Friday, August 27, 2010

That egg on your face was brought to you by Humpty Dumpty

My last post dealt with a bit o' back n' forth between a couple of commenters on another website over a 2001 speech made by Obama and his use of the word "redistribution" (among other things).

One of the posters, nathanbforrest45, felt that anytime someone comes to Obama's defense by saying "that's not what he means" what they are really doing is hiding the fact that he really is a socialist that hates America and wants to do away with the Constitution.  Why is "the left so esoteric" he asks "that we cannot understand their true meaning?"  "Perhaps," he states "the left should say what it really means in less "nuanced" phrasing."

And then he posts, without understanding the irony, this quote from "Alice Adventures in Wonderland" a book considered to be "one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre."
"Words mean precisely what I want them to mean, neither more nor less" said Humpty Dumpty to Alice.
But alas, irony and logic are lost on the simpleminded.  The conservative wingnuts on the right have made a parlor game out of trying to make Obama sound like the evil antichrist they need him to be.  The reason you must understand the concept of context and nuanced phrasing is because that's how we speak.

If words only had one meaning, and only one meaning, Paul Simon would never have written "I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued."  There would be no need for the word misconstrued because words would mean precisely what was said.  So let us look at another example of how something got misconstrued and used in a way that it was not intended.

Way back in 2000, George W. Bush (you remember him) made the comment:
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier," pausing and then joking, "just so long as I'm the dictator."
Now, if you want to play the - they should "say what it really means in less "nuanced" phrasing" - game, Bush said he wants to be a dictator. I mean there it is in black and white.  He said it......I'm not putting words in his mouth or selectively editing.  What I would be doing, however, is taking them out of context, and misconstruing their meaning (which was an appropriate and funny joke about how difficult it is to get things passed).

So if you thought for one tiny second that Bush wanted to be a dictator, well now you know the truth.  If you continue to think this even after reading my explanation, well you are an idiot.

Which brings me to:
"He called the Constitution a deeply flawed document," 
Context and selective editing.  As a poster named Evelyn_S succinctly wrote back in 2008:
He did not  call the Constitution a deeply flawed document in either clip.  Did not use those words.  He was referring to the racism in colonial times, when humans were held in slavery.  This, he was saying, is a flaw in the thinking of the framers of the constitution.
So my fine Humpty Dumpty, words do indeed mean exactly what the speaker wants them to mean.  Now that you know what was actually said and meant, I'll excuse your ignorance.  But if you continue to want them to mean what you want them to mean then you are more akin to Tweedledum, which in less nuanced terms, I am calling you an idiot.

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