How a liberal defines words (and ignores the dictionary)

It sort of makes you wonder what kind of medication politicians are using these days.  Words don’t always mean what a dictionary says they mean, and this “alternative definition” appears to be used more and more by political figures on the left.

Gary Johnson, the current presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, gave a letter-perfect example of “alternative definition” during a recent interview.  The interviewer, after obviously searching for the least offensive way of approaching the subject of those who have entered the United States illegally, is taken to task at some length by former Gov. Johnson.

Johnson demanded that the interviewer use the word “undocumented” in place of the word “illegal.”  In fact, he went on and on and on about how Hispanics, particularly in his home state of New Mexico, and he, personally, find the use of the term “illegal” highly offensive.

You have to wonder why Johnson is so “offended.”  And why does the term, according to Johnson, offend only Hispanics?  Don’t we have any illegals in this country from somewhere where they speak other than Spanish?

It’s a simple word.  Even the kids in our world-class educational system (okay, stop sniggering) know what the word illegal means.  The Random House Dictionary defines the word illegal as:

                   1. forbidden by law or statute.

                   2. contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.

Regardless of the definition, Gov. Johnson insists that such people who act in a manner contrary to law or statute should be referred to as “undocumented.”  I could be wrong, but if a person or persons need documentation to be considered legal, wouldn’t the lack of such documentation fall under the definition of illegal?

If you’re driving your car and you’re stopped by the police and the officer requests your driver’s license and you don’t have one, isn’t that alone an act that is illegal?  You get arrested not for “undocumented driving.”  The law, in every state of the union, has found possession of an approved license to operate an automobile the only legal way you can operate an automobile.

Should you then be described as an “undocumented driver”?

I’ve heard some humorous people describe drug dealers as “undocumented pharmacists.”  Does that sound like an accurate description of their activity?

It appears that Gov. Johnson is a bit more obvious than many who agree with him in goals, if not totally in methodology, but all are, sadly, devoted students of Lewis Carroll, the author of Through the Looking Glass.  Carroll uses his character Humpty Dumpty to explain it all this way to Alice:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master -- that’s all.’

The last line in this work by Carroll is key.  The goal of this technique is simply to show that the person defining the word is the master – that is, the master of the conversation, the argument, the issue.  Everyone else is assumed to defer to the definitions of the master.

This is not limited to politicians like Clinton, Johnson, Obama, Pelosi, and the myriad of others, who are (in this year’s political campaign) pandering to some particular minority group.  This verbal effort to become the master of the issue is also the practice of left-leaning lawyers and left-leaning judges.

The most vivid example of “it means just what I choose it to mean” and the complete disregard for the actual definitions intended by the legislators who drafted the words comes from our current chief justice of the Supreme Court, who found in favor of the administration’s interpretation of Obamacare when he declared that “exchanges created by the States” didn’t mean what it actually said. 

Turns out that in that case, Roberts actually was the master, and the rest of us are effectively punished unjustly because he (and he alone) meant what he chose the phrase to mean. 

It’s sad to think that Humpty Dumpty is directing the political future of our nation.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller and a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy, and American cultural idiocy.  Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com and can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.

It sort of makes you wonder what kind of medication politicians are using these days.  Words don’t always mean what a dictionary says they mean, and this “alternative definition” appears to be used more and more by political figures on the left.

Gary Johnson, the current presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, gave a letter-perfect example of “alternative definition” during a recent interview.  The interviewer, after obviously searching for the least offensive way of approaching the subject of those who have entered the United States illegally, is taken to task at some length by former Gov. Johnson.

Johnson demanded that the interviewer use the word “undocumented” in place of the word “illegal.”  In fact, he went on and on and on about how Hispanics, particularly in his home state of New Mexico, and he, personally, find the use of the term “illegal” highly offensive.

You have to wonder why Johnson is so “offended.”  And why does the term, according to Johnson, offend only Hispanics?  Don’t we have any illegals in this country from somewhere where they speak other than Spanish?

It’s a simple word.  Even the kids in our world-class educational system (okay, stop sniggering) know what the word illegal means.  The Random House Dictionary defines the word illegal as:

                   1. forbidden by law or statute.

                   2. contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.

Regardless of the definition, Gov. Johnson insists that such people who act in a manner contrary to law or statute should be referred to as “undocumented.”  I could be wrong, but if a person or persons need documentation to be considered legal, wouldn’t the lack of such documentation fall under the definition of illegal?

If you’re driving your car and you’re stopped by the police and the officer requests your driver’s license and you don’t have one, isn’t that alone an act that is illegal?  You get arrested not for “undocumented driving.”  The law, in every state of the union, has found possession of an approved license to operate an automobile the only legal way you can operate an automobile.

Should you then be described as an “undocumented driver”?

I’ve heard some humorous people describe drug dealers as “undocumented pharmacists.”  Does that sound like an accurate description of their activity?

It appears that Gov. Johnson is a bit more obvious than many who agree with him in goals, if not totally in methodology, but all are, sadly, devoted students of Lewis Carroll, the author of Through the Looking Glass.  Carroll uses his character Humpty Dumpty to explain it all this way to Alice:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master -- that’s all.’

The last line in this work by Carroll is key.  The goal of this technique is simply to show that the person defining the word is the master – that is, the master of the conversation, the argument, the issue.  Everyone else is assumed to defer to the definitions of the master.

This is not limited to politicians like Clinton, Johnson, Obama, Pelosi, and the myriad of others, who are (in this year’s political campaign) pandering to some particular minority group.  This verbal effort to become the master of the issue is also the practice of left-leaning lawyers and left-leaning judges.

The most vivid example of “it means just what I choose it to mean” and the complete disregard for the actual definitions intended by the legislators who drafted the words comes from our current chief justice of the Supreme Court, who found in favor of the administration’s interpretation of Obamacare when he declared that “exchanges created by the States” didn’t mean what it actually said. 

Turns out that in that case, Roberts actually was the master, and the rest of us are effectively punished unjustly because he (and he alone) meant what he chose the phrase to mean. 

It’s sad to think that Humpty Dumpty is directing the political future of our nation.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller and a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy, and American cultural idiocy.  Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com and can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.