Orwellian Thought Manipulation As An Ideological Tactic: A Case Study


Cognitive linguist  George Lakoff, a far left academic (but I repeat myself),  advises his partisan political brethren to build public opposition to the President’s regulation reform efforts by changing the word that we use to describe regulations:

President Trump has said that he intends to get rid of 75% of government regulations. What is a “regulation”?

The term “regulation” is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, “regulations” are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public’s viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public.

Imagine our minority President saying out loud that he intends to get rid of 75% of public protections. Imagine the press reporting that. Imagine the NY Times, or even the USA Today headline: Trump to Eliminate 75% of Public Protections. Imagine the media listing, day after day, the protections to be eliminated and the harms to be faced by the public.

Lakoff’s tactic is remarkable in its transparency. Increasingly, the Left has relied on misleading the public by injecting euphemisms and what I call “cover phrases” into policy debates and news reports to obscure the undesirable aspects of a favored measure, including its unethical nature, such as restricting  individual rights. Thus abortion, which involves trade-offs between two human lives and sets of rights, is referred to as “choice,” eliminating the life-taking aspect of the problem from the discussion entirely. Thanks to the efforts of Democrats with the cooperation of the communications media, race-based admission to educational institutions and hiring that may discriminate against whites and Asian-Americans are covered by the benign-sounding term, “affirmative action.” The most brazen of these linguistic cheats is the widespread practice of referring to illegal immigrants as immigrants, thus allowing advocates of unrestrained lawbreaking by uninvited aliens to tar good faith opponents  of open border and amnesty policies as xenophobes and racists.

Lakoff continues his cynical instruction  for aspiring Big Brothers:

  • Take the Public’s viewpoint instead of the corporate viewpoint.
  • Shift the frame: always say “protections” instead of “regulations.
  • “Protections” is a more simple and accurate description.
  • Remember that “regulations” represent the corporate viewpoint. It is not a neutral term, and it does not represent the public viewpoint.

He’s lying.

“Regulations” describe  what the measures are,  just as “laws” describes laws. That’s just not a corporate viewpoint; regulations affect, as in regulate, human liberty and autonomy as well as corporate conduct. The term is accurate and descriptive: words should say what things are, not distort them to appeal to “viewpoints.”  It is a completely neutral term. The fact that corporations make it clear that they hate regulations does not make the term itself misleading.

“Protections” in contrast, does not describe what regulations do, but rather what their proponents claim they achieve. It is certainly not a “more simple and accurate description.” It does signal the current orientation of Lakoff’s Left, in which personal liberty is deemed less important than “protections,” as in “safety,” “insulation from fears” (all the better to encourage fearmongering!) and cultural denigration of personal responsibility and responsibility.

Lakoff falsely implies, and wants his new label to imply, that regulations “protect” an amorphous public. Some do, but many, many do not. Bloggress Amy Alkon provides an all-too-typical example:

We eat only Kerrygold butter, which Gregg buys at Trader Joe’s. It’s from grassfed cows, and it’s delicious. Sorry, Wisconsinites! None for you! Not without a big-ass trip! From Fox News:

“Wisconsinites are trekking across state lines to get the butter that is now illegal to sell within their state: According to a Wisconsin law enacted in the 1970s, the state only allows Grade A milk products to be distributed within its borders, reports Milwaukee Magazine. But Kerrygold, the number-one imported butter brand in the U.S., isn’t issued a letter grade like American-made dairy products. Wisconsin has since banned the sale of the gold-and-silver foiled butter but Kerrygold is legal in all other states.

“Under Wisconsin legislation, retail butter for sale in Wisconsin must bear either a Wisconsin or federal grade mark,” explained Kerrygold’s parent company, Ornua North America, in a statement issued to the Irish Farmers Journal. “This effectively excludes Kerrygold butter being sold in Wisconsin because Kerrygold butter is graded, produced and packaged in Ireland.”

Lisa Miller, the marketing director at Ornua, adds that while Kerrygold’s inspection process is a “little bit different from the process here, the standards are universally very high.”

Still, Wisconsin dairy distributors who violate the law could face fines of $1000 or more– and up to six months in jail. Yes, grass-fed butter is now a “controlled substance” (of sorts) in Wisconsin.

Of course, it isn’t the public, but only Wisconsin dairy farmers who are being “protected”—protected from having to compete with a superior product.

The other obvious deception in Lakoff’s Orwelliam scheme is that it adopts the Left’s favorite delusion that costs don’t matter; as long as it’s “protection,” cost benefit considerations don’t apply.

It is foolish and dangerous to trust people who advocate using language to confuse and deceive, and we also shouldn’t trust the organizations and ideologies that support them.


