Unlike the previous posts in this series, here we will consider a technique instead of the abuse of a particular word. Here we will consider how loaded words divide us. We will begin by defining the expression, “loaded words”. Then we will discuss some examples of how loaded words are being used. Finally, we will consider how some people are dividing us by so corrupting the language that every word we use is becoming loaded.
Defining The Expression
Let’s begin by defining the expression “loaded words”. Here is a straightforward definition from Yahoo! Answers.
Loaded words are words (or phrases) which have strong emotional overtones or connotations and which evoke strongly positive (or negative) reactions beyond their literal meaning.
While few words have no evaluative overtones, “plant” is a primarily descriptive term. “Weed”, in contrast, has essentially the same descriptive meaning as “plant”, but a negative evaluative meaning, as well. A weed is a plant of which we disapprove.
Loaded language is a subfallacy of Begging the Question, because to use loaded language fallaciously is to assume an evaluation that has not been proved, thereby failing to fulfill the burden of proof. For this reason, Jeremy Bentham dubbed this fallacy “Question-Begging Epithets”.
In other words, with loaded words we give our judgement of a person, a place, an animal, a vegetable or a thing. If we use a loaded word just to concisely state an opinion (Crabgrass is a weed.), that is an appropriate usage. On the other hand, if we use a loaded word to “win” an argument, that’s not logical. Sometimes it is utterly comical.
Arguments With And Over Words
Politics, sales, and life itself revolves around persuading others to accept our judgement. If we can get the other to accept and to adopt our language — to use the same loaded words we use — logical or not we win the argument. Hence the importance of loaded words.
Here is a clear and unambiguous example, Does it matter if Obama uses the term ‘Islamic terrorism’? The expression “Islamic terrorism” suggests that Islam is part of the problem the problem of terrorism. Hence Donald Trump, who endorses the phrase, wants to stop immigration from Islamic nations, and Barack Obama, who will not concede that Islam is part of the problem, refuses to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism”.
So it is that when we debate issues, we carefully use loaded words. That includes labeling ourselves and each other. In addition, we label our work and the things we produce. Consider.
- Trying to associate themselves with our nation’s founders, Democrats use to call themselves Liberal. Then, after they had fouled term “Liberal”, they started calling themselves “Progressives”. What’s next? This article, Democratic voters increasingly embrace the ‘liberal’ label – especially whites, Millennials and postgrads, demonstrates how short our memories can be.
- Some Atheists try to associate themselves with the word “reason”. Hence some Atheists rallied under the banner of Reason.
- This one is kind of funny. RationalWiki.org has a prominent post that defines Loaded language. Given the title of their website, they should know.
- Here in Loaded Words we have a discussion of how we should label Dylann Storm Roof, the man who walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine black parishioners.
- Here in Loaded Words we have a discussion of the problems scientists have naming a new biotechnology or biomedical process.
The terms that scientists and researchers select to name a new biotechnology or biomedical process can impact the public’s perception of the advance and willingness to consider its potential clinical utility. Terms such as “cloning” or “gene editing” are not ethically neutral. In fact, while the use of these terms may be provocative and increase readership of news stories and even articles in peer-reviewed journals, such value-laden names may directly impact the ethical acceptability of new technologies as well as government policies related to these innovations. (continued here)
In a free society, we each have the right to do as we wish so long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others. That is, if it is not illegal, you and I can do it. Thus, in a free country we can pursue our own definition of happiness, but we cannot force others either to participate in or to condone our actions. In fact, others have the right to disapprove of our behavior. Therefore, if we defy social conventions or customs, those who disapprove can subject us to various forms of censure including ostracism and shaming. Generally, the people of a healthy community discourage antisocial behavior primarily by enforcing local customs. Because it is costly and inflexible, legal action is usually the last resort.
Unfortunately, communities sometimes abuse their social powers. Therefore, the Federal Government has stepped in to “fix things”. So our once relatively healthy society is suffering an epidemic of identity politics. That is, instead of treating all people equally before the law, government leaders now think it is their job to provide “special” constituencies “special” protection. How does that involve loaded words?
- We regularly hear our leaders using a slew of loaded words we associate with identity politics: discrimination, bigotry, profiling, hate crime, favoritism, civil rights, affirmative action, equal treatment, harassment, and so forth.
- We regularly hear our leaders glorify identity politics with loaded words: diversity, multiculturalism, tolerance, rainbow, social justice, healing, and so forth.
- Nobody wants to be seen as intolerant.
- Everyone, especially businesses, are afraid of being sued.
- We make a Federal case out of everything.
- We have way too many lawyers and numerous other people using identity politics as their cash cow.
- We cannot think objectively, especially when our identity is involved.
So it is that in the name of diversity, we do some strange things. Here is a personal example. Years ago I wrote Reviling Christian Fundamentalism. What that post explains is how and why I discriminated against Christians. Thanks to indoctrination with the load words “Jesus freak”, I had bigoted opinion of Christians Fundamentalists.
Here is something more recent (what inspired this post). This past week I watched an exchange between two female bloggers. First LeeLee wrote Of Course Women Are Objects, and insanitybytes22 responded with “Women as Objects?” Trying to explain herself, then wrote Aftercare. In comments on each others blogs, and debated fiercely, but — why?
Neither nor argued women should be treated as sex objects. Instead, they argued over whether people are objects. Since resolving their dispute is not germane to this post, I have no interest in taking sides. What I want my readers to observe is that the loaded words “sex object” are so powerful that these loaded words prevented the ladies from participating in a worthwhile discussion.
Relief For The Disconnected: Conclusion
What do loaded words like “Jesus freak” and “sex object” do? Either they push us apart, or they express just how disconnected we are.
Dictionary.com defines people as objects. Even my 1956 edition of Funk & Wagnalls’ New Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language suggests human beings are objects. Yet as objects we each stand alone. As objects we see only from our own point of view. As objects we know only of our own needs.
In this Propaganda Age, words storm and rage. Words toss us about. We drift apart and collide violently. Our flesh is too weak; it has no power to resist.
John 6:63 New King James Version (NKJV)
63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
The Bible, the Word of God, speaks to our spirit, the spirit within our flesh. Thus, the Bible anchors us. When storms of words disquiet our souls, we need to turn to our Lord and His Word.
For more posts in this series please see OF TWISTED WORDS => FEMINISM.