We Will Do Our Best to Satirize it Anyway

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George Will looks at recent language trends and finds Woke Word-policing is Now Beyond Satire.

Sometimes in politics, which currently saturates everything, worse is better. When a political craze based on a bad idea achieves a critical mass, one wants it to be undone by ridiculous excess. Consider the movement to scrub from the English language and the rest of life everything that anyone might consider harmful or otherwise retrograde.

Worse really is better in today’s America (if you will pardon that noun; some at Stanford University will not; read on) as the fever of foolishness denoted by the word “woke” now defies satire. At Stanford, a full-service, broad-spectrum educational institution, an “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative” several months ago listed words to avoid lest they make someone feel sad, unsafe, disrespected or something. Problematic words include “American,” which suggests that America (this column enjoys being transgressive) is the most important country in North and South America. The list was quickly drenched by an acid rain of derision, and Stanford distanced itself from itself: The university’s chief information officer said the list was not a mandate. The list warns against using the “culturally appropriative” word “chief” about any “non-indigenous person.”

Mr. Will's column is wide ranging, and current events provided him with a cornucopia of examples. In interest of equal time, however, the Babylon Bee has a counterpoint:

[BB Harmful Language]

See? Maybe not great satire, but…

Briefly noted:

  • J.D. Tuccille: Politicians Use Subsidies To Squeeze Semiconductor Manufacturers. "Semiconductor manufacturers" being only the latest example of a general rule: the power to subsidize is the power to squeeze.

    It's no secret that rising international tensions and snarled supply chains are fracturing the world, threatening to curtail an all-too-brief period of relatively free trade and the prosperity it brought. With political priorities competing with ones of efficiency, governments are increasing their control over production and commerce. That includes the Biden administration, which is subsidizing private companies to move the manufacturing of microchips to the U.S.—and then using its leverage to extract concessions and take a big skim of the profits. That means greater expense for you and me.

    "Rebuilding America's leadership in the semiconductor industry is a down payment on our future as a global leader," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo boasted shortly after the passage of the CHIPS Act last summer. "CHIPS for America, will ensure continued US leadership in the industries that underpin our national security and economic competitiveness."

    That's a fancy way of saying the government will subsidize chipmakers to the tune of tens of billions of dollars to manufacture computer chips in the United States instead of in countries, like Taiwan, that are potentially at risk from China. That's not a baseless concern given that China's government is threatening "confrontation and conflict" with the United States and clearly wants to absorb Taiwan (though U.S. officials are not without fault in building these tensions).

    I would imagine the industry isn't innocent in this effort. As many have pointed out: "Look Around the Poker Table; If You Can’t See the Sucker, You’re It."

  • On that very same topic, Veronique de Rugy bids you Welcome to the Age of Political Capitalism.

    Welcome to our regime of political capitalism, where merit matters but political connections matter even more. In an unalloyed capitalist system, money flows to those who offer goods and services of value to consumers. In a political capitalism system, money flows to special-interest groups with friends in high places.

    In his 2018 book, "Political Capitalism," Florida State University economist Randall Holcombe defines it as a regime marked by cooperation between political and economic elites for their mutual benefit at the expense of the masses. Among the benefits pursued by elites, of course, is maintenance of their positions of power.

    The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement was borne from opposition to political capitalism. Indeed, OWS members rightly sensed that financial bailouts and the Federal Reserve's rescue of the banking system during the Great Recession were products of a system favoring politically connected bankers and their friends in Congress. OWSers denounced the recipients of government favors as the "1%" and contrasted them with the "99%" who were often left to shoulder the high costs of such policies.

    Vero has plenty of historical examples.

  • Tired of the partisans spinning the latest about January 6? I think Jacob Sullum is on the right track with his query: Is Tucker Carlson Wrong To Describe the Capitol Riot As 'Mostly Peaceful Chaos'?.

    "Hundreds and hundreds of people, possibly thousands," entered the Capitol over the course of two hours that day, Carlson said. "The crowd was enormous. A small percentage of them were hooligans. They committed vandalism. You've seen their pictures again and again. But the overwhelming majority weren't. They were peaceful. They were orderly and meek. These were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers."

    That gloss is misleading in a few ways. Carlson mentioned vandalism but not violence against police officers, which indisputably occurred even if it was not typical: The violence was captured on video, and the Justice Department said "approximately 140" Capitol and D.C. officers were assaulted during the riot. Carlson's characterization of the Capitol invaders as "orderly" is hard to reconcile with his description of the scene as "mostly peaceful chaos." The adjective meek likewise seems inapt for people who entered the Capitol without permission as Congress was ratifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, precisely because they objected to that ceremony, which they erroneously saw as confirming an illegitimate result.

    Also see, if you can, Andrew C. McCarthy: Making Sense of the Capitol Riot Tapes

  • The state next door has a dirty mind: Maine vegan forced to give up ‘LUVTOFU’ license plate in crackdown.

    One vegan from Maine has got major beef with the state’s new system for approving vanity license plates.

    Maine vegan Peter Starostecki was forced to forfeit his “LUVTOFU” plate as a result of the state cracking down on tags deemed inappropriate.

    I have to admit that this is a good point:

    Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said that while she backs freedom of expression, motorists should use bumper stickers, not state-issued license plates to express themselves.

    But then she undoes that good point in the very next paragraph:

    “We have a public interest in keeping phrases and words that are profane or may incite violence off the roadways,” she said.

    Eyeroll. Shenna, is a bumper sticker less likely to "incite violence" than a license plate?

    [Incitement to violence] But I have to admit that every time I see a plate with the insipid "Vacationland" slogan and that stupid chickadee, it makes me want to punch out a Maine vegan. So consider yourself warned, Starostecki!

Last Modified 2024-01-30 6:19 AM EDT