Reply to: The War of the Words
Stephanie Mot makes an excellent comment on a most important issue, and one that does not just apply to Americans. As an Australian I despair at the way 'USA speak' has begun to permeate my own language. From an Aussie's perspective I add two further comments which may, or may not ring true to US readers: 1. When I was in high school my English teachers taught us that economy of language was usually best in the majority of cases. Thus if one could use two, or even one word to say what was being said in 3 or more this normally resulted in a greater level of comprehension by most readers. In the US, and increasingly in Australia this maxim seems to have died. Take for example the term 'the American people' used by your President endlessly. In Australia, we would normally use the term 'Americans' but now even our Prime Minister seems to have been vaccinated by whoever got to the President. 2. This leads to a further point: why is it that President Bush, most of his team and many other politicians and leaders seem to have to speak in 3 word phrases these days? Are they seeking to fill in space/time? Do they presume Americans as so silly that they can't understand an idea or concept using concise speech or is there some other hidden answer that a dumb Aussie like me can't fathom? Let's all work to get rid of this superfluous style of speech and focus on the issues before both our nations using 'simple' English.
Reply to: Confrontational Democracy
So, Bush and Co. now want to spend 20.4 Mil of our tax dollars so that their message can be broadcast to Iranians? Has anyone done a study of how effective these propoganda tactics are? Honestly, they dont seem to be too effective, Iran still considers us to be the "Great Satan". Does anyone in Iran actually listen to US radio? Just a suggestion, how about using my 20.4 mil to re-fund one of the blue bazillion social programs Bush has already cut.
Reply to: The War of the Words
"Male circumcision (the removal of the foreskin) and female circumcision, which involves the removal of the entire clitoris and often all of the labia as well, are in no way equivalent."
This obviously isn't the forum for a knock-down drag-out fight over this issue, but of course they're equivalent. The difference is one of degree, not of kind. Granted that male circumcision is usually -- that's usually! -- not as functionally damaging as the female mutilation you describe, it still constitutes mutilation by any reasonable definintion of that word.
Routine infant circumcision (RIC) as it's done in America --
* Is medically unnecessary and violates the first principle of humane medicine: First, do no harm.
* Is not recommended by any major medical society in the world. The closest thing it gets to a recommendation is the American Academy of Pediatrics' waffling statement that it offers "potential benefits," which translates as no benefit for the great majority of human males and only marginal benefit for most of the remainder. Some medical societies, e.g. the Royal Australian College of Physicians, expressly disparage it.
* Results in loss of the multitude of erogenous nerve endings in the inner foreskin and loss of sensitivity in the glans. Granted, that's not nearly as severe as the worst-case female mutilation you described, but it still constitutes damaged sexual function.
* Can cause complications ranging from mild to severe, even resulting in loss of the entire penis or, yes, death in rare cases. Can you tell me what "benefit" a dead child received that justified killing him?
* Violates the basic right of every human being to the integrity of the body s/he is born with.
* Is done mainly for cultural reasons (so he'll match his daddy; so he won't get teased in the locker room; because the in-laws expect it) with the dubious "medical benefit" as an excuse. The AAP sees no ethical problem in signing off on that, but what other body part are they willing to cut off a child for "religious, ethnic and cultural" reasons? None? Why not?
* Points up the double standard for women's versus men's rights in the U.S. FGM is rightly illegal, but MGM is not only legal but culturally favored. So why are a baby girl's genitals inviolable while a baby boy's are on the chopping block? What about the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws for everyone?The word "circumcision" is a comforting euphemism. It means "cutting around" but says nothing about what's getting cut or the consequences of the cutting. If you use the more verbose but descriptively accurate phase "cutting the foreskin off the penis," people get nervous -- "Why can't you just use the word that's given?"
You said, "Those who use the term 'genital cutting' rather than 'mutilation' clearly have no idea what they're talking about." With due respect, I think you'd do well to learn more about what you're talking about, too -- re-examine your understanding of "equivalence" at the very least.
Reply to: The War of the Words
At last someone tackles the issue. The American people should wake up from these mantras. If you read any speech or interview of a member of the Bush administration since 2002, you can spot at least three or four keywords or key expressions meant to hammer the "truth" inside the audience's brain. Sometimes it gets to the point the sentence doesn't have any sense. Anytime they are under attack, they reflexively dash to one of these safe spots. The audience may be brainwashed but at the top of the Administration everybody has been very well trained by their spin doctors. The expression "hijacking the language" mirrors the 9/11 attacks. The destruction cannot be compared and the ones who did it were the very pilots the people elected, but there is much violence out there too. Stephane MOT http://www.stephanemot.com PS : I also fully agree with the previous comment on "genital mutilation".
Reply to: Hiring Real Reporters for Fake News
I feel kindo weird : I wrote a short story fifteen years ago involving a "Virtual News Network" and that wasn't a nice story. But this takes the cake : controling the media coverage becomes such a key issue it has to be part of the exercise package. What kind of model democracy puts propaganda at the same level as security ? Regarding "mock terrorist exercise" : one of the 3 French former Guantanamo inmates was released yesterday - there was no charge to be found against him. It just took a couple of days to check it in France but 3 years were not enough in Guantanamo's Club Med. Stephane MOT http://www.stephanemot.com