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Debunking “DEBUNKED,” exposing CONSPIRACY THEORIES, and dissing other IMPACTFUL Trends!

In Hardcore lexicography forum on January 30, 2021 at 10:06 pm

In which WOOF’s editor in chief, Old Bugler, expresses his up-to-the-minute-if-frustratingly-excursive views on nothing but 100% guaranteed genuine news, mostly in the annoyingly officious third-person, as befits his station!   

Your humble editor has long held that English matters—a theory decreasingly popular even among English teachers, and evidently deplored by readers who deem your editor’s opinion pieces (and almost everything else WOOF has to offer) unacceptably magniloquent. Your humble editor, just to make the case plain at the outset, feels differently.  It was the estimable William F. Buckley Jr. who once reproved such critics by remarking that he loved English and never apologized for using it. As an analogous defense, Buckley recalled attending a performance by the avant-garde jazz pianist, Thelonious Monk, writing, “He struck some really, sure-enough bizarre chords, but you know, it never occurred to me to walk over and say, Thelonious, I am not familiar with that chord you just played. So cut it out please.”

The analogous Thelonius Monk

Rudolf Clausius, obviously steeling himself as he prepares to invent entropy.

That said, this screed is not directed against your editor’s lexicographic critics, nor even those countless purveyors of junk English (aka descriptivists) with whom we occasionally contend. True, descriptivists (here defined as subscribers to the popular theory that English should consist of whatever is meant by whichever Philistines are currently debauching it, provided enough of them are debauching it the same way at the same time) are always on the march. And while it remains our view that descriptivism represents a menace, and one that conservatives do well to oppose in the name of lingual and cultural preservation, it requires a level of paranoia greater than even we possess to suppose its proponents premeditatively subversive. Promoting junk words like “irregardless,” “snuck,” or the ever-popular “impactful,” or, for that matter, struggling to mollify the grammatically clueless by substituting inapposite mush like “their” for the singular pronoun “his,” simply because its antecedent may or may not be male, hardly rates a charge of sedition.  Rather, such botherments amount to that mundane combination of intellectual sloth and rampant nitwittedness that is nowadays widely shrugged off as “entropy,” even around office water-coolers where not one of the assembled discoursers could pick Rudolf Clausius out of a line-up.

Ominous paralogisms….

The Liberal Establishment (FILE PHOTO)

None of this would especially perturb your editor, at least in the moment, were it not for what Leonard Piekoff might call ominous parallels. In the lexical realm, distinctions should be drawn between trends that are merely pestiferous (i.e., descriptivism), and those that conservatives, at least, should deem authentically ominous. Authentic ominousness, in this case, radiates from the establishment’s relentless campaign of verbal sabotage meant to bludgeon our native tongue into unnuanced puerility, while at the same time–and always with that snobbish hauteur endemic to meddling liberals–demanding our acquiescence to the bludgeonings.

The Origin of Speciousness…

The origin of these assaults is not mysterious–they spring mainly from the brows of alembicated Ivy League faculty who, for want of any less vexatious avocations, preoccupy themselves with the coinage of abject drivel, pronouncing its acceptance vital to social awareness, promoting it with a militancy befitting so lofty an objective, and leaving it to their sycophants in media to goad public-spirited Americans into walking around babbling it.  Adding insult to injury, no sooner are we browbeaten into adopting one of these imperiously decreed neologisms, and no sooner habituated to scrupulously applying it as prescribed, than it is superseded by some newer and ostensibly more correct neology, whereupon anyone so laggardly as to employ the previously mandated usage invites denunciation as hopelessly, perhaps even obstructively, unwoke.  This practice is dastardly, and demands opposition. To submit means living life consigned to a kind of sociocultural treadmill upon which participants scramble ceaselessly to maintain both balance and pace while attempting to snag and assimilate an endless flurry of alien terminologies–terminologies rendered even more alien by a shared lack of vocabular lineage.

Transability, and other breakthroughs…..

