Words Have Meaning

The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate

Matt Drudge posted this on Twitter this afternoon; presumably the 140-character limit explains why he can’t be bothered to punctuate his complete thought correctly.

Beyond the “Cut off our note to spite our face,” stupidity of questioning the sincerity of hurricane warnings, the use of “The deplorables,” also amuses me.

“Hey, we’re doing to stick it to The Man by taking their term for us and making it our own! Yeah!” It’s one thing when it’s a term that has no use in polite language; in North American English, “faggot,” has only one meaning, and it’s ugly. So, if homosexual men want to turn the word into a term of prideful rebellion instead of shameful insult, that’s their choice. The same applies to “the N-word,” that Obama can use but I can’t.

“Deplorable,” isn’t such a word. You might not hear it in the neighborhood much, because it almost qualifies as a “ten-dollar word” that would be used by someone pretentious, but it has a specific meaning. It’s vaguely similar to “unindicted co-conspirator,” a legal term for someone suspected of something but against whom no indictment has been formally found. When liberals adopted the term in the ’70s, it was to thumb their nose at the almost fascist reactionaries in the American government who were trying to quash the resistance to the Vietnam war. But it wasn’t a term used in public much until the Nixon gang referred very deliberately to some of their enemies that way.

“Deplorable,” though, isn’t a term-of-art, used is a specific dialect of English for a specific purpose. It’s a real word taught in high school or even junior high school as a specific combination of “wrong,” and “shameful.” Your English teacher would have been clear: it wasn’t a compliment.

The question becomes, does “shame” exist in modern America? Popular culture has become so crass, moral guardians continuously “tut, tut…” about every public display of affection or rebellion that five decades ago were kept in the dark and private recesses of our private lives. People now glorify “greed,” although sometimes it’s a example of, “Clearly missed the point.” People glorify being “sex positive,” without much consideration that maybe there’s a happy medium between flagrantly obsessed with sex and horrendously repressed about sex. And, now, people seem to be glorifying being racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and all the other qualities Hillary Clinton threw into the “basket of deplorables.” Shit-stirrers like Matt Drudge or Eric Trump who defiantly adopt the term are the embodiment of the heresy that there’s no such thing as expertise, authority, or even unambiguous fact. These are the morons who believe that the fervency of their beliefs can trump the correctness of our facts and the moral standing of, yes, our morals.

I’m glad Matt Drudge doesn’t deny the term “deplorable,” but I wish he understood the concept of “shame,” and why one ought to be carefully before casting shame about an idea into the dustbin.

It really feels like so many genies are out of their bottles. It’s going take a long time, I fear, before there’s any consensus in America about what things are shameful any longer.


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