Tag Archives: Awareness

The Abuse and Misuse of Common Words in Politics

Etymology: an explanation of where a word came from : the history of a word

As we all know, words have meanings. Some words are pretty universally understood, but others start as meaning one thing, then become something entirely different in the common vernacular. This is often due to someone who knows the etymology behind the word, sharing it with those who don’t, then those people who don’t sharing it in ways it was not intended for because they didn’t really understand it.17141936-abstract-word-cloud-for-etymology-with-related-tags-and-terms-stock-photo1

So let’s look at a few.

Liberal:  of freedom, pertaining to or befitting a free man

At the root of liberal is liber (also at the root of libertarian, liberty, etc.), a latin word meaning free (man); unimpeded; void of; independent| outspoken/frank; licentious; idle.

These days, this word is often used to be a generic term to describe people who often vote Democrat. Yet Democrat policies often around increased government spending on social programs and wealth redistribution—policies quite contradictory to the “free man” aspect of liberal.

In other countries, “liberal” is often synonymous with libertarian. This is why you hear many liberty-minded people abroad refer to themselves as classic liberals.liberalism-definition-then-and-now1

It is fairly well understood that although Republicans were the party responsible for the civil rights of the black community, both in ending slavery and in the 50s and 60s during the civil rights movement, Republicans have had a shoddy reputation with the gay community, marijuana users, the sex-work industry, and other individuals who seemed to exhibit what Republicans refer to as “deviant” behavior.

Democrats, to their credit, have been quicker to show tolerance towards such people, and in those instances, accurately describe themselves as liberals—or at least more liberal than Republicans. From there, the name just stuck.

America has a pretty anti-socialist history, so when Democrats champion socialistic policies, calling themselves socialists would not typically help their cause, although Bernie Sanders may have disproven that theory. So picking “liberal” over “socialist,” if intentionally used to mislead, would have been pretty smart anyway.

Awareness: having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge

Often when people are championing a cause, they universally just say they want to raise awareness, when they really should be saying money for research or help.bigstock-awareness-level-conceptual-met-518681621

For instance, breast cancer, thanks to efforts by organizations like the Susan B. Komen foundation, is one of the most popular charitable enterprises dedicated to helping millions of women who are, or will be, affected by the disease.

As such, almost everyone is aware of breast cancer—what is needed is money for research.

The term AWAREness started being used correctly as a way to make people more AWARE of causes they may not know about. For instance, the current Zika virus issue, emanating from a foreign country, and just recently migrating to the United States, was largely an unknown in America until the media started raising awareness.

Once people are aware however, you have a better chance of raising money if needed, or if it’s more of a cause to change people’s behavior, such as a new improved health discovery that may be discovered, which is free to do, you just need to make people aware they should do it.

Establishment: a group of social, economic, and political leaders who form a ruling class (as of a nation)

President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama delivers a health care address to a joint session of Congress at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

This word is almost entirely derogatory in nature, even though it shouldn’t be. It’s very rare you have a politician willfully claim to be “The Establishment,” due to the negative perception the term has. I’d argue they should claim it proudly, however.

Be proud that you were elected, and proud of the work you’ve done. Let people know that if they’re displeased with “The Establishment,” that maybe it’s not because of them, but instead, the people who didn’t vote with them.

Politicians who are currently elected and serving are the establishment, whether they like that term or not. Those who are not currently sitting, are not. It’s really that simple.

Theory: a coherent group of propositions formulated to explain a group of factsor phenomena in the natural world and repeatedly confirmed through experiment or observation

There are multiple versions of the word theory, and it’s important to distinguish them, and not intermix them wrongly.
Some equate the word theory to a simple guess—you have a question, conjure up an answer, and BAM!…theory.
However, a theory isn’t a guess. A theory, in science, is something that has been thoroughly tested, and through such testing, consistently confirmed.
Simply put, a theory has scientific work behind it, and has no conflicting evidence. A guess has zero work behind it, and could just as easily be false as it is true.
Mandate:  the power to act that voters give to their elected leaders
Once elected, when political talking heads start discussing the incoming president or congress, they often ask, “Do you think the incoming president has a mandate?
It’s asked as if mandate is clearly defined in some way, when it simply isn’t. If the elected person won, they have a vote (if in congress), or a veto pen if they’re an executive. If they got the most votes, that means the majority chose them to use those powers in a way that’s commensurate with the ideals. they proclaimed during the election.
There’s no situation, by definition, where one elected official has a mandate while another does not—it’s an entirely subjective term. So when asking the question, it shouldn’t be, “Does this elected official have a mandate?” Instead, it should be, “Do you feel the elected official has a mandate?”
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Tolerance: It isn’t always the moral high ground

I must confess, I hate buzzwords. Take “awareness” for example. Every October, we have “Breast Cancer Awareness” month. Is there really anyone in the developed world who isn’t aware of breast cancer? We don’t need awareness, we need money to fund research for a cure.

