Many of today’s words that you hear are conflated, intended to confuse, or completely misused. When people corrupt language to serve their own purposes, it adds to the corruption of society.
Where do I start? How about “stimulate the economy.” That phrase came out in the ’60s. It really just means “print up money.” They don’t use it much anymore because they can see it no longer results in stimulus; rather, the opposite. Now it’s called “quantitative easing.” Everyone uses it without questioning that it means “print money,” “inflate the currency,” or “debase the currency.” And that is a fact.
Which brings me to the next misused word, “factoid.” On its face, factoid would lead one to believe it is a minor fact. The proper word for that is factette. A factoid is actually an artificial fact, or something that looks like a fact. Think about an asteroid. An asteroid is something that looks like a star but isn’t. Likewise, a factoid is something that looks like a fact but isn’t. When you next hear a national media figure spout a factoid about the Trump administration, you now know it is an artificial fact or something that looks like a fact but isn’t. Come to think of it, the media has been accused of using false facts. Maybe they know exactly what a factoid is, but are counting on your ignorance.
Another word heard a lot lately is “diversity.” “We’ve got to have diversity.” No, we don’t have to have diversity. I don’t see why every room needs to have a few blacks, Hispanics or women. Well, of course, half of the human race are women. Isn’t it odd that men are never invited to ladies’ functions? Most men don’t care, but some women want into men’s functions.
I form my friendships based upon neither diversity nor a lack of diversity, although there’s a natural tendency to associate with people like yourself. Rather, they are based upon the character and the beliefs that a person has. The attributes that create diversity are stupid accidentals. The fact that diversity is emphasized draws attention to incidentals like race, sex, and gender, and diverts it from important things like character and beliefs. Diversity has become destructive.
“Unity” has also become problematic. That’s another one politicians love to invoke: “We’ve got to have unity.” No, we don’t have to have unity. In fact, we shouldn’t have unity. Unity is dangerous. It’s what happens when everyone gets together and starts hooting and panting to create a war. People like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao required unity. Besides, no liberal has ever been able to explain to me how you can have both diversity and unity, at least not by dictionary definition.
OK, what about “free speech?” Forget it. No one seems to know what that is anymore. Free speech is no longer defined accurately. Freedom of speech is now equated to hate speech, at least among liberals and left-leaning politicians. Let’s face it, most of what is today called hated speech is simply bad taste or stupidity.
The remainder is what you simply ignore, because if you don’t you give it credibility. That concept seems to escape the over-educated folks at today’s universities. Of course, if it were ignored, professors probably wouldn’t be able to develop curricula. Further, what is wrong with hate speech? There are a lot of things worth hating because they are evil or destructive. Would you rather not have those brought to the fore? If ignored, will they go away?
Hate speech seems to now have evolved into aggressive speech. I suppose by writing this I have engaged in some minds in aggressive speech. That is another new phrase that falls in nicely with microaggression. By definition, a microaggression would be an extremely small aggression; however, it has been morphed into something that apparently calls for campus safe spaces. My new definition for safe space is “an area for weenies who refuse to grow up and accept that life isn’t fair.” Is that hate speech or just free speech?
There you are. I hope this helps you know a factoid when you see it. It is like government health care. It doesn’t exist. Health care is something you do for yourself, like diet and exercise. Medical care insurance is what the government wants to shove down your throat. Government health care is a factoid. My free speech is a fact. Take your microaggression and put it in a safe space.
Tom Riggins’ column appears every other Friday. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.