When changing a culture’s foundational principles, one of the first steps of the cultural revolutionary is to change the meaning of words or to misuse them, as George Orwell so ably illustrated in his prescient book “1984”. Orwell’s Big Brother coined a whole language of “newspeak” with terms such as “unperson”, meaning someone who wasn’t just killed, but was effectively erased from existence.
There are plenty of examples in the real world of language used for political purposes. Under Mussolini’s fascist regime in mid-20th century Italy, he declared that the Italian language would no longer use masculine and feminine articles, that nouns would only be masculine. Immediately, every single person had to declare a political allegiance no matter how apolitical they were. Either they accepted Mussolini’s dictate and stopped using the feminine article for words that had always been so, and thus become a supporter of Mussolini’s regime, or you continued to speak and write Italian as it always had been, and thus became an enemy of the regime.
Wesley Smith writes that the twisting of language to undermine traditional morality and ethics has continued unabated in our day.
In these times, language as an accurate conveyor of ideas is under constant assault. Knowing this, we must strive to keep our language precise and descriptive, particularly when it comes to controversies surrounding human dignity. We should be vigilant against words that dehumanize weak and vulnerable people and suspicious of rhetoric that masks movements’ real goals. We should be wary of words that serve as honey to make the hemlock go down
We encourage you to read the whole article as a reminder of how far we have strayed from the moral standard and the standard use of language, embracing euphemisms for death and dehumanization, and to remember to correct ourselves and others.