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Silencing Speech With Propaganda – NYTimes.com

June 27, 2011

Silencing Speech With Propaganda – NYTimes.com.

In a quasi-instructional though overtly one-sided piece, the “philosopher of language” Jason Stanley explains the obvious.  Language, pointedly used, can silence dissent.  Most people who have criticized the President’s policies and have quickly been rebutted as a racist are acutely aware of this fact, but it isn’t true until a philosopher in the Times points it out.

Here is the lede:

We might wish politicians and pundits from opposing parties to engage in reasoned debate about the truth, but as we know, this is not the reality of our political discourse.

Instead we often encounter bizarre and improbable claims about public figures. Words are misappropriated and meanings twisted. I believe that these tactics are not really about making substantive claims, but rather play the role of silencing. They are, if you will, linguistic strategies for stealing the voices of others. These strategies have always been part of the arsenal of politics. But since they are so widely used today, it is worth examining their underlying mechanisms, to make apparent their special dangers.

Awesome, we are gonna examine the underlying mechanisms (with examples I hope) to make apparent their special dangers.  Mechanism number one:

Silencing extends to politics when outlandish claims are made about public figures. Suppose that President Obama really was a secret Islamist agent, or born in Kenya. In that case, he would be grossly insincere. We would have no reason to believe what he said in any situation. The function of disseminating such claims about the president is not to object to his specific arguments or agenda. It is to undermine the public’s trust in him, so that nothing he says can be taken at face value.

Or Paul Ryan wants to kill old people.  Or Republicans want old people to “die quickly”.  Or Taliban Dan.  Or George Bush wants to poison your children (remember that one?), or he blew up the dykes in New Orleans, or…well you get the picture.

The next type of silencing according to the piece, is denying one the vocabulary to express their claims.  To a layman, I would call this Political Correctness, but to the Times, it is sorrowfully only done by the right:

…whatever one thinks of tax-cuts, or the estate tax, it is difficult to engage in reasoned debate when they have been respectively relabeled “tax relief” and “the death tax.” It is difficult to have a reasoned debate about the costs and benefits of a policy when one side has seized control of the linguistic means to express all the positive claims. It is easy to say “a tax cut is not always good policy,” but considerably more difficult to say “tax relief is not always good policy,” even though “tax relief” is just a phrase invented to mean the same as “tax cut.”

Of course, propaganda is all about the tax debate.  So the right invented the phrases “revenue enhancements”, “inflows” and “fairer revenue raise”?  Who could be against a “fairer revenue raise”?

Mr. Stanley isn’t done yet, he has yet to complete the trifecta necessary to show himself to be a total partisan hack, attacking Fox News:

Silencing is by no means limited to its target. The Fox channel engages in silencing when it describes itself as “fair and balanced” to an audience that is perfectly aware that it is neither. The effect is to suggest that there is no such thing as fair and balanced — that there is no possibility of balanced news, only propaganda. The result is the silencing of every news organ, by suggesting a generalized gross insincerity.

Wow, considering how stupid Fox is supposed to be, Stanley sure gives them a lot of credit for some underhanded sheise.

The sad thing is, this could have been a truly informative argument, instead it resulted in being a hit-piece against the right and a revelation of the character of a certain “philosopher of language”.

The total irony in the piece, is that condemning only the right as purveyors of these silencing tactics, he is participating in the actions that his article is supposed to elucidate.  If the right is the only side that partakes in such “propaganda” then are not our views silenced because they are suspect?  Ahh, what do I know?  I am just a lowly “philosopher of bulls**t”.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2011 2:35 pm

    ‘The sad thing is, this could have been a truly informative argument, instead it resulted in being a hit-piece against the right and a revelation of the character of a certain “philosopher of language”. The total irony in the piece, is that condemning only the right as purveyors of these silencing tactics, he is participating in the actions that his article is supposed to elucidate.’

    Spot on!! I was thinking the same thing. He showed how much of a hypocrite he is and that he is blind to the Left’s dirty tactics. He showed himself to be a partisan hack.

    • June 27, 2011 3:09 pm

      Yeah, its pretty sad. What’s worse is, even though the piece inspired 5 pages of comments, as far as I could see (didn’t read past page one), no one picked up on his hypocrisy.

  2. June 27, 2011 3:59 pm

    Ain’t it a bitch when we righties use lefty tactics against them. Boo-Hoo!

    • June 27, 2011 7:21 pm

      Yeah, but its all about intent. We do it because we are evil, they do it because they are good and just want what’s best for everyone.

  3. June 27, 2011 5:27 pm

    The only part of the NYT that I ever check is the list of bestsellers. Heh.

    • June 27, 2011 7:21 pm

      Its good fodder for posts, lol. I wouldn’t go there otherwise.

  4. JustFacts permalink
    June 27, 2011 6:20 pm

    Isn’t it always the case with Progressives. They accuse their opponents of the very same tactics that they are so quick to utilize. I guess it is just like in the old children’s saying “It takes one to know one.” But, in their own minds, they are so correct, they can’t possibly be accused of anything so malevolent.

    • June 27, 2011 7:24 pm

      Ahh, nice to see you back and commenting. =)

      What’s staggering is the multiple muddle-heads who comment at the Times never even noticed the hypocrisy. But I am the stupid one, because I like the Tea-Party. Oh and racist, islamophobic, a suspected terrorist (veteran, right-wing, etc.) and all sorts of other stuff – but none of those monikers is meant to marginalize my viewpoint, its all in good fun. =)

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