From Beheading to Scream-Fests: How to Silence Critics – and Yourself

Execution has been and still is a tried and true method of silencing critics.

Consider the case of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the gadfly of the Roman senate.  A remarkably gifted rhetorician, his agile and biting tongue was silenced by an affronted Marc Anthony, who had the eloquent orator beheaded.  As the Roman historian Appian later related:

Cicero's head and hand were fastened for a long time to the rostra in the forum, where he had previously played the popular leader, and more came to see the sight than had listened to him. It is said that Anthony had the head placed before the table at his meals, until he was sated with looking at the vile object.

Leaders of modern democracies and republics, most of which have been and are still committed to some freedom of speech, have generally refrained from beheading outspoken critics outright.

But there are ways of silencing people that, though subtler than execution, are almost as effective as death by beheading.

One way to silence critics is to change the very concept of reality so that old paradigms of truth become irrelevant or even vanish. 

A 1985 video features ex-KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov, who outlines the ways believers in ideologies can distort reality and create a new one.  Bezmenov outlines four steps of subversion.  The first is to change the perception of reality so no one is able to come to sensible conclusions about himself, his family, or his community.  The process is also known as brainwashing.

The object of brainwashing experiences demoralization so profound that exposure to truth doesn't even matter anymore.  As Bezmenov points out, an utterly demoralized Soviet citizen could actually know about or even see concentration camps and still not believe reality, so completely changed was his way of thinking.  Facts did not matter, as the brain had been completely disabled and then reprogrammed.

The brainwashing tactics used by leftist ideologues in America today – they are often ensconced in America's premier academic institutions – involve an undermining of reality by changing language.  Once the way of speaking and writing is completely overhauled, opposing voices, including those from the past, are rendered unable to speak meaningfully at all.  To put it another way, the idea is to make former interpretive paradigms describing reality absolutely incomprehensible by scrambling language.  

For instance, feminist and genderist theologians sought to rid the Trinity of patriarchal references such as Father and Son, substituting gender-neutral terms like Life-Giver, Sustainer, and Holy Parent.  The idea is that the currently desired social order of the religious left should be reflected in a new permutation of language designed to change the old and hidebound terminology for God orthodox Christianity has utilized with some effectiveness and for good reasons for the last 2,000 years.

As Wesley Spears-Newsome notes in his helpful essay "Tips and Tricks for Being Gender Inclusive in Worship," terms denoting the Holy Trinity can be particularly thorny.  However, God's form and nature must follow the new human perception, and therefore a new lexicon referring to God – whoever that may be – must be created.  The old God names had to go:    

Masculine Phrase/Title

Inclusive Replacement Options

He, Him, His, Himself

God, God, God's, Godself

You, You, Yours, Yourself

S/He, Her/Him, Hers/His, Her/Himself (alternating)

King, Lord

Almighty (God)

Creator (God)

Sovereign (God)

Maker, Sustainer (God)


Creator (God)

(Holy) Parent

(Holy) Comforter

Father-Mother (one word)

Mother/Father (alternating)



Son (of God)

Child (of God)






Light (of the World)


Crucified (One)

Risen One

The changes to God-language that have been de rigueur in seminaries and churches as well as academia for decades have been widely replicated and re-formed.  They are now used as tools for brainwashing by the secular left, which now reaches down in the form of the post-structuralist transgender movement into public schools.  Most who know about the radical fringe of trangenderism are familiar with the new lexicon aimed at changing pronouns denoting male or female to gender-neutral terms.  For those who are not in the know, a handy chart is supplied by the LGBT Resource Center.




































The revision of the English language reflects the effects of the linguistics of intellectuals like Jacques Derrida, which, though now considered outmoded, linger on long after the initial shock of Derrida's theories concerning the ultimate inability of language to convey knowledge wrecked the humanities, especially Western literature.

For the fact is that the new jabberwocky utterly trashes coherent thought, starting with the humanities but gradually affecting every academic discipline, including the sciences.

As Camille Paglia has noted:

Post-structuralism is a system of literary and social analysis that flared up and vanished in France in the 1960s but that became anachronistically entrenched in British and American academe from the 1970s on. Based on the outmoded linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and promoted by the idolized Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault, it absurdly asserts that we experience or process reality only through language and that, because language is inherently unstable, nothing can be known. By undermining meaning, history and personal will, post-structuralism has done incalculable damage to education and contemporary thought[.] ... And the end result is that humanities departments everywhere, having abandoned their proper mission of defending and celebrating art, have become humiliatingly marginalized in both reputation and impact.

Well, yes.

Essentially, what Paglia laments is what was bound to happen when deconstruction of language ultimately renders both writing and speaking pointless.  As Richard Ellmann points out, deconstruction is the systematic undoing of understanding.  Jurgen Habermass echoes Ellmann's thinking when, in his The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, he notes that Derrida actually was advocating an end to rational discourse.

Derrida's opposition to "logocentricism" – that is, his insistence that ideas do not exist outside language we use to express them – essentially means that language itself is meaningless and communication among us is impossible since no one is conveying any truth to which others may relate.  Of course, such anarchical linguistics makes one wonder why Derrida chose to put his non-thought to paper.  After all, if language is not capable of conveying concepts, why did he bother writing?

People, including Derrida, still will try to talk.

However, when any given person considers one's self a self-contained god, an entire lexicon reflecting a new reality can be made up on demand.  One can even come to the conclusion that words referring to human being, man or woman, are referring not to reality, but only to other words.  Anyone can play with the language as one wishes and thus change reality.  That same person can then demand that only one's made up language be spoken.

Is it any wonder that many are in despair about the state of political and religious discourse in the West?  Is it any wonder that the humanities are under constant attack as meaningless excrescences and that those committed to logocentrism – the idea that words and literature actually convey ideas – are rendered inarticulate?  Is it any wonder, if transgenderese prevails, that speaking and writing itself will be rendered meaningless?

It is no wonder. 

If we humans cannot communicate universally recognized truths to one another, all that remains is the primal scream and the will to power.  Apparently, the embrace of the Ginsburgian Howl is all that remains for the left, which itself has reached total incoherence and is embracing scream-fests.  The longish title of the new endeavors is "Scream helplessly at the sky on the anniversary of the election."

The scream-fests are illustrative of our current dilemma.  The articulate are silenced, but the critics are also reduced to stupefaction.  Everyone is silenced by the triumph of irrationality.  The left has deliberately torn rationality apart so that only animal instinct remains; the right has generally lost the ability communicate its foundational beliefs with power and conviction because its foundational means of communication are being trashed.  It is coasting like a ship whose motor has died, with currents sweeping it along to dangerous shoals.

The exhaustion of the linguistic paradigms of the left and the consequences of that exhaustion create endless opportunities for disruption and chaos.  The left gladly supplies the physical equivalent of scream-fests.  In sum, the left hopes screaming of many permutations will drown out any remaining rational voices.

Today's enfeebled conservatism, including those holding to orthodox Christianity, must find a strong voice to recover its foundations if it wishes to survive in any meaningful way.

Conservatives, including Christians, need to scream back – but in the King's English.

Fay Voshell holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she received the award for excellence in systematic theology.  She is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Her thoughts have appeared in many other online publications.  She may be reached at

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