The Culling of Words

Programming note: In an hour or so, I’ll be joining Tucker Carlson live across America. That’s at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Hope you’ll tune in. In consequence, the weekend edition of The Mark Steyn Show will be postponed until tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, welcome to Part Six of our latest audio entertainment – a bit of escapism all about a society where the citizen is observed twenty-four hours a day for signs of thoughtcrime. So nothing to do with our world then. Instead, it’s Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. George Pazin, a First Month Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Pennsylvania, writes of last night’s episode:

Now this episode was both prescient (no matter how you pronounce it) and terrifying: I felt like Google/Facebook/Twitter/CNN/MSNBC/Dem party used this chapter specifically to create their employee instruction manuals.

What is most bizarre about the world today, to me personally, is how people can view events that happen in such dramatically different forms – the events of Jan 6 were an insurrection, an attempt to overthrow the government, treason!, while the burning of American cities all summer, including DC, with an attack on the White House and St John’s cathedral were mostly peaceful protests!

But of course, George. As Orwell teaches us in this very story, “doublethink” is not only a great advantage to a totalitarian society but a logical strategic imperative.

In tonight’s episode of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith gets a lesson in Newspeak from his colleague Syme:

‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said. ‘We’re getting the language into its final shape–the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else… You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words–scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.’

He bit hungrily into his bread and swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, then continued speaking, with a sort of pedant’s passion. His thin dark face had become animated, his eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown almost dreamy.

‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well–better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning, or “doubleplusgood” if you want something stronger still… In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words–in reality, only one word.’

Today the grunting goons of the University of Michigan proudly advertise their updated list of forbidden words, and don’t even realize they’re following in the footsteps of every dystopia from Orwell to H G Wells. Incidentally, if memory serves it was commenter Steven Payne who said he didn’t want to hear any more “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” on The Mark Steyn Show. But “picnic” is now a proscribed word in Michigan, so playing “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is a revolutionary act. That’s where we are in 2021.

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