Sunday, October 09, 2005

Word Inflation

I apologize for the long gap in between posting - what with harassment at work and what not...

I would like to address the inflation of language that George Carlin often has analyzed, in this case the term:

person of interest
Now, this phrase uses six syllables, and replaces the old noun of two --
"Suspect" sound so harsh, so judgmental, and in this age the only unacceptable behavior is that of judging. "Person of interest" sounds so much more fun, as if the human under suspicion is actually an intriguing character, a man of many facets...
Rather than a suspect under suspicion of nefarious crimes!
I noted this annoying upgrade after reading a recent article in the city newspaper - a scion of one of our august village tribes noted for siring generations of horse thieves, car thieves, cattle rustlers, check converters, and body attachment fugitives, is now proclaimed a person of interest in the disappearance of a 79 year old woman after he was arrested for a out-of-state traveling parole violation while driving in the woman's car. Now this man has been living off older woman since his early twenties, a sort of mullet haired gigolo for the wealthy widow with a taste for honky tonks and Indian casino slots.
By the by, has anyone noticed the rise and fall of the euphemism gaming for gambling? Apparently, now that the gaming lobby of Mr. Abramson is under indictment, with pols becoming persons of interest, it is now acceptable to refer to the shell game for the delusional thinkers as gambling again.
Some observations on the wikipedia article:
After the SCOTUS Sullivan decision, the legal culture rendered libel a meaningless word. In Europe, one may say baldly a true thing, and still be libelous...the purpose of throwing out the term person of interest is for legal authorities to destroy reputation without doing the hard work necessary for a criminal indictment. It is legal shorthand for "I am in authority, but I have no idea what I am doing". Apparently, it is a lazy phrase from that noted paragon of laziness, Mr. Ashcroft, from an administration notorious for laziness.
By the by, there is no worse form of malice than laziness.


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