Friday, January 14, 2011

Loughner, language and the Big Lie ~ By ILANA MERCER

Liberals contend that free, right-wing speech drove Loughner over the edge. I would counter thus: The perversion of speech – and the manifest discrepancy between words and what they stand for – is what encourages "madness" and mayhem in individuals like Loughner.

An inability to deal with incongruity does not imply an absence of mens rea (criminal intent). "Crazies" know right from wrong.

We are all equally exposed to the Big Lies pushed by the country's so-called cognoscenti. The political class has manufactured a parallel universe for us to inhabit. We are, however, all free to refuse to occupy it.
Just in case you weren't sure, one of the definitions of semantics is:
the branch of linguistics that deals with the study of meaning, changes in meaning, and the principles that govern the relationship between sentences or words and their meanings

~ Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
Ilana Mercer tries to explain the relationship between Loughner's madness and his obsession with the government and the incongruity of semantics. In other words... I have no idea. But the column is interesting enough that it is worth reading.

Loughner, language and the Big Lie
By Ilana Mercer

January 14, 2011 ~ 1:00 am Eastern

© 2011

"What is government if words have no meaning?" Jared Lee Loughner asked Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in 2007.

Loughner was attending a Giffords "Congress in Your Corner" get-together. The gracious congresswoman attempted to answer the youth's riddle. As we now know, no reply would have satisfied or stilled the mind of this obsessive individual.

Four years later, on Jan. 8, 2011, Loughner went on a rampage outside a Tucson grocery store, where the representative held a similar event. He killed six people and wounded 14, among whom was Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner was both fixated on his representative's imagined failings, and preoccupied with language and its misuse. These elements combined and then combusted in his head.

As a writer who really loves the English language, I am intrigued by the intrusive, persistent thoughts about grammar and illiteracy to have plagued Loughner.

You see, as I mourn the senseless slaughter of my countrymen, I also grieve – with almost every book I pick up or Internet tract I read – the bastardization of the language.

Given time, the nation's mental-health mavens will confuse matters. They will likely assert, without any science, that misfiring neurotransmitters in the man's brain brought us to this point. It would appear, however, that what pushed Loughner into an abyss was the inability to "read" the world around him.

Words are symbols. They are used as agreed-upon conventions to make sense of the world. For Loughner, these constructs no longer corresponded to the things they are supposed to describe.

The magazine Mother Jones interviewed Bryce Tierney, a close friend of Loughner. Tierney confirmed "the fascination Loughner had with semantics and how the world is really nothing – [an] illusion." In addition, Loughner, said his pal, liked to insist (credibly) that government was "f---ing us over."

Perhaps, then, it was not speech per se that inflamed Loughner's febrile passions, but, rather, Orwellian speech; lies that belie reality.

The Big Lies.


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