The Political Bastardisation of the English Language

2016-06-01 05:49

I recently watched a TV news report showing an impoverished woman, standing amongst shacks and surrounded by a number of small, undernourished, children (hopefully, they weren’t all her children!) – a tragic sight indeed!

I’ve forgotten the question that she was asked by the TV reporter, but she replied by saying that DEMOCRACY had let her down because she had remained in poverty!

Clearly, she believed that “democracy” should have resulted in her, and others like her, being freed from poverty and given free houses, free services etc!

But that certainly isn’t what is meant by “democracy”, I thought!

And then I recalled another word which one also often hears being misused for political “mileage”, and that’s the word “FREEDOM” eg “economic freedom”, which some try to make us believe means to uplift the poor to the level of the rich – presumably by taking from the rich (which is what our tax system is quite effectively doing already!).

There’s little doubt that following our first democratic elections in 1994, the expectations of our poor were very high – and there certainly appears to have been the naïve belief that, with our new “democracy” and “freedom”, Government would provide free homes etc to our vast number of poor ie some 40–46 million of our total population of 55 million, depending upon who one considers to be “poor”!

Consider the dictionary definitions of the words, “democracy” and “freedom,

“Democracy” refers to a SYSTEM of government, with all citizens above voting-age being able to vote for who they want to represent them in government ie it’s government by the people … and that’s all it is!

“Democracy” therefore does not, in any way, mean/infer that the Government will be providing free housing, free services etc to all of its poor!

Similarly, the word “freedom” refers to the RIGHT to speak, act, or think as one wants (subject to certain reasonable limitations).

“Freedom” therefore also doesn’t mean/infer that Government will be providing free housing, free services etc to all of its poor!

Some may try and link the concepts of “democracy” and “freedom” to our Constitution, maintaining that Government has a Constitutional obligation to ensure that all of its citizens have the basics of free housing and free services.

Whilst their understanding as to the State’s Constitutional obligation is indeed correct, the obligation to provide to all of those who are considered to be poor, is tempered (for very good and logical reasons!) with the following condition/requirement :

Section 26 (2) of the Constitution) states:

“The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, WITHIN ITS AVAILABLE RESOURCES, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right (my capitals).

Therefore, a government can only be bound to provide what it can physically, and financially, afford to do – therefore, the words, “democracy” and “freedom”, EVEN WHEN MISUSED, are trumped by affordability!

It’s very sad that some of our politicians have seen fit to bastardise/misuse the English language (specifically, these two very important words) and, in so doing, have succeeded in manipulating the minds and expectations of so many people!

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, please correct people in the proper use of these two words (“democracy” and “freedom”) – even if it means ruffling the feathers of some of our more vocal, and populist, political leaders!

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