Thursday, February 16, 2006

Reject and Respond: Two Non-Words

The government's use of Orwellian Terminology is reaching a subtle point of saturation Here are some examples.

Reject: Whenever the government doesn't like something, they 'reject' it. When the UN says conditions at Guantanamo Bay are 'tantamount to torture,' White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan 'rejects' the claim. When Al Gore claimed that the government "has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses," McClellan's response was "I reject that wholeheartedly." In responding to Michael Brown's allegations of miscommunication and foulups in DHS in responding to Hurricane Katrina, Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff 'rejected' his allegations.

The definition of reject (thanks is:

  • To refuse to accept, submit to, believe, or make use of.
  • To refuse to consider or grant; deny.
  • To refuse to recognize or give affection to (a person).
  • To discard as defective or useless; throw away. See Synonyms at refuse1.

None of this speaks to truth or falsehood, correctness or inaccuracy. Thus a government spokesman can 'reject' a statement without confirming or denying the truth of it.

Respond: McClellan is famous for using this one. "I already responded to that question" is one of his favorite phrases, especially when reporters ask again and again in an effort to get a straight answer. I have to take issue with here, in that it considers 'answer' to be a synonym to 'response.' Evidently McClellan's responses are not considered answers by frustrated reporters who repeat their queries in search of usable information. Thus, "I already responded to that question" really means "What I already said was not really an answer, but I've said what I'm going to say on this and I won't say any more."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this entry. The government uses so many nonsensical words to confuse the issue and the populace. - Pam