Actually, Alexandre is what we would describe as male, although he evinces a certain Gender Non-Binary ethos.

Indeed, one might reasonably infer that the rules for minting such gibberish mandate the disallowance of any phrase bearing any sort of etymological pedigree. In this spirit we are bombarded with rubbish like the imaginary pronoun “Ze/Hir,” which we are solemnly instructed to substitute for such embarrassingly gender-specific artifacts as “he” and “she;” as well as TERF, (the currently approved condensation of “trans-exclusionary radical feminism”).  In other cases, distinguishable prefixes and suffixes are mashed into such bizarre combinations as “transabled,” which appears to be the adjectival form of “transability.” For guidance, we turn to Quebec-born academic, Alexandre Baril, an expert on Intersectionality (don’t ask) who recently lectured the University of Ottawa’s Congress of Social Sciences and Humanities on the subject of “transabilism”–so his views must be reliable. Transability, according to Dr. Baril, is “…the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment,” or, in other words, the masochistic impulse formerly known as self-mutilation, the practice of which seems to be trending amelioratively nowadays, at least in Ottawa.

Transability offers a socially enlightened view of rendering oneself disabled, thus self-injurious behavior is no longer judged or stigmatized by open-minded progressives–although, presumably, transabled people may occasionally go too far.

Buffy Saint-Marie–one good looking Native Canadian, unless she’s  Canadian American, or perhaps a Canadian Native American?

O, Buffy, what art thou?

In some cases, creating suitably confounding phrases with which to replace longstanding and readily comprehended ones makes the use of recognizable English  unavoidable. When this problem crops up, the rule seems to be that any resultant phrase must subvert whatever meanings were formerly ascribed to its components. For example, “native American” for generations denoted anyone born and raised in the United States, but is nowadays repurposed to supplant “American Indian.” An earnest attempt to extrapolate logically from this phrasing leaves your editor perplexed as to whether the pulchritudinous Piapot folk-songstress, Buffy Saint-Marie (who hails from Saskatchewan), should be considered a “Native Canadian,” which would clearly necessitate reclassifying all native-born Canadians who do not claim Indian ancestry as something else entirely, perhaps yet to be determined. Your editor warmly solicits Miss Saint-Marie’s views on the matter, should she care to express them. Views expressed by Justin Trudeau, Suzanne Cowan, or other non-Native Canadian native Canadians will be disregarded as inauthentic.

Third wave babel…

We don’t know what magic words Houdini spoke when he made elephants vanish, but they didn’t catch on.

Recently, however, a third method of lexical nullification has emerged. Your editor admits overlooking its advent, a dereliction he attributes to the tactic’s sneaky dissimilarity to previous anti-communicative salients. This third-wave assault on meaningful discourse  bypasses the invention of new words, as well as the dismemberment of old ones. Instead, its purveyors are satisfied to slyly tweak certain common words or phrases discoverable in most dictionaries. This is accomplished first by blurring and then craftily distorting the term’s established denotation, most often redefining it as an apodicticity. An apodicticity is a semantic absolute denoting an unarguable, incontestable truth.  Put in more accessible terms, the third-wave’s technique is like injecting previously unimpassioned locutions with anabolic steroids. Suddenly imbued with dispositive powers, these words become the “last word” on any matter under dispute. When spoken or written by ordained functionaries of the liberal establishment, they acquire a nearly talismanic power. They become secular incantations–magical mantras by which all competing views are rendered as invisible to the public as, say, Houdini’s elephant. 

A peculiar form of genius…

Cable-network ninnyhammer (FILE PHOTO)

Once refitted and empowered as a talisman, the mutated phrase is sure to gain popularity among left-wing news babblers (excuse the redundancy), the vast majority of whom are certain to find its magical powers irresistible. What cable-network ninnyhammer could resist the allure of a word or phrase so powerful, he need only blurt it robotically whenever evidence or arguments adversarial to the liberal cause emerge, and in so doing appear to have confounded, confuted, and decisively repulsed his deluded adversaries?

