Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A-hem. A "suggestion" or two.

I have already explained the rule for using them term "thought police."* I would like to expand on this.

"Suggestion" #1: Stop quoting Voltaire. You can read an appreciate him, and really you have to to appreciate the Enlightenment, but please, please, stop quoting him. Especially on the internet, or in opinion columns. "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" has not be original since the 18th century. I am looking with special irritation at internet atheist sites. There are so many other ways of saying what that quote says. As George Orwell once said, "Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print." Which, rather conveniently (not to say glibly), brings me to my second point.

"Suggestion" #2: Read and appreciate Orwell, enjoy him as one of the masters of English prose style of the past few hundred years, but for gods' sake, stop using him out of context. Not everything is an Orwellian nightmare, and there's enough out there that is truly Orwellian to flex those quoting muscles. The recent boingboing kerfluffle is an example of poor use of Orwellian language. What the BB editors did was basically within their rights, and while I'd like to know why it happened, it's not going to change. I also think they could have handled it better. It was not a Room 101 situation, Violet Blue has not been disappeared from the internets, and I have - what with my naturally sunny nature and all - a hunch that the BB team will learn from this. And I'd hope that other internet voices learn to stop cheapening Orwell and start rereading him.

*If you are not referring to a life or death situation, its use makes you a jerk.

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