Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Wordshifting: the meaning of "work"

Politics, language, Sarah Palin

When people lament the decline of language—and of the thinking behind it—I am like, all so right there with them. You know?

One of the words undergoing transformation is “work.” Since I’m out of it (work, that is), I have to admit to a conflict of interest in the word and what it means, especially as jobs vanish and work becomes disengaged from formal employment as we've known it.

According to the Urban Dictionary, "work" means two things. One is  “A place where people have to go everyday to get paid. Also known as ‘hell’."

The other is “a supply of contraband to be sold for profit.” This can be low quality “product” or cocaine.

Most of us recognize the first definition, even if we don’t agree with it. And there’s a certain logic to the second one. Our labor (work) is the product most of us have to sell. Personally, mine isn't low quality, but apparently it's not addictive to the buyer, either.

But when it comes to how Republicans use the word, well, I can only quote the great semanticist, philosopher, and actor-former-hunk Sean Connery:

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!"

The Republicans—you know: the party that sells the bumper stickers “We work hard so you don’t have to”--tell us, through lame duck ex-governor and spokesmodel Sarah Palin:

Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time... to BUILD UP. . .

How to do that work? Quit, of course.

According to the Urban Dictionary, "Quitting when the going gets tough; abandoning the responsibility entrusted to you by your neighbors for book advances and to make money on the lecture circuit” is "pullin' a Palin." Nice work if you can get it.

Still struggling to comprehend this bit of Newspeak?

Let’s turn to Nevada Senator Ensign, who is also joining the conservatives' campaign to reconstruct the definition of “family values” (having your dad and mom pay off your mistress’s family, a bargain at only $96,000). He’s not going to quit his senate seat as a result of his indiscretions, but he did resign his leadership position, stating:

“I always planned on serving and working hard, working harder than I ever worked.”

Got that? Less work = working harder.

And if you are still confused, Texas Senator Cornyn will help you understand. Work is what President Obama is NOT doing:

“It’s the perpetual campaign. It’s photo-ops; it doesn’t happen to include doing the hard work it takes to solve big problems that he talks about but I don’t ever see him doing.”

Okay, I think I have it:

As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action. (you liberate a city by destroying it.) Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.

Gore Vidal said that. He was a Democrat, Jackie Kennedy's cousin or something, and gay. Some people would say he was decadent. But you sure knew what he was talking about.

Fortunately, a few conservatives are starting to remember when Republicans were the ones who knew how to shoot--and speak--straight.  Jonathan Kay of the National Post said that Palin's "speech is just a jumble of conflicting, facile metaphors stitched together by people who evidently have a low estimation of the public intellect."

Exercising some indulgence along with intellect, I'll overlook the "stitched together by people" part, since this is at least close to a statement that Palin should take personal responsibility for her words.

I guess we all should.


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