Tag Archives: George Orwell

Words matter

Supervisor Ron Meyer

Supervisor Ron Meyer

George Orwell, author of “1984,” made the point that language has the power in politics to mask the truth and mislead the public.

In “1984,” in his novel, he coined the phrase “Newspeak,” referring to the abuse of language by the government.

In Loudoun County, we have long had a “transition” area in the County’s Comprehensive Plan, serving as a buffer between western Loudoun (rural) and eastern Loudoun (suburban).

Every Members of the Board of Supervisors knows what that means.

In a recent County study, inviting us to “envision” the future, we were told there is a “market” demand to add 50,000 residential units to our already over-crowded County.

Citizens have said loud and clear – we do not want 50,000 more units – not in the West or the East or the Transition area,

When the “vision” statement for the “new and improved” comprehensive plan was considered by the Board of Supervisors last week, a majority of the Board favored myopia, narrowing the County’s “vision,” and kicking the County’s long-held land use policy of “transition” to the curb.

Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) feigned a misunderstanding of the English language when he said, “As far as saying something’s a transition setting, I’m not sure what that means in the English language.”

If Mr. Meyer suffered a language lapse, he could have consulted a dictionary.

Merriam Webster says a “transition” is the “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another.”

Loudoun’s “transition” area is a “passage” from suburban development through mixed development to rural development.

Mr. Meyer understood perfectly what and where the transition area was when, as a Board candidate in 2015, he answered the Chamber’s questionnaire, faulting the Comprehensive Plan, including the Transition area, under review and subject to revision now.

Mr. Meyer said, “Current planning does not reflect community realities in this [transition] area and it will be vital to better plan the transportation network and land use polices to ‘fill in the gap’ in a smart and responsible way between suburban areas in Ashburn and Leesburg in this small corner of the Transition Area (underscoring supplied).”

Mr. Meyer’s shoddy mimicry of Orwell’s “Newspeak” sought to eliminate “transition” to compromise any thought or memory of the policy that has preserved and protected the County’s special character.

Nor did Mr. Meyer stop with his faux misapprehension of what “transition” meant.

Mr. Meyer swelled with intolerant and disrespectful humor, when he said, “What is the transition setting, does that have to do with someone’s gender identity?’” Continue reading

Truth

Some mistake shadows for truth

Some mistake shadows for truth

We do not need to read the philosophy of Wittgenstein or Socrates to know what is true or false.

But perhaps we need to review what goes awry in human psychology when a person with a seemingly right functioning mind defies what is known to be transparently true and argues instead for what is patently false.

Some clearly suffer an impaired cognitive function when their operative principle is that they wouldn’t see it — if they didn’t already believe it.

Plato devised an allegory of citizens in a cave, locked in position, looking forward, seeing only the reflected shadows before them on a wall projected by unseen actors behind them; shadows were their reality.

Others know very well what is true but they lie as a means to an unworthy end.

Daily, more of our family, friends and neighbors indulge a vacation from what’s true in order to persuade others that something is true that they know to be false.

When I was young, I read a book, titled, “You can trust the communists to be communists.”

This meant that “truth,” as defined for the communists, was whatever was necessary to manipulate the public.

The study of rhetoric to deceive and manipulate a people originated with the sophists of ancient Greece.  Socrates spoke against their machinations, insisting they caused social instability.  We are presently challenged with instability in our government and our policies because of these same rhetorical pirouettes, and we must succeed where Socrates failed lest our nation sip the deadly hemlock that took Socrates.

George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

We are not yet “in [that] time of universal deceit” but deceit has intrusively implicated itself in our public dialogue and its disabling effects are manifest.

Some optimists say our nation has survived worse.

Sir Francis Bacon warned that our minds are wired to deceive us and we should “[b]eware the fallacies into which undisciplined thinkers most easily fall” for these fallacies are “the real distorting prisms of human nature” and the worst may be the assumption that there is “more order than exists in chaotic nature.”

The fallacy of inductive thinking is the notion that because something happened in the past that it will happen in the future; this fallacy is explored exhaustively in a marvelous book, the Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  Continue reading

Alternative law

“Alternative Facts” – we all know now – means to lie to confound and manipulate the public.

The Courts declare what is law and what is constitutional, not the White House

The Courts declare what is law and what is constitutional, not the White House

Instead of accepting the facts, when they are plainly evident, Mr. Donald Trump lies, for instance, about how many folk attended his inauguration.

If journalists don’t accept the lies Mr. Trump tells, Mr. Trump hounds and ridicules journalists and anyone else in tweets and sets upon the press his mad dog press secretary who performs like a thoughtless school yard bully you would have popped in the mouth when you were a kid.

Another great whopper, viral on social media, told by the conning Ms. KellyAnne Conway, a Trump adviser, was that there was a “Bowling Green Massacre” by mid-east terrorists when, in truth and fact, no massacre ever occurred.

Ms. Conway claimed this “imagined” massacre justified Mr. Trump’s unlawful and unconstitutional ban on Muslim immigrants from seven mostly Muslim nation states.

George Orwell in a spectacular essay, “Politics and the English Language,” warned that “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts,” and, when published, such “language can also corrupt thought.”  Continue reading