BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor
The meanings of words are changing faster today than at any time I can remember. This is frustrating. I think we should all be able to agree on the definitions of words.
But many in government, academia, big business, the news media and those who consider themselves to be “woke” want to change the meanings of words to trick people into supporting unpopular ideas. The concept is from Orwell’s “1984.” He called it “Newspeak.”
To keep up with all of the new words and terms, I’ve assembled this list.
• “Safe injection rooms” — A city government opens up a room in a drug-infested area of town for addicts to inject their heroin (or whatever else they put in their arms). A lot of people think it’s a bad idea for government to condone the use of dangerous narcotics. But to get those naysayers to drop their objections, the government throws the word “safe” in front of words “injection rooms” to make this concept more palatable.
• “Safe parking” — You let a bunch of people who sleep in their cars or RVs stay in the same parking lot at night. What could go wrong? To get people to drop their fears, advocates decide to call it “safe parking.”
• “Authentic” — How come this is used by people or businesses that aren’t the least bit authentic?
• “Evidence-based” — This means the speaker is making up claims without any evidence. It’s synonymous with “data-driven.”
• “Transparent” — A favorite word of government employees who aren’t transparent. I’d rather have honest and helpful government employees than transparent ones any day.
• “Birthing people” — President Biden’s 2022 fiscal year budget has replaced the word “mothers” with “birthing people.” When a member of Congress asked about the change at a hearing last week, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Shalanda Young said the term “birthing people” wasn’t a mistake. “There are certain people who do not have gender identities that apply to female and male, so we think our language needs to be more inclusive on how we deal with complex issues,” she said. So next May, remember to get your mom a Birthing People Day card.
• “Faith leaders” — This is a clunky term to replace “ministers” or “pastors.” Another unwieldy term these days is “faith-based organizations.” How about the old fashioned term “churches and synagogues”?
• “Transported” — It’s grating to hear a newscaster say, “The victim was transported to a local hospital.” “Transported” makes me think of “Star Trek.” Instead of “transported,” how about the word “rushed,” as in “The victim was rushed to a local hospital”? And why is the word “local” needed in that sentence? Of course the victim went to a local hospital. If the ambulance took the victim to New Jersey, then that would be news.
• “Rent caps” and “rent stabilization” — They’re euphemisms for rent control. Most voters have figured out that rent control is a disaster because it doesn’t create more housing, and it leads to other problems like run-down neighborhoods. So advocates of rent control have changed the lingo. Months after California voters rejected rent control at the polls, the Legislature got away with passing rent caps. Same thing, different name.
• “Complete Streets” — A couple of mid-Peninsula cities have renamed their bicycle commissions “complete streets” commissions. It’s a biased term that implies that a street can’t be complete unless it has bike lanes. But there are many streets that are too dangerous for bikes. A few years ago, bike advocates in one city came out in favor of a bike-to-school route that went right by the entrance to a construction site with heavy trucks coming in and out all day. I’d rather have “incomplete streets” if it means saving the lives of kids.
• “World languages” — When my son started school, I was surprised to see that they were calling French, German, Spanish and Chinese “world languages” instead of “foreign languages.” I asked the principal and he said it was the term the feds used. Apparently the U.S. Department of Education felt the term “foreign” was off-putting to immigrants from other countries.
• “Shelter in place” — Why can’t the cops say, “Stay indoors”? Along the same lines, when a cop shoots somebody, why do they call it an “officer-involved shooting”? Just say the cops shot somebody.
• “Truth-teller” — Before anybody uses the term “truth-teller,” can they tell me what the truth is? People usually can’t agree on what the truth is. So I have a problem anointing any mortal as a “truth-teller.”
• “Whistleblower” — Same argument as “truth-teller.” Who knows if the so-called whistleblower is telling the truth or is a disgruntled former employee with an ax to grind?
• “The staff” — A term used in local government that allows the speaker to avoid naming a person responsible for something. It’s a great way to prevent the public from holding people in government accountable. Some newspapers go along with the ruse by constantly using the term “the staff” instead of naming individuals. It makes you wonder whose side the newspaper is on — the government or the readers?
• “Harms” — Since when did “harm” become plural? My Merriam-Webster doesn’t show a plural for “harm.”
• “Learnings” — If you learn more than one thing a day, then you’re learning, but you didn’t experience serial learnings.
• “Full stop” — Speakers throw this into a sentence when they want an exclamation point. It’s like a person holding up their fingers to make air-quotes. Apparently the speaker doesn’t think anybody is paying attention, so they say “full stop” to add some drama. Gov. Gavin Newsom does this all the time.
• “Socio-economically disadvantaged” — I think that’s a euphemism for poor, but I’m not sure. I don’t know why “poor” is an offensive term. I wasn’t offended when I was poor. I’ve not only been poor, but I’ve been dead broke. It was God’s way of saying I needed a better-paying job.
• “Food insecurity” — New term for hungry or worried that you might become hungry.
• “Unhoused” — This is a euphemism for “homeless.” A generation ago, “homeless” was touted as a way of replacing terms such as vagrant, tramp, hobo, bag lady and drifter.
• “Lived experience” — How is that different from actual experience? Or do some people have out-of-body experiences while others partake of experiences while still in their bodies?
• “Equity” — Activists have dropped the term “equality” in favor of “equity.” At the same time, their demands have changed from equal opportunity to equal outcomes. I don’t think anybody disagrees with the idea of an equal opportunity when it comes to housing, employment, education or a loan. But while there are laws to ensure equal opportunities, how can government guarantee equal outcomes? It’s like guaranteeing every kid in class will get an A regardless of how much effort they put in.
• “Nonprofit” — It used to define a charity run on a shoe-string budget. Now it’s big salaries, fancy offices and “woke” employees.
• “Wayfinding devices” — signs.
• “Signage” — A sign. It’s a word people use to make themselves sound important. Want to avoid using the word “signage” in a sentence? You can always replace it with “sign” or “signs” and the meaning will be the same.
• “Exclusionary zoning” — All zoning excludes certain uses and includes others. That’s what zoning is all about. Activists use the term “exclusionary zoning” to make it sound like a community is racist, yet zoning in every town is exclusionary.
• “Healthy Communities” — In practice, it means the government forces mom-and-pop markets to stop selling cigarettes and alcohol, but still allows Safeway, 7-Eleven and Costco to sell them.
• “Reach codes” — Extra laws (over and above what’s necessary in the building code) requiring property owners to carry out the environmental objectives of elected officials, such as banning natural gas. This is very clever. The elected officials get to take a bow and virtue signal while they pass the cost and the hassle on to residents who have no say in the decision.
This is just one man’s opinion. I know many of you will disagree. Feel free to email me your opinion. Let me know if it’s for publication or not.
Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.