In “Alice in Wonderland,” Humpty Dumpty insists to Alice that he can use language as he pleases:
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a 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.”
Those who misuse words, and make them mean what they do not mean, often have the motive of being master − not just master of the words, but master of us as well.
The right to privacy.
While this right is not mentioned in the Constitution, the Supreme Court inferred it from the rights that are mentioned. We would all agree that some degree of privacy is essential for an individual to remain free, or even to remain individual. But as the late Judge Robert Bork said in his unsuccessful effort to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, a vague right to privacy is a right to do what? A right to conspire to fix prices in private? A right to beat your wife in private?
What Bork was referring to, of course, is that in practice the right to privacy has shrunk until it includes only one thing − the right to abort an unborn baby up to the ninth month. I am hard-pressed to find any other current use of the term.
Take the pat-downs now common in airports. Take the groping of female breasts, as well as the crotches and buttocks of both sexes − and all ages, from infants to the elderly. Where is control over one’s own body? In all the groping, exactly how many weapons or explosives have been discovered? I cannot recall any reported by the media. Surely the TSA would have trumpeted such success, if any.
So if the right to privacy does not include the right not to be touched inappropriately, what does it include? The right to have personal or business e-mails remain private? The right to say what one pleases on the Internet, so long as it does not advocate violence? The right to keep one’s assets private, so long as one does not conceal taxable income? The right not to have one’s most intimate secrets − including medical and medication records − splattered over the Internet? The right not to have your personal and medical data shared with private marketers? The right not to have the NSA trolling the cyberworld for who-knows-what information about you, accurate or not? Are you joking?
As Mr. Dumpty would say, the right to privacy means the right to abortion, neither more nor less.
Regulate interstate commerce.
The Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and between the states. This was necessary to prevent Massachusetts from placing a tax on goods imported from Delaware, for example. But over the years, this power has been extended to include regulation of virtually everything − because today, virtually everything is affected by interstate or foreign commerce.
My state of California taxes Internet sales at the same rate it taxes local sales, 9%. But wait − isn’t regulating interstate commerce the prerogative of Congress? No, not really. You see, when liberals say “commerce,” they don’t actually mean commerce; they mean everything except commerce. Take health care.
During her confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan was asked whether Congress had the power to order Americans to eat three vegetables and three fruits daily. Kagan evaded the question, because she saw that if she said yes, she might appear as a would-be tyrant, but if she said no, she would have a problem justifying ObamaCare. Nevertheless, Kagan was confirmed. A Supreme Court justice cannot commit herself on whether the federal government has the power to control our diets. If that doesn’t give you severe indigestion, it should.
If you believe this is an exaggeration, check out the indigestible, skimpy school lunches First Lady Michelle Obama prescribes for public-school children. Indigestible, skimpy lunches are a problem. Indigestible, skimpy health care will be a disaster.
Privacy means abortion, but not privacy. Interstate commerce means nationalized health care, but not interstate commerce. Humpty Dumpty would be proud of our liberal politicians and judges. But liberals should remember what happened to Humpty Dumpty. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him together again.
Eggs are fragile. But so is liberty. Corrupting language leads to corrupting people:
● “Net neutrality” means that the government will micromanage what we can post or read on the Internet.
● “Let’s come together” means do things my way.
● “Divisive” means you don’t agree with me.
● “Invest in America” means raise taxes.
● “Tax the rich” means tax the middle class.
● “Robust recovery” means nearly 47 million people are on food stamps.
● “Job creation” means people working two or three part-time jobs.
● “Affordable Care Act” means care that is more expensive but less adequate.
● “Sensible gun legislation” means banning gun ownership entirely.
● “Going green” means controlling every aspect of daily life, from toilets to shower heads to dishwashing detergent to light bulbs.
● “Progressive agenda” means going back to an earlier, less free time when the “elite” made decisions for the “ignorant masses” – for their own good, of course.
● “Yemen is a success story” (emphasis on story) means Yemen is disintegrating in the face of pro-Iran rebels.
● “Al Qaeda is on the run” means Al Qaeda is advancing double-time.
● “ISIS is the junior varsity” means ISIS is made up of world-class killers.
● “We oppose all extremism” means we can’t identify Islamist extremism, much less fight it.
● “A leaner military” means an anorexic military.
● “We support our troops” means we despise what they do.
● “Building a coalition” means alienating our allies.
● “Smart diplomacy” means appeasing our enemies.
● “Should, in fact, the video be authentic…” means that the horrific video of ISIS burning a man alive is obviously genuine, but we’ll pretend there is doubt so we don’t have to do anything about it.
● “…randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris” means that Islamist extremists want to murder every Jew on Earth, but we’ll pretend the killing is random so we don’t have to do anything about it.
[Question for President Obama: Did slave traders randomly enslave a bunch of folks, or did they specifically enslave a particular kind of folks? Yeah, right. What's true for your folks is also true for my folks, and for all folks. I thought you knew that.]
I considered titling this column “Brian Williams government,” but this would be unfair – to Williams. He talked about real events; for example, the RPG attack on the helicopter. His lie was to put himself in the helicopter, in order to make himself seem more important. In contrast, the government’s lies are designed to make people believe what is not so, or to conceal from the people what is so, in order to make the government in fact more powerful.
We have regrettably become accustomed to hearing politicians speak and asking ourselves whether we can believe what they say. Now we have descended to the level of asking ourselves whether we can even understand what they say. But how long will it be before we arrive at Orwell’s “freedom is slavery”? Stay tuned.
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