D-Speak or Not?

Doublespeak's Ubiquity
It's remarkable how much doublespeak we are subjected to each day. . . . the doublespeak emanating from Washington has never been more prevalent, more skillful, more insidious, or more potentially devastating than it is today. -Sal Marino

How Much Doublespeak Can One Day Hold?

To illustrate the prevalence of doublespeak, let's follow John Citizen throughout his day, as doublespeak is thrown at him from all sides: on the drive to work, at work, on the way home, at the store, and at home.

On the drive to work, John tunes in to his favorite AM station, and hears that US troops are beginning a "rescue mission" in an obscure "developing nation." It is hoped that the "incursion" will go quickly, with "weapons systems" achieving "effective results" during their first "visit" and with little "collateral damage" caused by "incontinent ordnance."

At work, John goes to lunch with some friends. He learns his company is implementing "operation excellence" in which at least one-third of the employees will be "involuntarily separated from the payroll." Management is "refocusing the company's skill set," by practicing "work reengineering" and "proactive downsizing." He wonders what he will say on his next application: "I was chosen to participate in the 'voluntary resignation program'. . ."

On the way home, John passes a business called "Feed Materials Production Center," never suspecting that the place is a uranium processing plant. He would be even more horrified to know that the Department of Energy allowed the emission of harmful levels of radiation and that groundwater in a one mile radius around the plant was contaminated by improperly stored nuclear waste.

At the store, John runs in to buy some chicken for supper. He makes sure to buy a chicken that is labeled "fresh." Little does he know that fresh doesn't really mean fresh--a "fresh" chicken is one that has been "deep-chilled" (as opposed to frozen) to 28 degrees F. Hmm. . . last I heard, 32 degrees F was the freezing point. . .

At home, John flips the channel to the President's state of the union address. The newly-elected President who promised "no new taxes" in his campaign was now proposing billions of dollars in "receipts proposals," "user fees," and "revenue enhancements." Hmm. . . sounds kind of suspicious. What, exactly, is a "user fee"?

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©1998 by Michele Damron
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Last updated 4/30/98.