In 1996, one of the Guiding Lights, and “Deep Conservative Thinkerers,” Newt Gingrich, outlined a strategy and a fundamental need for the Republicans to control language in order to win the war of ideas and exert control.
You can find a copy of his memo here, and in the event that it should vanish, I will make a copy of the entire thing on this site (as a footnote to this piece).
I think it’s safe to say that conservatives have taken this lesson to heart, and made it such a central part of their strategery that they do it reflexively these days. Certainly you see its effects on a daily basis on the Republican “News” Network, and all the communications properties that exist inside the Fox Bubble.
It seems to have also become ingrained in the psyche of rank and file conservatives as well.
Just yesterday, I was speaking to a conservative poster about gay marriage. The flow of the conversation went like this:
DD3075: Come on now, everyone knows the difference between “birth” parents and “adopted” parents.
I see a radical minority that is asking to redefine words to accommodate their choices in living arrangements. Not only do they want to change the definition of “marriage”, now they would like to change the definition of “birth parents”.
“Birth parents” are one thing. “Adoptive parents” are something else.
Let’s see, if a man marries a woman who already has a child by another man, does he have the “right” to put his name on the birth certificate? NO. He can become an adoptive parent to the child, but he will never be the “birth” parent. Same goes for gays.
Simple as that.
As for Romney, he never said a thing against adoptive parents or families made from adoptions.
Me: I’m pretty sure they don’t give a $hit what you call it…they’re not interested in how these terms appear in Merriam Webster…what they WANT are the same rights straight folks have when THEY get married, and not to get castigated for different beliefs by angry, ignorant guys with pitchforks.
That’s not a hugely radical concept, really. To live…in peace, without some Fundie looming over them.
DD3075: So tell us all, Vel…..
if: “they don’t give a $hit what you call it…they’re not interested in how these terms appear in Merriam Webster…what they WANT are the same rights”
then: why doesn’t the radical gay community develop a term that indicates a religious or civil union of gays?
That term could then be added to documents where they feel they are not acknowledged as lifetime partners. They usually bring up hospital visits. Or financial documents.
Me: I will answer your question with a question…if we already have a word that signifies what they want to do, why should they have to? Develop a whole new language, I mean?
Their usage of the word is nothing to you…doesn’t mean YOU can’t use the same word, doesn’t detract in any way from using the same word. We use the same words nationwide…my use of them does not preclude yours….does it?
I don’t own the words. I don’t have a monopoly on them, so who am I to tell you that you can, or cannot use them? I don’t even understand why that’s part of the discussion.
It’s a word. You don’t own it, and I’m not going to LET you tell me I can’t use it if I want to.
Just like you’re not gonna let me control YOUR use of words.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
One of your fellow conservative posters, Yourmamatoo, uses the words “economic freefall” to describe the current condition of the economy.
We can’t insist that she invent a whole new language to describe the economy, even tho, by any SANE measure, the economy most assuredly is NOT “in an economic freefall.”
She is, nonetheless, free to use that set of words to describe it, is she not?
Tell you what…if you feel that strongly about it, raise some money, convince a judge to enforce your purchase of the word.
Then you can control its usage. Until you do that, pardon the French, but if you try to tell me what words to use and how to use them, I’m likely to tell you to F**k off. (unless you purchase that one too, of course. )
In the end, this is more of the same conservative projection I’ve talked about time and time again.
“YOU (liberals, which itself has been redefined to mean, “anybody to the left of Limbaugh”) are not allowed to redefine words. That’s our thing,” and sadly, it has led to a twisted realm of thought where corporations, zygotes and even stem cells are “people” to the folk on the right, being gay is a choice, but rape is a gift from god (and even then, in the conservative mind, there’s an apparent distinction between “Legitimate Rape” and…”Illegitimate Rape?”), and where actual (poor) people are animals (note the the four different republican politicans here aren’t just some isolated pocket in a backwater part of the country…they’re pretty much everywhere, hailing from South Carolina, Nebraska, Arizona and Minnesota…a pretty fair cross section of the nation)
This is what the Republican party has become.
People are animals, gay’s made bad choices, rape is a gift from the Almighty, and everything from soulless corporations to zygotes to stem cells are people.
As disturbing as the above is, it is perhaps not surprising, being the natural next step in the chain when you reject math, science, and data as being part of a global conspiracy, and want to remove the teaching of critical thinking skills from schools.
These people would make the Puritans look like a bunch of radical hippies.
They are as ignorant as they are dangerous, and their beliefs are as poisonous as their failed economic policies, which have now been responsible for both of America’s worst economic crisis.
It has to stop, and We, the People, have to stop it.
Here’s Newt’s Article, referenced above:
.Language: A Key Mechanism of Control
Newt Gingrich’s 1996 GOPAC memo
As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that “language matters.” In the video “We are a Majority,” Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: “I wish I could speak like Newt.”
That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.
This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media. The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.
While the list could be the size of the latest “College Edition” dictionary, we have attempted to keep it small enough to be readily useful yet large enough to be broadly functional. The list is divided into two sections: Optimistic Positive Governing words and phrases to help describe your vision for the future of your community (your message) and Contrasting words to help you clearly define the policies and record of your opponent and the Democratic party.
Please let us know if you have any other suggestions or additions. We would also like to know how you use the list. Call us at GOPAC or write with your suggestions and comments. We may include them in the next tape mailing so that others can benefit from your knowledge and experience.
Optimistic Positive Governing Words
Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!
eliminate good-time in prison
pro- (issue): flag, children, environment, reform
Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.
abuse of power
anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
“compassion” is not enough
punish (poor …)
Apparently, “Yourmamatoo” didn’t like me poking fun at her for describing the current state of the economy as being “in freefall.” It came up in conversation here, and in her usual, snarky style, she basically called me a liar. She’s “never” used that term. Not once, and I’m just making up my own facts.
Well….I don’t take kindly to people calling me a liar, and I’ll admit, I was mad about it…was gonna find where she said it, post the screen shots of it and call her a lying sack of canine excrement, or something comparable, but you know what? I’m over it, and besides that, this is exactly the sort of blatant dishonesty and desperate denialism I’m talking about, so why stay mad? If anything, she’s helped me demonstrate just how untrustworthy these people are.
For that, “Yourmamatoo,” I’d like to say thank you. And your screenies are below. Have a wonderful day! (click image to view full size so its legible)