Source: Advice Goddess Blog


44 thoughts on “Orwellian Thought Manipulation As An Ideological Tactic: A Case Study

  1. I have given up listening to the rants from the left of which this is another – just a yawn at this point. Their actions since the election have convinced me of one thing – I will never vote for a Democrat. That may sound harsh, but if they managed to package a combination Lincoln and Mother Theresa I will pass. This does not mean I will automatically vote for a Republican. I could vote for my favorite candidate – Mr. Blank. I voted for Johnson in the last scrum and maybe I can vote Green, Libertarian or Luddite the next time around?

  2. I’m surprised that Dept. of Education hasn’t latched on to this. But with Betsy DeVos at the helm now, it probably won’t happen. The term protection kind of reminds me of how the Mafia operates.

  3. Manipulation of propaganda rhetoric is something an unethical psychologist or psychiatrist would suggest as a method of brainwashing the public. I’m seeing more and more of this intellectually dishonest and unethical brainwashing crap in anti-Trump propaganda and pro political left propaganda every day, the purpose is to gin up hate.

  4. The concept of using the term protection as a substitute for regulation is well underway. Consider the EPA which effectively created the water problems in California when it imposed regulations to “protect” a small fish.
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is another example.
    I suppose it’s all on what side of the table you sit. The problem that I see is that the many who seek these “protections” are the first to complain when the outcome harms them.

    Perhaps if we had demanded that we create a Lenders Financial Protection Bureau which prevented high risk individuals from having access to capital and forced all borrowers to become technically competent in understanding their responsibilities then we might not have had a situation in which many borrowers defaulted on their obligations which led to the need of a governmental bail out the financial services industry. Can I get an AMEN from Senator Warren!

    • Well, Chris, we did have lending responsibility at one time. But we all know what eventually happened when “feel good” legislation is indroduced. Thank you for your mention of my senior senator – off to the vomitorium.

      • When they allowed banks to buy Mortgages (reversing a 1930s ‘protection’ that arose from that malpractice, and contributed to the Great Depression) we started down that road again. Banks become predatory, and then realized that they do not have to lend to make money. And many cannot buy houses today as a direct result.

        • Well, Slick, a banker friend warned me back around Y2K that disaster awaits. The government was opening up market opportunities and those locked out who could finally have the dream and pass on inherited wealth. His comment was it was simply “nuts.” Paper being written with the idea you could just pay off that nasty money due from your adjustable with a refinance or equity. His bank (a small community one) had one foreclosure. They had strict requirements and kept the paper themselves.

        • Ummm. No. It was FNMA/FMAC that had bad loans, which “regulation” mandated that institutions carry a certain amount of in their portfolio, which led to mechanisms for them to cover the loss, as “regulation” requires them to have a certain amount of liquidity.

          Not that the companies themselves are paragons of integrity, or the boards would’ve fired the CEOs who took on too much risk in a hot market (“what could go wrong, we’re printing as much money as the treasury!”).

          But why worry about losses when the government will bail your company out? Or ruin a perfectly good river in Colorado, etc…. Government is no better, and arguably as a whole worse than, the corporations you seem to disparage. There was a reason our founders sought to limit its reach.

        • Slick

          Are you referencing Glass – Steagall? That act simply separated the activities of commercial banks and investment banks. Glass Steagall prevented commercial banks from speculative investments and prevented investment banks from taking deposits from unaccredited investors such as John Q Public.

          Mortgages were not the major problem in the Thirties. Very few people were eligible given that no govt guarantee agencies existed. The problem in the thirties was that banks were speculating in the stock markets.

          • “The problem in the thirties was that banks were speculating in the stock markets.”

            Which we again have, as they have dried up the lending after being given taxpayer money to lend out.

            I never said this was the major problem from the thirties, I simply pointed out that it was addressed then among many other items, good or bad.

      • Rick

        I know. I just wanted to point out that we used to have regs that prevented people from achieving the “American Dream” of home ownership which was roundly condemned by some who felt the outcome of responsible lending was discriminatory.

        We also had usuary laws. Today we have penalty rates that mirror loanshark rates ; hardly protecting consumers.

        Why do these exist? Because certain markets are disproportionately affected by tough lending practices and subject to politically inspired shakedowns. Responsible lenders are damned no matter what they do .

  5. Another example of the political left’s Orwellian thought manipulation is the popular expression: “Commonsense gun safety measures”. This translates to mean in “Oldspeak”: “Any severely restrictive limitation on the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms that we, meaning the political elite, can get away with.” The political left does not like to use the expression “gun control” any more because it too accurately describes the actual intent to disarm the American citizens.

    • I really hate the term “common sense,” especially when applied to laws. Politicians describe measures as “common sense” when they don’t want you to think about them.

      • Has anyone who called for commonsense gun control ever called for repealing the handgun ban in D.C.? Or may-issue pistol permit laws?

  6. These display errors are really frustrating, this code works everywhere else I go online. Here is my last attempt at posting a link format with blank lines for people to copy and paste.

    <a href= "__________________">____________<⁄a >

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