Friday, February 25, 2011

It's been awhile . . .

The only thing lately I've been inspired to write about blog-wise is tearing this state apart right now. Emotions are hot, tensions are high and very few seem able to separate reason from emotion regarding our governor and what is going on in Madison, Wisconsin (including me, at times probably, if I'm honest with myself).

Credit: Tom Lynn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I have a choice: don't blog, which is the choice I have been making, or write about the budget bill already. (I suppose a third option would be write about something else entirely, but I don't want to.)

Credit: Mike De Sisti of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I am not going to belabor what has already been said. And said. And said again. I have two thoughts I wish to convey, and then I'll be silent on the issue (well, until I'm not again, anyway).

1. Beyond what has been said about this bill, and beyond so many of the rumors and misrepresentation of certain things, what has bothered me the most is this idea that words no longer mean things. Let me preface the rest of this thought by saying I am not trying to paint with a broad brush; I do not pretend to know whether these sentiments are widely embraced by those protesting in Madison, and for the sake of what I am about to say, it really doesn't matter.

Credit: Gary Porter of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dictator. Hitler. Mubarak. Democracy. These words, these people, they have meanings. They have actual definitions. I consider the idea that someone would categorize a popularly elected governor a dictator an assault on the English language. The actual definitions of dictator, according to the Oxford English Dictionary are as follows:

1. A chief magistrate with absolute power who was appointed in an emergency.
Governor Scott Walker has neither absolute power nor was he appointed in an emergency. For crying out loud, he was popularly elected in a high turnout election with fifty-two percent of the vote.

2. An absolute ruler, usually temporary or irregular, of a state; especially one who suppresses or succeeds a democratic government. 
Governed by the laws of this state and being, in fact, only one part of a multi-faceted legislative body, it is clearly inaccurate to label Walker as an absolute ruler and, as for the rest of the definition, I should think it unnecessary to point out that Walker is neither temporary or irregular, nor has he suppressed nor has he succeeded a democratic government.

3. A person exercising absolute authority of any kind or in any sphere; a domineering person.
The OED provides an illustration to show what this definition is getting at: The dictators of behavior, dress and politeness. Even in this sense, and we all know this wasn't what the sign holders were getting at; they meant it in a political sense, it's a reach.

4. A person who gives dictation to a writer or recording machine.

I only included this because I am nothing if not thorough.

I don't know why I let this stuff bother me. Really, I don't. But, really, I would feel better seeing signs saying, "Walker is a Jerk!" or "Walker is a (insert pejorative of choice) because while I might disagree, at least it's clear what you're saying, and it also shows me, and others, that you have a good grasp of the language we're using to communicate, which is a good thing. I have to confess, I have spent an inordinate amount of time stewing about some of these signs, and not because I disagree with them, but because of the abuses these poor, misused words are taking.

Credit: Tom Lynn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

2. Like I said, I'm not going to get into particulars, but I would feel remiss if I didn't state, clearly and unequivocally, that I support our governor. He has stood fast in the face of enormous pressure, and I feel it is the least I can do to publicly support him here on my little corner of the internet.

There. I feel better.


Sara said...

I must admit, I've been hoping for your "take" on all of this. From what I know of "Super Dad" from law school, he was a very thoughtful conservative (meaning, unlike some people on both sides of the aisle talking only of sound bytes and not actually thinking through their arguments, he had good rationale behind what he believed), and I assumed you would have a good reason for supporting (or not) Governor Walker. SInce I am so staunchly on the other side of the issue, it is hard for me to understand the conservative point of view. But, I do prefer to understand it from someone who has thought about it, so I appreciate you weighing in only if to show your support to him! I agree that the rhetoric has gotten out of hand. It's certainly an interesting time in Wisconsin!

Cate said...

LOL. Now I sort of feel bad not talking about why I support the bill and instead talking about something as frivolous as the definition of a word, especially given how much I do actually enjoy political discourse with thoughtful, informed people!

Kim said...

Today on our NJ news were reporters interviewing protestors here. They were calling our Governor Christie "Moammar Gadhafi."

That's when I turned the channel. No reasoning with people like that. They don't want to truth or hard facts.