Euphemistic Language, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Satire and Torture

I have a fascination for the English language in part because it wasn’t my first language. English has implicit to its structure a certain freedom to create. This was a crucial element to the styling of both James Joyce and Thomas Mann. The particular line which comes to mind if from James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man:

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moo-cow coming down along the road and this moo-cow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…

In terms of literature this ability is great. This fluidity of language is  great for telling dirty jokes which according to Orwell are a sort of mental rebellion.  Stylistically speaking concerning the writing here on this blog, I like employing the logical implicit behind some funny wording and apply it to the realm of sexuality. Doing so exposes the  faulty logic. The misappropriate of logic is definitely a means of deconstructing social norms, and a corner stone of  Juvenalian satire.

There is a historical reason why English is so malleable. We have on the one hand  the colonial and imperialistic activities of United Kingdom really forced the language to be malleable as it spread like cancer throughout Africa, Asia etc. On the other hand we have the supposed melting pot of the United State Metropolis bringing many diverse cultures and languages together all wonderful stuff until one realizes the dark side of all this flexibility.

The Dark Side of Language

“You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth. I don’t like words that hidethe truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms oreuphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation. For some reason it just keeps getting worse.

George Carlin give a great example that is pertinent today. He talks about Shell Shock: a term coined around WW1 “when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to it’sabsolute peak and maximum, can’t take any more input. The nervous system haseither snapped or is about to snap.” This as Carlin stipulates was Simple, honest, direct language. By the time WW2 came around it was called battle fatigue, by the time of Korea it was called Occupational Exhaustion, now it is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Carlin asserts that if we had continued using the term shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. But that didn’t happen because using soft euphemistic language takes out the life out of life.

Why is this Important

More U.S. Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010. Something seems pretty fucked up about this.

For the second year (2010) in a row, more US soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). “If you… know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know,” General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, “because we don’t know.”  Suicide is a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill – and watch your friends be killed – particularly when it’s for a war based on lies.  Perhaps being required to bag the mangled flesh of fellow soldiers could be another reason that some are committing suicide.

This sounds like Post Traumatic Disorder a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Having PTSD also may place you at a higher risk of other mental health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

This sounds like PTSD to me.

Euphemistic Language today

Today you are fortunate Torture is no longer called torture it is now ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques‘. According to Carlin observation, we have more syllables and less meaning.

Jose Rodriguez, former head of CIA’s clandestine service,  sat down with 60 minutes to talk about his new book Hard Measures How Aggressive CIA Actions after 9/11 Saved American Lives. Here are some cool comments:

Being Tortured In A Stress Position Is Like Going To The Gym: “I was thinkin’ about this the other day. The objective was to induce muscle fatigue, and most people who work out do a lot more fatiguing of the muscles.”

Depriving A Prisoner Of Sleep For Seven Days Is Like Jet Lag: “Sleep deprivation works. I’m sure, Lesley, with all the traveling that you do, that you have suffered from jet lag. And you know, when you don’t get a good night’s sleep for two, three days, it’s very hard.”

Systematic Torture Of Prisoners By Slapping Them For Hours Is Like A Bullshit Western Movie Cliché: “We don’t break his jaw. And the objective is not to inflict pain. The objective is to let him know there’s a new sheriff in town, and he better pay attention.

“Everything You Thought America Stood For Is A Lie: Lesley Stahl:  So sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation. I mean, this is Orwellian stuff. The United States doesn’t do that.
Jose Rodriguez: Well, we do

Some Thoughts

This goes back to my idea, my theory really I jokingly on the blog called the Genocide Game. All the Member of the United Nations Security Council have all committed horrendous genocidal acts. They take turns calling each other out on their past offenses to give the illusion that they are the moral compass of the world.

I wonder what Enhanced Interrogation techniques will be in my children’s time perhaps Approved Questioning Methods would be a nice fit, after all torture is no different than going to the gym after being horribly jet lagged

What’s Next:

I will now  take this piece of information and satirize this as only MrMary can do.

Info/Material taken from this Gothamist Article

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  1. Another great post, well done. Troubling statistic about troops and suicide, that’s incredible.


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