Archive for the ‘bad words’ Category
But something else struck me as I looked at Republican arguments against the board, which hinge on the notion that what we really need to do, as the House budget proposal put it, is to “make government health care programs more responsive to consumer choice.”
Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough.
Sounds like the work of Luntz to me… (Actually, here’s a summary of his 2009 memo on health care). See how this works? You preemptively and subtly rework the terms of the debate simply by changing the words that are used.
Both the facilitating situation and ultimate effect of this sort of rhetorical gamesmanship can be found in another article from the NYT today on a new national poll:
[S]lightly more Americans approve than disapprove of a proposal by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin to change Medicare from a program that pays doctors and hospitals directly for treating older people to one in which the government helps such patients pay for private plans, though that support derived more from Republicans and independents. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll that found 65 percent opposed Mr. Ryan’s plan, suggesting results can vary based on how the question is asked.
Twice as many respondents said they would prefer cuts in spending on federal programs that benefit people like them as said they would favor a rise in taxes to pay for such programs.
Yet more than 6 in 10 of those surveyed said they believed Medicare was worth the costs. And when asked specifically about Medicare, respondents said they would rather see higher taxes than see a reduction in its available medical services if they had to choose between the two.
Arggh! Replace Medicare with vouchers, because it costs to much, but Medicare is also worth the costs. Cut spending on programs like Medicare rather than raising taxes, but also raise them to keep Medicare…. Obviously there’s, as always in America, sharp ideological polarization at play, but at least some – or actually probably a large percentage of respondents, when you think about it – who are answering questions in diametrically contradictory ways….
Scrolling through the things I call myself on a nightly basis, it occurred to me: wow are the really bad words ever different over here. I’ve picked up a few that I use at home. (Not in front of the children, for chrissake, at least not on purpose!) At first they drew me steely looks from my wife, and then verbal correction. But somehow I’ve now used them enough that I can get away with it, especially if they seem especially unpremeditated. We are I guess becoming a little bit, you know, British.
The two words that come round most often – and they are bad, misog. words so avert your eyes if you feel the stirrings of offense – are cunt and twat. Remember – I didn’t make these things up, nor did I invent anti-female-genitalic shittalking! So please don’t get mad at me!
The two mean almost the same thing, but not quite. I am not sure I am going to be able to describe it all that well. They’re not that far off from a certain usage of the word asshole at home. Cunt is more angry; twat is more dismissive. (I was about to do a demonstration employing everyone’s favorite popular “philosopher,” but IT is right – it’s time to buy him cake, not call him the platonic ideal of twatitude….)
But here’s the interesting thing. Americans have their own very bad words and they too are derived from the business-end of the female of the species. But if an American in America were to call someone either by the C word or the T word, it would probably sound either affectedly-anglophilic or Chelsea-gay or maybe just maybe greasy New Jersey.
I am not sure they know what either of these words mean out in Wisconsin.
But we have our own nasty word, another one that I’m not supposed to use at home, and it is pussy. And that word, when used properly, that is as a descriptor of a person, means only one thing: coward. Oh, or homosexual I suppose. This is suddenly quite interesting to me. I can’t think of a British vulgarity that is generally applied to cowardice, and the Brits don’t as a rule use the P-word since they have all these others that work just as well…. and, perhaps, cowardice isn’t the issue that it is at home. *
So we hate timidity and effeminacy. And they hate… what? I have the words, but I’m still not in a position to define…. Help me out.
* Asshole, in American parliance (and it’s really ours, as they’re never quite sure whether or not to convert it to arsehole, which we’ll all agree just don’t carry the same punch….) is an interesting one as well, as it generally carries at least a tiny bit of respect along with the disapprobation. They guy who cuts you off in traffic is an asshole. Wall Street types are as a rule assholes. Somebody who knocks you down a bit, especially if unjustly, is a bit of an asshole. Hmmmm…. Do most Americans aspire to be assholes? Does America as a whole?