More PURR Words


Let's continue our discussion on "Purr" words that we began in the last article. There is so much more to talk about and I may well have to write a third article to complete my thoughts. Shall we begin?

Purr words, as we discussed last time, are words with positive, warm and virtuous overtones. They are words which are used to change reality, to try to alter the obvious and to slant news reporting (and much more, of course). Here are just a few more flagrant examples.

"Corporate Efficiency has Improved Since Adaptation of NAFTA." This warm economic news actually means "Corporations Moving Jobs Out of This Country Showing Record Profits". The definition of "efficiency" is a product of who realizes the profit and whose jobs are eliminated. The word "efficiency" has simply become synonymous with "doing the job more profitably" and not "doing the job better".

Other countries moving closer to the American style of capitalism are described as "progressive" and "moving into the 21st Century". Countries trying to represent their citizens and who expect their businesses to treat their employees as human are tagged "socialists" or, God forbid, "liberals". Sweden's moves away from the safety nets that have made them the pride of the civilized world are called "past due" and "responsible".

Corporations whose only purpose is maximum profits create a new phenomenon known as "Health Maintenance Organizations". These corporations do everything in their power to minimize the services available to their "clients" through their "providers" while falling all over themselves to please their stock holders. The clients, a wonderfully neutral word for patients, and providers, a wonderfully distracting word to make you forget that you are seeing a physician and not just an employee of the HMO, are splendid examples of words that make the distinction between going to your doctor and visiting your HMO large enough to make you forget that you used to have rights.

We all remember the right's glory days of Purr words, the Reagan years. The Contras, a group of drug running, civilian murdering, money laundering right wing thugs who fought against the Sandinistas, the group originally installed in office in Nicaragua by our very own CIA, became the "equivalent of our nation's Founding Fathers" and "Nicaragua's only hope". The fact that these gangsters murdered women and children in a wedding party and tortured children to acquire information about their parents was described as "left wing liberal propaganda" at the time and completely ignored when finally brought to light by the victims, the local churches and even the admissions of the participants.

More from the Reagan Hall of Shame would include the "catsup is a vegetable" claim (okay, it was more simple stupidity than purr words but fifteen years later I'm still amazed that he was nuts enough to hope anyone would fall for it).

When Clinton wants to appease the government of China while ignoring their abysmal human rights record in favor of assisting American corporate profit taking, he calls it "commercial diplomacy" or "de-linking diplomacy from human rights". What he means, of course, is that no matter how maliciously they treat their own citizens, there is a lot of money to be made so we can forget what our country used to stand for, freedom and bravery, in favor of what it stands for now, greed and lies.

The June 27 issue of USA Today, that paragon of one-sided reporting, in a story about the debate over cutting taxes for the rich at the expense of the rest of America, used this beautiful sentence, "Despite rhetoric over the fairness of the GOP tax cuts, the realization that tax changes seem inevitable rang throughout the House and Senate tax debate". Rhetoric? Over the fairness? Inevitable? Rang throughout? Gosh, doesn't seem too pro GOP, now does it?

Finally, the mantle of the epitome of double talk and purr words would have to be bestowed on the "Communication Decency Act". The act described was only meant to cover what the far right and Christian right would deem "Decent". Nowhere is there a clear definition of "obscene" or "lewd" or "filthy" until you come to the paragraph making it illegal to mention or discuss or debate any subject relating to abortion. An act legal within all 50 states and confirmed so by the U.S. Supreme Court cannot be written or read about in a world wide electronic medium.

Listen to five minutes of any politician's voice and count the purr words. I just watched Al Gore on Meet the Press and counted 12 purr words in the first three minutes. Then my stomach turned sour and I had to shut them off. So very, very sad.

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Copyright 6/28/97