Deconstructing absurdity

P.J. O’Rourke provides an example of deconstructing words to illustrate the absurdity and bias that might not be otherwise explicit. He says The Times Loses It.

Nor can it be called news analysis, beginning as it does with an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy: “The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords .  .  . set off what is likely to be a wrenching debate over anger and violence in American politics.”

If self-fulfilling prophecies were wanted from reporters​—​and they are not​—​a better one would have been “Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Mental Health Policies.”

But antigovernment ramblings coming from outside the government are so sinister that they are sinister whether they are sinister or not. “And regardless of what led to the episode,” Hulse and Zernike say, “it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.”

To maintain that there’s a lack of evidence for such a sweeping statement would be inaccurate since Hulse and Zernike themselves are doing what they claim is being done. And given the tight deadlines of a Sunday edition they have focused their attention quickly indeed.

There is more taking the deconstruction down to qualifiers used in various patterns. You can see the response to this sort of analysis by looking through the literature. That response also tends to have certain characteristics that predominate.

In much of the dialog about vitriol and hate in political speech and its motivational impact on extreme human misbehavior, the same divide occurs. It is the problem of language analytics and obfuscation of definition. Terms such as civility, vitriol, and expressions of hate are seldom supported with effective examples to clarify definitions by those who use such terms in an accusatory manner. That, again, is a pattern: the use of terms with negative connotations to mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean, and only that. Highlighting such a lack of integrity is what an analysis such as O’Rpurke does.

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