideology but points out those who elevate minorities above the majority instead of vice versa. However, just because a liberal president like Barack Obama supports universal healthcare (another crippling economic policy) don’t make him a social justice warrior, nor is it true that those who marched to ensure the rights of women were protected after Donald Trump’s election are all just a bunch of social justice warriors.

Fake News – (n) New Definition: News that doesn’t back up my pre-established worldview

Once again, fake news is a phrase that is essential to describe the news that is ostensibly and obviously untrue with any amount of investigation. However, it has been reduced to a political punchline in today’s hyper-polarized climate. Tell a Republican that there is a problem with most of Donald Trump’s cabinet being private business leaders stemming from potential conflicts of interest, and you may hear “fake news” as a response. Tell a Democrat that their Congressional representatives have made more news sitting in and filibustering over the last few weeks than they did actually writing legislation over the past eight years, and the same “fake news” reply might make an appearance. Please, use the phrase to describe factually inaccurate or made up reporting. This isn’t hard.


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