In describing to lawyers what deceit is in my ethics seminars (it is amazing how many layers don’t know what deceit is, though it is forbidden in the ethics rules), I often say that deceit is the official language of Washington, D.C. It’s a reliable laugh line, but it’s not funny. Using linguistic tricks to deceive and mislead the public is a tool of dangerous and untrustworthy governments, movements, leaders and politicians. I don’t know if this age old practice has become worse in recent years; to me it seems that way, but it could be an illusion. In the Sixties, leftists like Abbie Hoffman liked to use “liberate” as a synonym for “steal.”
The success of “Black Lives Matter” relied on a linguistic disorientation, like the old gag about a lawyer asking a witness, “When did you stop beating your wife?” What has been dismaying is how few people have the wit and courage to call out the trick and refuse to back down. The use of “immigrants,” “migrants,” “undocumented workers” and other deliberately misleading terms to hide the reality that the subject is law-breaking aliens has also been largely successful in bamboozling the public. “Affirmative action,” a nice and deceptive way to say “racial quotas,” is finally going down, but it kept the Constitution at bay for half a century. The all-time most sinister linguistic cheat, perhaps, is the use of the benign word “choice” to describe the right to kill unborn children.
Lately, the most prominent verbal deceit is embodied in the “Diversity-Equity-Inclusion” mantra, with “equity” serving as the cornerstone of the cheat. Most Americans—hey, thanks, public education system!—think that equity is just another word for equality. Now that Democrats and progressives are fully committed to socialism (while denying it—that’s not deceit, it’s just lying) they have been bombarding the public with the word without clarifying its implications. Equality means equality under the law; it means that every citizen has the same opportunity to accomplish what his or her talents, effort, ingenuity, determination, laws and the vagueries of fate and fortune allow without obstruction by the government. Equity means that every citizen should be guaranteed the same success to the extent government power can make such “equity” possible. It is based on the socialist/communist ideal that it is unfair that life provides unequal benefits , ability and advantages, so central power must ensure fairness by artificially eliminating as many disparities in these benefits , ability and advantages as possible.