Awareness is a word that would be appropriate for things like the current Ebola scare where money isn’t necessarily what’s needed; people also need to be aware of how it is contracted, aware of how at risk they are, aware of what it actually is, etc.

Ebola Virus
Ebola Virus

As with many buzz words, “awareness” started off being used appropriately, then turned into a bastardized version of itself as people started applying it to every cause of the week. It’s not unlike the word “liberal,” which has a meaning quite the opposite of the ideology that drives most people today who describe themselves as such.

The buzzword I want to discuss however, which seems to be common in the current lexicon, is “tolerance.” The concept being that to each their own, live and let live, etc. This ideology is the core of libertarianism.

Democrats may claim to be the ones who are most tolerant of gays wanting to marry for example, but even our president was against it at the time of his election; libertarians were for it all along.  The Libertarian Party is the true party of tolerance, and always has been. It is refreshing to see that sentiment is permeating through to the other two parties though, liberty is a principle that is near and dear to us all, thankfully. Some just take longer than others to champion it for those who are different from them.Don't Tread On Me

I’ve outlined many times that issues are generally broken up into two categories: subjective and factual. The problem with “tolerance” is that much like “awareness” people often want to apply it in places where it doesn’t belong.

Would you tolerate someone who argues that two plus two is five or that the sun revolves around the Earth? We all have a right to our opinions, but no one has a right to their own “facts.” Facts stand on their own, despite whatever opinion someone may have; this is important to understand when dealing with the idea of being tolerant.

Whether it be gay rights, music preferences, or taste in cuisine, it is not uncommon to see people who are wrongfully intolerant of those choices by insulting them or demeaning them for such choices. Disrespecting someone or infringing on their rights because they disagree with you on such matters is always going to be an immoral practice.

The problem arises when people expect you to be tolerant on matters of fact. Since I’m quite opinionated, it’s not uncommon for me to lash out at people who I deem to be misrepresenting the truth. The difference between myself and someone who is intolerant, is I do so with people who make claims which aren’t supported by the evidence. Especially when they feel the need to disrespect me for not agreeing with them.

When I rightfully tell these people they are wrong, such as my last post about people who promote alternative medicine, I was not being intolerant, I’m protecting others from their lies (or non-facts if I give them credit for just being ignorant versus malicious). But I’m also making it clear I am not one to accept false information as fact. This distinction has a very fine line though.539838_10150934532972695_942140407_n-560x700[1]

Veganism and vegetarianism are perfect examples. There are two reasons to choose this dietary lifestyle. Some do so because they don’t want to be part of a group who exploits animals. This is a matter of opinion, and no one should rightfully disrespect them for taking that position. It’s a perfect example of when you should be tolerant.

But, if a vegan/vegetarian makes a claim that they have done so for health reasons, that is a claim of biological fact and should be scrutinized. Many studies have been done on the health effects of veganism, and it consistently has the opposite effect, depending on which aspect of health you’re focusing on. ScienceBasedMedicine.org has done a good job of gathering much of this information here. So choosing this lifestyle for that reason is not a call for tolerance, but for skepticism instead.

I’m not promoting the idea of taking that lifestyle away from a vegan/vegetarian, they have the right to choose so for whatever reason they’ve decided. But I won’t tolerate them encouraging others to choose that lifestyle for health reasons with no evidence to support that claim. They are essentially giving medical advice without a medical degree or any scientific evidence supporting them. Since the facts often don’t support their argument, it would be immoral for me to let such falsehoods go unchallenged.

The purpose of promoting tolerance is about the morality of judging someone based on their beliefs, not tolerating them spreading potentially harmful lies and/or misinformation. As P.C. Hodgell wrote in Seeker’s Mask, “That which can be destroyed by the truth, should be.”

This brings me to my “friends” on the left, because this principle applies to politics just the same. I strive to be tolerant of someone who prefers socialism, acknowledging that it’s OK for them to want a system where we collectively work towards a common good and pool our resources accordingly; all being managed by a benevolent governing body.Statism-c-c[1]

But they rarely give us liberty-minded folks the same deference. They argue socialism works, blatantly disregarding the historical evidence of socialism. But more importantly, they vote in people who force socialism onto me.

If I force liberty onto them, they would have the freedom to enter into their own oppressive sanctuary if they chose to. But if they force socialism onto me, I don’t have the option to be free. Clearly, I am not the intolerant one.