Monday, December 12, 2005

A practical demonstration of the Milne theory

You've got to wonder whether John Howard had read Glenn Milne's column (see below) when he walked out to the microphone today and announced with a straight face that the Cronulla riots were not about racism. His eyelid didn't twitch or anything.

That's us told then.

Maybe he thinks the way to change the meaning of a word is to get it pushed through the Senate. Piece of cake. '"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 different things."

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


comicstriphero said...

Its all newspeak isn't it?!

Reminiscent of the use of 'mis-spoke' instead of 'lie'.

When a large crowd chases down and attacks anyone who has certain physical characteristics (dark skin, dark hair, etc), it takes a pretty brave dictator to come out and say there was no racism involved.

The worrying thing is, he knows exactly what he is doing and he knows that he will not suffer for it.

Pavlov's Cat said...

You know, I think it's even worse than that. He isn't even bothering to make up new words. It's a different category from 'rendition' or even from 'mis-spoke', which I agree was hilarious and suicide-inducing in about equal parts.

But what Howard's doing is blatantly using words to mean things they don't mean. And he's doing it very, very skilfully (I agree, that's the most worrying thing) -- did you notice how incredibly carefully worded that statement actually was? If directly challenged, he could point to his evasive syntax and claim he didn't say what we're saying he said at all. And we would have no comeback.