Looking beneath the labels

Letter to the Editor


Last updated 1/6/2022 at 10:08am

What’s in a word? Think tanks have been very successful in directing our thoughts to the way they want us to act. Lakoff’s book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, suggests that the words we use have consequences. Words often become popular and may be used to our detriment.

For example, “tax burden” brings to mind something very unpleasant, maybe unfair. Yet, we all need to pay for the benefit of government provisions, such as roads, schools, libraries and disaster relief. Every American benefits from roads, for example.

For years, the use of “oil spill” has been irritating me. What comes to mind with “spill”? - a picture of a little tea spilled from a teacup, not a huge uncontrolled leak with millions of gallons spewing from broken pipes.

Consider the phrases “the undocumented” instead of “illegal immigrants”

The latest is “insurrection”. According to the Merriam-Webster researchers. the most searched word in 2021 was “vaccine” followed by “insurrection”. “Insurrection” is the “act of revolting against civil authority or an established government”, and is commonly used to describe events of January 6th, 2021. So, “insurrection” obviously is not well-known and could even include protests.

However, “failed coup” appears to conjecture a greater danger. A “coup”, short for “coup d’etat” is defined as a “sudden decisive exercise of force in politics”, but particularly “a violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group. “

Which is more accurate “failed coup” or “insurrection” when referring to January 6th.?

Nancy Street


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