Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Sunday, February 9, 2014


      Have you noticed how language, like climate, is always in a state of flux?  Sometimes this happens gradually with no malevolent intent.  Maybe it’s just an evolutionary change in meaning over time or when a slang term suddenly hits a receptive audience and becomes part of the vernacular.

            It’s a cold and snowy morning and I began to think of words that have been altered to be politically correct and some that are used to change the thinking of a population. These are off the top of my head and I know that you’ll be able to add many more to this list.

            Changes in language can result in changes in thinking and can be used to manipulate people.

            Take “global warming.”  That didn’t seem to work out so well after warming scientists got stuck in an ice cube, so it was changed to “climate change.”  Can’t go wrong with that.  Climate has been changing since time began.

            Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on the planet. So now we are introduced to “carbon emissions.”  Or just plain, “carbon.” That sounds more ominous.

            “Obama Care” was proudly unveiled and promoted with Obama’s smiling face until it was shown to be a disaster.  So the program became “Affordable Health Care,” in the hope that the uninformed public will disassociate Obama and feel safe and secure in the government’s warm and loving arms. The “believers” feel healthier already and are planning on how to spend all the money the government will save them. 

            Does anyone remember the term, “Gravitas?”  That word popped up like a pimple on a teenager, but it disappeared just as fast.  It had a run from 2000 to 2008.  Every talking head on TV and radio repeated “gravitas” endlessly.  Dick Cheney has “gravitas.”  The word was meant to add stature to the Bush campaign.  Dick Cheney’s vast experience was “gravitas” and added weight to the ticket.

            The term “gravitas” miraculously appeared in 2000 then mysteriously disappeared when Obama and Hillary came on the scene. Not much gravitas with those two.  Has anyone heard that word since Bush/Cheney?

            Many words are changed to be more politically palatable, for example:  Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, that paragon of intellectual prowess, wants to change the term “Welfare” to “Transitional Living Fund.”  There must be a whole lot of transitionin’ goin’ on somewhere.  But where?

            “Homosexuality,” has migrated from queer, fag, fruit, etc., to “gay.”  “Socialist” changed to liberal then to “progressive.”  “Mental retardation” is an “intellectual disability,” which is actually better.  “Manic Depressive” sounds scary, but “Bipolar Disorder” is benign and vague.  “Handicapped” is now “Challenged.”  “Baldness” will soon change to “Follicle Deficit Disorder” to be covered under Obama Care.  You’ll think of many others. 

            The evolution of definitions is interesting.  Going way back in our history, the term “darkies” turned into coloreds, black folk, negro, until it landed on “African-America.”  Coming soon - “hyper-pigmented.”  Get rid of the hyphen.  How about simply “American?” 

            Doesn’t “African-American” define a race down by implying something less than full “American?”  Does it unify or divide? Just a thought.  By the way, is anyone completely white in skin pigment?  Put your hand on a piece of white paper and compare.

            Personally, I don’t like hyphenated designations.  If you are an American citizen, you are American.  You are not Italian-American, Mexican-American, Lithuanian-American, Baptist-American, hypoallergenic-American, or constipated-American.

            I’m aware that America is no longer a “melting pot.”  Our country has become Balkanized, i.e. segregated into groups with varied languages, allegiances, and identities other than “American.”  No country can survive fragmentation, so why do we encourage it with “multiculturalism” and the accommodation of languages other than English?

            Some words have changed 180 degrees from their original meaning.  The word “awful” has a negative meaning although it originally meant, “full of awe.”  You’ve heard younger people say, “That’s bad!” or, as in the hood, “That be bad, Bro,” when they mean, “That’s good,” or “that’s cool.”  Are you “down” with that?
            Another term that drives me nuts is the word “wuss” or “wussy.”  Its origin is obvious, but it seems cowardly.  Someone changed a letter to make it politically correct, but come on.  If you don’t want to use the word you actually mean, use the word “wimp” or “coward.”  Using “wuss” is wimpy in itself.

            Politicians use focus groups to see which words work in altering the thinking of people for control. You can change people by changing words. The right slogan can even get you elected.  How about “Hope and Change”? 

            Time for another cup of coffee.  Maybe I’ll pretend to be “middle of the road” politically and add some half and half.  Or does that make me a “wuss”?  Life is confusing


  1. Another new saying that I don't understand is, "That's sick" meaning "That's good". How in the hell does sick translate to good? Oh well, we just have to roll with the flow I guess.
    Jim Loar

    1. Good is bad. Up is down. Wrong is right. Is the world upside down, Jim?

  2. What about the word 'Empowered' being used in many corporations to make employees feel like they have official authority or power within the company.

    1. The latest news is that employees are "empowered" to stop working, since Obama Care will provide health insurance and, after all, jobs are a form of imprisonment. This is the latest spin.