Euphemisms and Other Lies

It is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy.

                     ─ Susan Collins, in her address to the United States Senate

Something appalling is happening in America. A man has been driven to prove his innocence thereby shattering the legal and moral axiom that an individual is presumed innocent until (and unless) proven guilty. The Senate Judiciary Committee compounded the unfairness of that profound legal anomaly by reversing the axiom’s corollary, i.e., there was to be a ‘hearing’ for Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser at which the judge’s accuser was to be heard by the committee after (!) the judge’s own defense, thereby denying the judge the time-honored and humanitarian tradition of granting an accused individual the last word at a trial.

Just days before Judge Kavanaugh was to be confirmed as justice at the Supreme Court, a leak from a senator’s office suddenly introduced uncorroborated allegations to the committee that the judge had engaged in ‘gang rape’ when he was 17 years old. The virtually completed confirmation process suddenly shifted to a last minute ‘hearing.’ Several democratic members in the Senate Judiciary Committee and political commentators who opposed the judge’s Supreme Court confirmation repeatedly declared that the judge’s ‘hearing’ would not be a trial. Although that is technically true, it was a trial.

The trial consisted of two parts. Part one engaged the judge and his accuser in a brief Q&A interrogation session. At that session the judge exhibited the cool deliberation required of a judge. But his ‘reviews’ were negative. The consensus of social media may best be characterized by, “He should have demonstrated outrage at being falsely accused!” (Implication: He hadn’t proven himself innocent.)

In Part Two of the trial, the judge literally ‘acquitted’ himself with an extensive and impassioned not-guilty plea. His outrage was genuine and not necessarily prompted by the criticism he received for his measured and cool deliberation in the first part of his defense. Did that satisfy the social media jury and senators who opposed his confirmation? No. This time, his fervent outrage was described by his opponents as over-the-top and indicative of a man who is unfit to serve as a justice at the Supreme Court. Judgment based on feeling has always been a thorn in the heart of justice, but it has reached a new dimension. The judge found himself in a crucible mainly fueled by feeling rather than reason.   

When the trials were over, the unofficial consensus of both social media and most Americans was that the judge and his accuser were equally sincere in their testimony. The voting logistics of the full senate were such that deciding votes would hinge on three senators.

There followed a week of intense political activity in the streets, at the pivotal senators’ hallways, and at the closed Senate doors which were banged upon by over-the-top protesters.  One of them vigorously attempted to open the huge twin Senate doors with her fingers. In that moment of black humor, a vision of the storming of the Bastille ─ pitchforks in hand ─ crossed my mind.

Euphemisms are words or phrases used to avoid or diminish the impact of words that are too direct or harsh or embarrassing. Somewhat akin to lies ─ big or small ─ euphemisms are handy in the art of deceit. For example most socialist professors, particularly in prestigious universities, disguise their political convictions as social studies, e.g., they’ll assign students material to read or they’ll conduct ‘debates,’ the purpose of which is to subtly promote their socialist beliefs.

At Berkeley, rioters protested in Nazi style even though their brand is antifascism (Antifa); those at St. Lawrence University protested in socialist style. The Nazi types at Berkeley featured shattered glass, a throwback to Nazi Kristallnacht; the socialist types at St. Lawrence University featured anarchism.

An ominous note

I’ve read the full transcript of Senator Susan Collins’ speech in which she explained her ’yes’ vote for the confirmation of the now confirmed, Justice Kavanaugh. Her conciliatory speech  defines rationality, fairness, and compassion. Yet, 100 professors and 1300 St. Lawrence University alumni demanded that an honorary degree awarded the senator (in 2016) be rescinded because of her vote in favor of confirming Judge Cavanaugh. A purported academic institution severely chastised Senator Susan Collins for “deviating from the path” and abandoning the “core values” of the university. For me, that smacks of totalitarianism, Nazi or Socialist.

Unbelievably, in America ‘the presumption of innocence until ─ and unless ─ proven guilty’ was totally absent from judge Cavanaugh’s trial ─ a trial (I insist), without corroboration of allegations, without sworn testimony or any evidence, and with an attempt to abort the judge’s immanent confirmation based on hollow interpretations extracted from a high school yearbook!

With her pivotal ‘yes’ vote, Senator Susan Collins assured Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation. 

The Internet ignited. In typical partisan invective, blogs appeared on the Internet that postured as simple social discourse about Senator Susan Collins, but in fact were mainly ad hominem attacks, which include swipes at her health, among which are Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Lyme Disease, and Spasmodic Dysphonia. The last item on that list, often referred to as a ‘speech defect,’ reveals an amateur attempt to portray and intensify the impact of vocal spasms.

One blog highlighted, “head tremors and broken speech.” The centerpiece of those blogs reads, “…psych-neurological [sic: I think the author meant ‘neuropsychological’] condition caused by unresolved anger from early childhood trauma…” Oooops! That’s what I call “a reverse euphemism,” in this case used not to diminish whatever health problems the senator may or may not have, but rather to falsely and powerfully imply that the senator is an angry child. (Especially note the operative word: ‘unresolved’!)

And how about Alzheimer’s disease? Er…not very likely. What are the chances that Senator Susan Collins suffers from Alzheimer’s but manages to compose a masterful speech to confirm the judge as a Justice of the Supreme Court. I doubt that many students listened to or read the full transcript of Senator Collins’ speech.  Instead of focusing on a ‘speech defect’ ─ in fact, a vocal defect ─ the students might have focused, as I did, on the content of the speech. They might have learned something.

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