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A Word about Words

Words matter.

Take, for example, the word “indecency.”

You cannot survey folks about this word because it does not have two sides. Nobody is “for” indecency. Everybody is “for” decency. Thus, by labeling a genre with a word that is, by definition, negative – and an inflamed negative at that – we create a prison for our ideas.

And there’s no busting out of this prison.

If you create a law that compromises civil rights in order to erect barriers to terrorism, you can call it the “Anti-Terrorism Law” or you can call it the “Patriot Act.” The former could also be argued to be “anti-American” while the latter…what could be more American than that?

If, say, you have a TV news network that dishes news and opion in blatantly conservative tones but you don’t want Joe Average to perceive that this conservative tint has tainted the news itself, what do you do? You call the news “Fair and Balanced,” of course. I may be against a Conservative agenda, but who can be against “Fair and Balanced”?

Likewise, supporters of abortion rights are not “Pro-Abortion”, they’re “Pro-Choice.” And their foes are not “Anti-Abortion” or “Anti-Choice,” their cause is “Right to Life.”

The words we use matter. They frame, form, and trap our ideas.

The free speech battle was lost the minute questionable speech was labeled “indecent.”

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