Cant over Clarity
The true evildoers of our age are those who would willfully corrupt the Mother Tongue. As a person who lives by the right use of words, I am grateful that early on in my academic career I happened upon two wordsmiths who shaped my craft ever after: Richard Weaver and Richard Mitchell (of The Underground Grammarian fame). Weaver's seminal essay, "The Power of the Word," makes one feel as if the "word benders" of our culture are guilty of a capital offense. And so they are!
Language is the vehicle of meaning. Language is powerful in a way that other media are not, especially if it is the Mother Tongue, the language by which you form thoughts, transfer concepts, and dream.
Take for example the abuse of the two words "tolerance" and "acceptance." The fusing of these words and the conscious, calculated erasure of their distinct meanings is a studied degradation done in the service of "consciousness raising." In this case, the bending is in the service of the wearing down of our culture's taboo towards homosexuality. (Note: the technique is not unique to the homosexual community but, it seems, is wielded most often in the hands of Progressives.)
Tolerance = a freedom from prejudice or prejudicial action, an open-mindedness.
Acceptance = approval, a positive belief in.
Considered just by their meanings, the two are not joined at the hip. For example: Nazis are repugnant and beneath my contempt, and I never, ever would consider approving their vile beliefs. However, tolerance, necessitated by freedom of speech, draws me to support their right of free assembly and peaceful demonstration.
Likewise, while my Judeo-Christian beliefs draw me to reject homosexual unions as marriage, I tolerate their less-than-traditional lifestyles regarding anything that does not coerce a basic shift from traditional social norms -- norms that have served Western society well for centuries.
But from the left we get a never-ending assault on the separation of the meaning of these two words. Tolerance is everywhere bonded with acceptance. Any separation of the two generates the vitriol of other branding-bending phrases like "hateful" and "homophobic." This, to such a degree that the majority is being stripped of its basic right to define the foundational institution of its continued existence...the hetero-sexual couple bonded in marriage.
Shift and fuse meaning, and the way is open for all sorts of ethical confusion, like elevating a secondary or derived virtue, like tolerance, to the status of a supreme and ultimate good (see Aquinas' discussion on derived vs. ultimate good in "The Cardinal Virtues").
I have an early typeset copy of Mitchell's The Underground Grammarian which ends with the phrase, "Warning! Rape Of The Language Will Be Punished!" Would that it were so! May the tolerant be intolerant of acts of violence on our Mother Tongue!
Rev. Dr. Hugh MacKenzie is a Presbyterian pastor and retired Army chaplain.