Virginia gives us a classic example of how Government typically uses language. The fenced in portion on the Virginia state grounds that does not allow weapons (which is an unlawful decree from Governor Northam) during lobby day is called, “The Freedom Zone.” The one geographic area where there is the least amount of freedom is labeled “the freedom zone.”
That is the way bureaucrats use language. They consistently label things the exact opposite of what they are. For example, we have the “Secretary of Defense” when he is actually the “Secretary of War.” For example, Obama gave us “The Affordable Care Act” when it is in reality “The Expensive non-Care Act.” For example, “The Civil Rights Act” took away our civil right of freedom of Association. For example, “Social Security,” leaves one financially insecure. For example, “Freedom of choice” is the negation of freedom of choice for the infant in Mommy’s womb. For example, “The Equal Rights Amendment” would have given feminists “special rights.” For example, “undocumented workers” masks “illegal aliens.” For example, “Birthright citizenship,” masks “anchor babies.” For example, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” is really comprehensive native population reform. For example, “Planned Parenthood,” is really “planned non-parenthood.” For example, “Terrorist” is really a White Male who attends Church every Sunday. For example, “enhanced interrogation,” is really torture. For example, “Welfare” is really enslavement. For example, “Pacification,” is really ethnic cleansing. For example, “Collateral damage,” is really “we killed lots of women and children.” For example, “Homeland security” really means controlling the citizenry. For example, “Responsible gun rights legislation,” means “we are coming for your guns.” We could go on but you get the idea. I’m sure you have your own examples.
Government uses this language not only for the obvious reason of masking what is really going on, but also as a means to sell the disreputable, vile, and disgusting to a brain dead public.
Linguistic Tomfoolery also happens when language is used in order to be sarcastic but eventually is embraced as non-sarcastic. The classic example of this is seriously calling Abraham Lincoln, “Honest Abe.” When the term “Honest Abe” was pinned to Lincoln it was done so by his political enemies in sarcasm. Yet today, people genuinely believe that Lincoln was known for his unique honesty. I suppose given enough time “Tricky Dick,” and “Slick Willy” will be spoken with the same reverence that we now use when we speak of “Honest Abe.”
All of this reminds us that the purpose of language is not only to reveal meaning but also, just as often, to conceal meaning. This is the way that savvy listeners and readers consume communication. Savvy readers and listeners are not only always listening for what is said but also for what is being hidden in what is being said. Personally, I never listen to a sermon, read a book, have a conversation, view a film, where I am not asking, “what is being concealed and hidden in this communication?” Of course the more I trust a person the more I let my guard down and correspondingly the less I trust someone the more intensely am I looking for linguistic tomfoolery.
This linguistic tomfoolery is never-ending in the Church. Whole theologies are just one relentless stream of linguistic tomfoolery. Some “theologians” will say they believe in the resurrection and later you find out they believe that “Jesus arose into history,” which is code language that he really didn’t physically resurrect. Some theologians will tell you that they believe that Jesus was divine and later you learn that they really believed that Jesus was a one of a kind human and inasmuch he was singularly unique in His character and spirit he should be considered divine. Many pastors will talk about equality when what they really mean is that white Christians need to surrender their convictions and churches and so be unequal. Seriously, I wouldn’t attend a church today without a handy dandy, readily available “What does he really mean” dictionary.
One sign of a social-order decline is when language is doing the work of concealing more than the work of revealing. And our culture is saturated with linguistic tomfoolery.