Saturday, 19 May 2012

ARGUING OVER WORDS

There are some arguments worth having for their outcomes may determine a travesty or a triumph of justice. An argument is essentially presenting a case for something. To do this requires the precise use of language. For justice and civility to uphold the notion that underpins Western Society- that all men are created equal - requires that words ensuring this are understood. The keen observer will notice that in my first four sentences I have used several words which resonate with us all. Justice. Civility. Equality. But what if someone started to use these precise and precious words to mean exactly opposite what they are intended to convey? And what if pointing this out raised the ire of these redefiners so that it induced a barrage of ironic accusations such as:  discriminatory, bigot, biased! 

The great preacher, Dr. F.W. Boreham understood that the use of words was a matter of life or death. He felt he had a lot to learn from barristers as they argued their cases for those accused of murder and the like. During the early days of his first pastorate, he spent a deal of time in the Dunedin Law Courts studying the ways of the best lawyers as they fought to save the lives of their clients. Boreham spent the rest of his life working hard to use the right word in a sermon or essay. He would write, re-write, and re-write again to find the precise word to convey what he was intending.

An example of Dr. F.W. Boreham's detailed
corrections of the Publisher's book Proofs
In a culture that has successfully smuggled in alien meanings to words like discriminate, equality, tolerate, it has become very difficult to even discuss these things anymore. It wasn't that long ago that if someone called you discriminating they were actually complimenting you on your fine taste. It was a statement of a person's ability to distinguish between things that were often subtlety different. It never condoned unfair discrimination - but it wasn't so daft as to consider things that were equal in one way as being equal in every way.

And while we've introduced equality we should proceed to perhaps the more formal introductions and re-acquaint ourselves with this divinely endowed word. To equal in worth does not mean to be equal in kind (and vice-versa). The relationship between a man and his daughter is a kind of relationship. The relationship between the same man and his wife is a different kind. Are these relationships equal? It should be immediately apparent that because these relationships are of a different kind that the question of their equality does not apply. Of course, the discerning reader will also notice that I have employed two of the words already in question to make this point. When I say they "are of a different kind" I am actually having to logically discriminate to even use the word different. This is why those who are hi-jacking our language are so militant in their efforts to refuse either discriminate or equality to mean what they actually mean because if they do then their justification for calling what is vastly different as unfair discrimination is without basis, and their shrillness over calling relationships (which were never designed to be sexualised) as being equal to any other relationship is similarly without foundation.

That words have precise intended meanings which become the jewels in the crown of truth seems to be an intolerable idea. If something is precise it cannot tolerate its misrepresentation. Yet, it is this absolutely necessary definition of truth is now being ridiculed as intolerant. What is bewildering is just how intolerant those are who claim that others are being intolerant. If someone expressed the truth that certain body parts are designed and created for the purpose of reproduction and other body parts are designed and created for the evacuation of human waste, they are accused of being "intolerant". C.S. Lewis made this obvious point over five decades ago in his book The Abolition of Man when he set up a proponent of this idea arguing that there was no need to distinguish between the two things that could come out of a chicken's rear end. Lewis showed the nonsense of this kind of reasoning.  And to claim that by distinguishing between kinds, a person is somehow being unfairly intolerant is also a nonsense. If we accept this nonsense that all forms of intolerance are bad, we should immediately close down every prison and apologise to every incarcerated prisoner - because we do not tolerate uncivil behaviour as a society!

To make these points, Dr. F.W. Boreham cites G.K. Chesterton in 1932-
The first man to land upon the moon will find themselves confronted by a huge notice-board:
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
At least, so Mr Chesterton says. Perhaps he is not to be taken literally. It may be his whimsical way of saying that there are certain stately principles of conduct so fundamental, so inflexible and so penetrating that they stand, mandatory and imperative, in every world and in every age.
(A WITCH'S BREWING, "The Signboard On The Moon", page 61)
Certain truths, certain principles, certain standards "so inflexible" that apply in every world and in every age...now there's words which will cause an argument today. But maybe it's an argument worth having because it just might be about the travesty or triumph of justice and ultimately, eternally, life and death. I seem to recall that there was some kind of arguing over words from the beginning of time ("Has God said...?!") which has stained every human heart with a natural objection to the One whose words are True but which now seem objectionable to us. Coincidentally, this arguing over words at the beginning came immediately after the Designer established the definition of a word we seem to have a cohort of divinophobes arguing over today. What is at stake is thought to be the mere definition of a word, when in fact, what is at stake is the Designer's very claim to be.

Andrew Corbett, 19th May 2012

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