Language to Control Fears
Plans for paedophile lie tests, but what I'm getting interested in is the use of language as a technology for shaping people. Many are quite aware already that when you want to control people's thoughts, influencing the use of words towards your own persuasion is one of the most powerful techniques, a point which Orwell picked out fantasically with his invention of newspeak. By subtly biasing the way people think, it possible to get people to do things they wouldn't otherwise allow.
Here, today, we see an increasing distance placed between those we wish to castigate, and those that politicians or CEOs wish to keep the popular vote of - a deliberate, linguistic gulf placed to coo those who are easily cooed, at the cost of this week's victim.
From the article...
"What we are looking for now is to make these pilots mandatory so that we can fully assess the effectiveness of lie-detector tests in helping to monitor sex offenders and ensure the safety of the public."
My bold emphasis, to highlight the distinction inserged between the "no-gooders", and "the good people" - the body of people consisting of straight, free people that we all wish we were. Yes indeed, many of us would consider ourselves to be "public". But therein lies the danger of such a vaguity - what exactly does spring to mind when one mentions "the public", and how does it differ according to who's saying it, and the effect they want to achieve? How do you know that your idea of "the public" at any one time is the same as who is actually in the system, and being controlled by it.
Take, for instance, the plight of the established music industry. They are, on one hand, suing the "freewheeling file-sharers" and the "copyright-thieves" that threaten the future of the music industry to the detriment of "the public". (I paraphrase the quotations, I can't be arsed to look up real quotes, but it wouldn't be difficult.) But in reality, the two are one and the same - the public are the infringers, and "ordinary" people are the ones being sued. Why? Market forces, or at least the same reasons that lead to market forces - everyone wants as much as possible for as little as they can. Yet the music industry repeatedly attempts to define a boundary between the criminal and the non-criminal - the bad and the good.
This is exactly the same tactic used by the Home Office, and by many other politicians and "controlling" bodies through time and space. By generating a conceptual divide between one specific "type" of person (whether it be paedophiles, louts, environmental activists, terrorists, etc) and "everyone else", who would never even think of entering into such abnormal acts, a very real atmosphere of difference has been placed into the minds of the majority of people - after all, very few of us show tendencies for all evils defined above. However I have yet, in my own personal capacity, to come across any evidence that even attempts to claim that such dramatic differences actually exist, or to claim that in a population, certain types of person are naturally law-abiding subjects, while other types are wholely given over to committing unspeakable acts, or are monsters-by-birth whose only salvation is to be put down. (Of course, such solution are now seen as "inhumane", and so locking them away became the next best thing. But then, that turned out to be too expensive and resource-intensive, so technology must now be used to keep track of them, if physical captivity is not a viable method.) Where then, does this gap exist? Only in our minds, surely.
Yes, people in this world do things that cause consternation to others. But this is very different, IMHO, to saying that there are people in this world that do so, and therefore place the stress on the idea that there are categories hidden amongst us, like a sixpence in a cake, that must be found, driven out, and disposed of. We are all people, we are all public, and we are all to some extent the product of the society that we grow up in, and to twist speeches to say that some unavoidable affliction - genetic, unspecified, or other - is the root distinction between abnormality and normality, or criminality and righteousness, is a dead-end alleyway, a wild goose chase.
Defining the rules of our society, making those who know no better afraid of breaking the rules, and then openly highlighting and ostracising those who are outside the rules is an ancient art, practiced - often successfully - by those that wish to maintain control but gain popular support for doing so. And such techniques end up all-too-often in mob-style witch-hunt affairs - a practice that I suspect the majority would tut at, but would instantly mirror to be justified by their own instilled fears. Those who are aware of history, but that define its evils in terms of time, rather than humanity, are also doomed to repeat it, but with different technology. We are lucky now, for example, to be on the verge of openly accepting homosexuality not as some "irregularity" that we must accept, but as a very real state of mind. We have gotten over much of the fear that didn't necessarily repress thoughts of homosexuality, but that did keep it, in the wider eye of "the public", as an evil, or an unnatural abhorrence. And the fact that it occupied this prestigious placement within people's minds was due to the ongoing aspersions cast on those that were homosexual, the threats made against the idea, and the apparent wish of individuals to keep in line to avoid whatever punishment the hierarchy promised to them at the time.
The government wishes to rule through fear - not a fear of state control by the people, but fear of the people by the people. To take back control, to avoid the stupid anguish and pain and futile goose-chasing witnessed again and again, we need to first realise that we cannot let ourselves be defined by some over-anxious lawmakers intent on hammering our will into buckets in order to prevent ourselves from somehow harming ourselves. We must remember that, above all else, tolerance is the key to living as we want to live, and to letting others live as they want to live, without resorting to violence and hatred. And thus to let ourselves be shaped into something that we may not want to be is no better than being forced to live a strictly religious lifestyle, or living under a harsh, totalitarian regime - we may fool ourselves into thinking that by adopting a stance as wanted by those that have power over us, we are free from punishment and threat under any of these scenarios, but we are not, in any sense, free to live.
In short, beware those that claim that others are fundamentally "different" to you - they are probably only trying to either justify their own shortcomings, or are attempting to play to your supposed deficiencies - as defined by them in the first place - for their own ends. Especially be wary of anyone that sets up a proportion of people as being inherently and overwhelmingly sinful. Instead, know who you are, realise that we all have faults, and then take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions. Those who become outraged at this last point have probably already come under the spell of alarm sewn into them. Those that understand it must cling to it.
To rant about:
- Using language to "hide" fear... Stretching the definition of "voluntary" to breaking point
- Tie this into Newspeak, which stripped out "useless" words... but does that make thihgs clear? Or more vague and ambiguous?