Monday, May 18, 2009

Intellectual Misuserisms

During a conversation on politics with an old friend I offered the hope that all his faith in our new president:

"Ain't been in vain fer nuthin'."

With that he reared up and replied to my comment by saying:

"You always ridicule with clever solipsisms."

Far be it from me to be solipsistic, so I pointed out that he probably meant solecism.

Mistake 1: Never quote Lina Lamont at a New York City cocktail party. They won't know what you're talking about.

Mistake 2: Never attempt to correct the tortured misuse of the English language by New York intellectuals who pride themselves on their rhetorical skills. Especially New York intellectuals who took such great glee in equating our former president's acyrologia-laden speech with a simian level of intelligence.

Far be it from me to defend George W. Bush's tortured misuse of English. I confess that I still hold the bigoted view that fuzzy syntax indicates fuzzy thinking.

Then, just last week, during an interview with Wolf Blitzer Senator Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco took a shot at political opponents who would rather keep suicide bombers locked up in Guantanamo instead of halfway houses in Ashtabula.

"And, so, this shibboleth, which is largely used by Republicans, to say, oh, the Democrats want terrorists in your -- in your neighborhood, in your community, that is a lot of baloney. That is not true. And that's the message that is being pushed, because it frightens people."

Far be it from me to to lecture Sen. Feinstein on the Old Testament.

Rather than shibboleth, meaning password in Hebrew, she could have used canard, or misrepresentation, or prevarication or even baloney--which she did use later in her statement. But no, shibboleth has that certain intellectual panache that fuzzy-headed liberals love so dearly.

Never mind that it's incorrect to the point of idiocy.

This week, our Commissar in Chief was asked about his preferences in movies. In addition to calling the White House "my house" he also told of his admiration for the old Star Trek series.

"It turns out we got this nice theater on the ground floor of my house … So Star Trek, we saw this weekend, which I thought was good.

I used to love Star Trek. You know, Star Trek was ahead of its time. There was a whole–the special effects weren’t real good, but the storylines were always evocative, you know, there was a little commentary and a little pop philosophy for a 10-year-old to absorb."

Far be it from me to remind Mr. Obama that he is living in the people's house.

But should I expect the leader of the free world to understand the difference between evocative and provocative? Apparently not. Actually, for a man who had visited all 57 states during his presidential campaign and is now making personnel decisions for the Fortune 500 what's a little misusery now and then.

There I go again. Another clever solipsism.

So now I have had my bigotry reaffirmed. Yes, I do believe that fuzzy usage is an indicator of fuzzy thinking, regardless of how seemingly well-spoken or articulate.