The Devil (FILE PHOTO)

Mainstreamed in its new, apodictic form, the term is soon comprehended by viewers (and readers) to deliver an editorial deathblow, instantly destructive of all countervailing arguments. The phrase issues so often in its corrupted context from the mouths of trusted celebrities like Oprah, Shep, Christiana, Mika and Joe, and whichever cluster of termagants currently haunts The View–that its jiggered acceptation is soon established as authentic.  Say what you will of progressivism’s dunderheadedness, it requires a peculiar form of genius to engineer such a stratagem, or perhaps merely the luck of the Devil, who is, after all, the original progressive.  

Debunked! 

An example is overdue. Your editor proposes “debunked” as the word most representative of the third-wave’s modus operandi, at least for the time being. This past simple tense and past participle of the verb “debunk,” was originated by William Woodward in his 1923 novel, Bunk. Woodward defined it as a verb meaning “taking the bunk out of things.” It found a broader audience when the mischievous Harold U. Faulkner published “Colonial History Debunked” in Harper’s Magazine of December, 1925–following which, Faulkner’s revelations were themselves largely debunked.

H.L. Mencken–journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, lexicographer, rascal.

H. L. Mencken was not amused. In his useful tome, The American Language, he approvingly cited a letter to the editors of the London Daily Telegraph, dated March 2, 1935, in which the writer opined: “The origin of ‘debunk’ is doubtless the same as that of American jargon in general — the inability of an ill-educated and unintelligent democracy to assimilate long words. Its intrusion in our own tongue is due partly to the odious novelty of the word itself, and partly to the prevailing fear that to write exact English nowadays is to be put down as a pedant and a prig.” Even today, this lends understanding to the word’s popularity among liberals, not to mention numerous complaints directed at our website.

Look! On ABC! It’s an ice box–no! It’s a record! No, it’s a journalist!

Naturally, descriptivists have fixated on debunked with fetishistic intensity, but the most ardent abusers of this frumpy locution are those unblushing agents of deception whom we persist in calling “journalists,” excusably misnomered by that same power of habituation that impels pop stars to call their latest releases “records,” or a large number of Americans to call refrigerators “ice boxes,” or aluminum foil “tin foil.” But by any name, the DNC operatives currently monopolizing our news media cannot say “debunked!” often enough, and quite naturally their liberal viewers (and a distressing number of non-liberals) have taken to blurting the word as though its very enunciation mandates the immediate abandonment of whatever argument, hypothesis, study, or point of view, occasioned its utterance.

The magical whammy…

And therein lies your editor’s concern. After all, quarreling with debunked because it was excogitated by a novelist during the roaring ’20s, or because more concise synonyms are available if sought, would seem an arbitrary, even mean-spirited endeavor. Until recently, debunked ambled along as a relatively inoffensive usage, but as distorted by today’s mainstream media it functions as a kind of magical whammy.  In this capacity, it is a prime example of a term uprooted from its original acceptation, disrated into a makeshift verbal truncheon, and now widely understood to constitute a verbal coup de grâce, certain to quash any contention inconvenient to the mainstream template.  Its newfound utility is that–like all bumper-sticker indictments– “debunked” now drubs the ear (or eye) with a sort of goonish thud–like a kick to the crotch, dissuasive mainly because the shock deprives the recipient of his wits.

POW! You’re debunked!

Maybe they should try not being sinistral?

Pick any current political dispute and scrutinize whichever sources are given primacy by Google’s calculatedly sinistral algorithms and you will find yourself awash in debunkings. One might assume that exposing the falsehoods in a multitude of topical disputes would benefit everyone, but closer examination reveals a startling unilateralism at odds with the law of averages. An alert Googler, regardless of his politics, will soon perceive that nearly every source debunking anything even marginally political, debunks arguments, data, or news stories that conflict with the progressive narrative.

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