“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell,
As a professional wordsmith I am acutely aware of the power of language: how one word out of place can change an entire meaning; how language can be used to inflame as well as to inform; how propaganda can be presented as opinion.
The scenes of December 2 are not ones that anyone in their right mind would want to see repeated but since then words such as ‘mob’ and ‘paramilitary’ have been casually bandied about as each ‘side’ (and make no mistake, there are sides) seeks to stake their claims to the high ground.
And as each side seeks an advantage over the other, the language becomes increasingly emotive, exaggerated and, ultimately, misleading which only exacerbates an already fraught situation.
It seems certain that we will see December 2 repeated, probably on February 3 when the House of Assembly reconvenes. Before then, I am sure we will also see some form of protest over the decision not to give the Rev. Nicholas Tweed a work permit.
This article does not seek to explore any rights or wrongs about the two aforementioned events but it does seek to ask that people are mindful of the language they use: on social media, on talk shows, in print, on comments, in opinions, in press releases, statements and editorials.
Every person has a right to express an opinion – as am I here – but please make that opinion based in fact, and please be mindful of the power of the pen.
Orwell said language can corrupt which is true – it can corrupt actions and if actions are said to speak louder than words, it is the words that have been the catalyst.