Words mean things. They are the essence of communication, and mastery of them means mastery of debate and (ultimately) power. That’s why I take such an especially dim view of those who pervert the language to suit their ends.
The Tampa Bay Times today published an editorial where they took their legislature to task for a weekend vote where the Senate rejected an effort to implement a two-year ban on the sale of AR-15s. This, of course, in the wake of last month’s tragic mass shooting at a high school in Parkland-Florida.
The paper (and anyone else for that matter) is well within their rights to voice an opinion on the best actions to take in the wake of such an event. Indeed, this is the essence of debate and living in a free society.
But today, it is not enough to voice an opinion. You must also denigrate your opponent. You must make them appear to be less-than-human. You must strip away their ability to be taken seriously.
During the course of their Op-Ed, the paper listed the votes of the Senators. Above those who voted against the ban, they used the header “For Guns.” Above those who voted in favor of the ban, they used the header “For Kids.” (see photo)
The implication is clear. If you voted against this ban, you voted against kids. This is horseshit. This is emotional blackmail. This is simply rude.
Unfortunately, this is the way modern-day debate is done. If you are an NRA member you “have blood on your hands” and belong to a “terrorist organization.”
I would expect some rando on Twitter to resort to this debate style. But this is a major American newspaper with a readership eclipsing a million. This is not some nut-job trolling the fiery outer reaches of Reddit.
This is also why I and many others, who do not like to be classified as “anti-kid,” are unlikely to lend ANY credence to what gun control enthusiasts have to say. Indeed you will find it difficult to “start a discussion on gun control” when you claim that those who disagree with you are the Spawn of Beelzebub.