Like a pullulation of moorhens swarming under the shade of drimys winteri, Politicados gather. As sereh through a sugarcane field, the message of the Weekend Politics Thread spreads. Akin to most adults, Uvular anymore only adds new words to his vocabulary when he catches reports of the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Orthographic gladiatorial games annually stir the mind cockles of your spurned lexophile of a WPT host. They also set him browsing through the stacks of the unabridged Borgesian thought experiment of a living language in which words’ meanings morph in a maddening miasma of the murkiest mélange of mental mazes.2
Take, for instance and the entire purpose of this palimpsest of a post, “choice.” Advocates for reproductive rights and defenders of the personhood of people who can become pregnant somehow lost the debate over the commonly accepted definition and practice of opting what to do with a fetus.
Consider the cognitive consequences of the following chart.
As of less than a month ago, 57-85 percent of Americans supported choice for impregnated people. Almost no one polled3 in all instances opposed the concept of giving a person carrying a fetus the option of ridding themselves of that agglomeration of nonviable or actively harmful uterine-entrapped cells.
Yet, just 55 percent of U.S. residents self-identify as “pro-choice” on abortion. One4 wonders what the 30-odd5 “pro-life” survey respondents who sign off on terminating pregnancies in cases other than strained finances or self-determination think when they think about selecting a particular action.
Do we, must we, live in a Humpty-Dumpty nation? How long can society, or any shared reality, exist when every conversation amounts to this Carollingian threat?
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” -- Through the Looking Glass
Read that exchange programmatically. Acting as though words have no agreed meanings permits a speaker, writer or survey respondent to create and enforce alternate realities. Entire political parties and governments exist and proliferate by pulling this linguistic sleight of hand.
Uvular now anticipates bad-faith right-wingers lobbing back “Well, lib, what is a woman?”
First, ask an evolutionary biologist. Biological sex has everything to do with chromosomes, epigenetics, hormone regulation, brain chemistry and all the stuff that fascinates Uvular exactly up to the point that he spots an equation.
Second, a right-winger does not intend to discuss women in general or particular. Rather, they conceive of a woman as no thing6 other than the carrier of a fecund womb. To use the right-winger’s implicit and explicit definition of women, infertile individuals do not qualify; only a parturient person passes muster. So, you know, metaphorically (never actually) fuck right-wingers.
Have you words of your own to use? Do so in the comments.