Watch Those Bullseyes and Crosshairs

Once again, I am reminded of the 1999 John Leo piece entitled "A waspish, niggardly slur" as we witness the hysteria when people engage in political linguistic correctness.  Thus, the language muzzle rears its ugly head again. 

Hearken, advertisers -- you will not be able "to set your target and keep trying until you reach it," nor will you attempt to "understand the language of each new product, and speak the language of each new target audience."

Will Target stores have to redesign an entirely new logo?  It is only the most widely recognized advertising logo in the world!

Young people beware -- "today's mobile phones, with rich graphics and sound capabilities, are an ideal platform for an interactive version of Bullseye. ... "

Sportscasters may go mute if they cannot utter such items as "St Joseph's may not have been the better team Saturday night, but it is certainly a better team than Old Dominion is.  That, however, isn't always enough.  Therein lies the peril of hunting season because if a team posts a significant win or two, a bullseye is sure to follow. ... "

The financial markets might have to come to a halt because "E Trade's shopping spree doesn't guarantee it will stay out of buyers' crosshairs. ... "  Furthermore, "Shanghai is really right in the crosshairs economically."

Literary pundits may ponder whether a cliché such as "over my dead body" should be buried.

Broadway aficionados may not recognize the play if Annie Get Your Gun is renamed.

And Hollywood starlets may no longer know whether the "movie bombed" or not.

So while the press and Obama's Homeland Security have forbidden us to describe terrorists as such, we are forced to convolute language and engage in thought policing.

As Leo states in another of his writings, "The Language Stretchers," "stretching is, in fact, a big trend in the fast-growing field of language manipulation."  Furthermore, such "stretching exercises are often more than publicity-grabbing hyperbole.  Sometimes they are conscious attempts to ratchet up a minor offense into a major one." 

If we cannot distinguish the motivations of people as they use words, then what is the point of communication?  As Leo explains, Americans "pay a price for these polemical word games."  As we conflate words out of context and blur the intent of the language, it puts "everyone on full-time alert for offense" and distracts people from tackling the genuine problems that need to be addressed.  In the horrific events in Arizona, these questions are:

  • Why did a known mentally ill individual have access to guns?
  • Managers of department stores routinely give prospective employees a battery of questions to weed out potentially problematic individuals.  At the very least, stores that sell guns should do this on the spot.  Shouldn't Loughner's responses have raised a red flag?
  • Why didn't the university have the authority to get the critically needed care that the shooter obviously required? 
  • When can society protect a deranged individual from hurting himself and harming others?
  • Why didn't the sheriff's office have better protection for an elected politician?
  • Why didn't the sheriff's office watch Loughner when prior problematic evidence existed? 
  • Why can't responsibility be laid at the foot of the shooter in place of engaging in collective guilt when none is to be had?

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com.
Once again, I am reminded of the 1999 John Leo piece entitled "A waspish, niggardly slur" as we witness the hysteria when people engage in political linguistic correctness.  Thus, the language muzzle rears its ugly head again. 

Hearken, advertisers -- you will not be able "to set your target and keep trying until you reach it," nor will you attempt to "understand the language of each new product, and speak the language of each new target audience."

Will Target stores have to redesign an entirely new logo?  It is only the most widely recognized advertising logo in the world!

Young people beware -- "today's mobile phones, with rich graphics and sound capabilities, are an ideal platform for an interactive version of Bullseye. ... "

Sportscasters may go mute if they cannot utter such items as "St Joseph's may not have been the better team Saturday night, but it is certainly a better team than Old Dominion is.  That, however, isn't always enough.  Therein lies the peril of hunting season because if a team posts a significant win or two, a bullseye is sure to follow. ... "

The financial markets might have to come to a halt because "E Trade's shopping spree doesn't guarantee it will stay out of buyers' crosshairs. ... "  Furthermore, "Shanghai is really right in the crosshairs economically."

Literary pundits may ponder whether a cliché such as "over my dead body" should be buried.

Broadway aficionados may not recognize the play if Annie Get Your Gun is renamed.

And Hollywood starlets may no longer know whether the "movie bombed" or not.

So while the press and Obama's Homeland Security have forbidden us to describe terrorists as such, we are forced to convolute language and engage in thought policing.

As Leo states in another of his writings, "The Language Stretchers," "stretching is, in fact, a big trend in the fast-growing field of language manipulation."  Furthermore, such "stretching exercises are often more than publicity-grabbing hyperbole.  Sometimes they are conscious attempts to ratchet up a minor offense into a major one." 

If we cannot distinguish the motivations of people as they use words, then what is the point of communication?  As Leo explains, Americans "pay a price for these polemical word games."  As we conflate words out of context and blur the intent of the language, it puts "everyone on full-time alert for offense" and distracts people from tackling the genuine problems that need to be addressed.  In the horrific events in Arizona, these questions are:

  • Why did a known mentally ill individual have access to guns?
  • Managers of department stores routinely give prospective employees a battery of questions to weed out potentially problematic individuals.  At the very least, stores that sell guns should do this on the spot.  Shouldn't Loughner's responses have raised a red flag?
  • Why didn't the university have the authority to get the critically needed care that the shooter obviously required? 
  • When can society protect a deranged individual from hurting himself and harming others?
  • Why didn't the sheriff's office have better protection for an elected politician?
  • Why didn't the sheriff's office watch Loughner when prior problematic evidence existed? 
  • Why can't responsibility be laid at the foot of the shooter in place of engaging in collective guilt when none is to be had?

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com.

RECENT VIDEOS