The BGA Guide To NewSpeak

Over the last few years we have observed the increasing pressure upon people to modify their modes of speech. – at least within the English-speaking world’s middle classes. The lower and upper classes go about their linguistic business without bothering to be bothered – but those of us in the middle are being herded assiduously each day.

Some of us think it a con. Conjoined, confused, contradicted, and contrailed ( Actually that should be chemtrailed…), we are told that our words must be gender-neutral, non-sexist, non-racial, and inoffensive. The groups who are said to be offended by our utterances grow daily, and we risk social calumny if we do not say the right words. We are being led or goaded to NewSpeak. If we do not comply, and do not comply fast enough, we may find that we are sent for re-education…

To avoid this the BGA would like to offer a small guide to the perplexed – your NewSpeak 101, if you will. Remember that if you are not part of the problem, we can change the problem. And if you are not part of the solution, we can have you dissolved…

A. Gender-neutral words.

This only works in English. The French and Germans laugh at you. The Italians make secret signs at you after you turn your back.

Never refer to anything as a he or a she. Or an it, for that matter. Try to avoid referring to anything at all. Interpretive dance works best for most occasions.

If a job can be done by a man or a woman, you must never acknowledge the fact that one or the other of the workers is one or the other of the sexes whilst doing it. Some jobs stop this by their very nature; Pole Danceress never appears in the Job Wanted columns. Others can be made neutral and awkward by using the suffix “person”. Tank Gunnerperson or Plumbperson. You’ll get the hang of it.

Hangperson? Brrrrrrrrr.

B. Racially charged words

Every word – every single word – is racially charged and unacceptable. You just need to fix someone in your sights and listen for them to say anything and there you have ’em.

Again, interpretive dance is the best way to avoid the accusation of racism. But be careful which soundtrack you use. Avoid anything from Michael Jackson.

C. The passionate words

You must not mock people who are passionate, for that is cruel. You’ll be amazed at how many there are and how thin your conversation can become as new divisions of victims and warriors appear on the battlefield.

An example: You may have been careful and kindly in the old days about physical or mental distress, and could navigate a simple request for a pie with sauce at the local deli without getting a glare of outrage and a good half-hour scolding. Now, the ingredients of the pie and sauce will offend one person, and the company that baked it will offend another. The fact that it is sold in a shop will make a third person angry and the fact that you have enough money to pay for it will cause a howl from a fourth quarter.

And don’t think you’ll escape condemnation by staying outside on the footpath and eating a carrot stick, either, you racist you…

Well, what to do, what to do…The BGA has two recommendations – both of them equally invalid.

Either say what you will in words of your own choosing or say nothing at all. You’ll be thought a fool if you adopt the second course of action and prove it if you adopt the first, but in this first case you will at least have the satisfaction of being damned that you did instead of being damned that you didn’t.

Remember: Careful Talk Costs Lives

What He Wrote…

We are being cautioned to be careful of what we write on social media these days – the anonymity we thought we had is non-existent. We are see-able from both sides of the screen every time we press a key. This is frightening for some…but I think it’s a great idea.

You see, these essays ( blogs, quips, whatever ) are written in a style that suggests they are hyperbolic humour. Satirical material not to be taken seriously. And in truth, many of them are…all except the ones that are deadly serious and clinically accurate. The active ingredient is slipped inside a sugar coating, which in turn is covered in salty sarcasm and then dipped in bright kindliness. By the time all the layers have dissolved and the real message is plain, the reader has forgotten the entire thing. In this way I have been able to reveal the alien chem-trailing, ethnically-cleansed, truth about the printing on the 1959 Tootsie Roll wrapper without fear of Big-Confectionary’s hitmen. So far they are busy with US politicians in a glucose-fuelled orgy of destruction.

I would probably be nervous about what I’ve written over the past 7 years if it were hauled up in a Magistrate’s court. Very little of it would stand as evidence of a reasonable person passing and re-passing upon their lawful occasions. The saving grace is any beak who looked at a brief against me would be so disheartened about the amount of reading and deciphering that they’d have to do that they’d throw the case into the backlog for decades.

I am careful not to mock the judiciary. I actually believe that the Australian ones do a good job for the most part, and the odd rogue is quickly picked up by peer attention and suppressed. That’s a sensible response in a powerful profession.

May I go now, Your Worship?

I Await Your Speech…

With reprobated breath.  I know I’m going to disapprove of it, of course, but I’m not sure yet what part I’ll want to consider most offensive. I’m leafing through my trigger phrases now.

If you’ll give me a few minutes, I’ll prepare a spontaneous outburst. I’ve had to do a few lately and I want to be able to present something a little different each time. It never does to put out the same material repeatedly, as the press soon get tired of it and you miss out on coverage. Once they turn away, you have a devil of a time getting them to pay attention to you again.

Ah, I think I have it.

We’ll do this one on the freedom of speech. You get to speak, but I have the freedom to silence you. Don’t be worried – as soon as you start to say what I want you to say, I’ll take my hand off your mouth and my writ off your publication. I shall defend democracy, Mother Earth, and The Children Of the Future. That should pretty much ring you in with  a circle of outraged virtue and allow me to look good for the 6:00 news.

Note: No fair introducing facts into any of this. Not all of us know any. Keep it on a feelings and emotion level where we can all writhe at the same time.

You Can’t Say That!

But I did say it

” But you are not allowed to say that! That is not acceptable! You are not allowed to have those opinions! We forbid it! ”

We? Who is this ” we ” that you write about?

”  Me and all the other the moral people! The people who are caring and sensible and good and right and virtuous! The people who demand that you toe the line and conform to our moral standards and only print our opinion! ”

So no other opinion is permitted?

” No! We are a free country and you are free to think as we do or suffer our displeasure! ”

Do you always speak in exclamation marks?

” Yes! We are never wrong! “

The Experiments – Part Four – Final

The heading image placed on this last experimental page is a conventional representation of a one of the flags of the Confederate States of America in the 1860’s. Recently it has become the centrepiece in a storm of controversy in the United States and has been used in a number of deplorable political and criminal acts, as well as for theatrical presentations.

It was also an extremely small part of an image on a weblog column dealing with die-cast toy cars – fuzzy and pixellated though it was, I suspect it triggered a mechanism in Facebook that blanked the image. I determined to see how that mechanism operated. The previous three posts on this column ( go back and read them ) detail the experimental means I employed to see if the thing could be set off again.

If we don’t see an image up there on Facebook today – or if it’s a generalized image of my studio card – we’ll know the trigger mechanism is the entire, coloured, detailed pattern. Every other combination has been ignored. If you do see the flag pattern, then the whole episode was just a flash in the social media pan.

The flag pattern won’t be shown again – not for political or moral reasons – but because it is just not relevant to life and thought here in Australia. And that may be a hard thing for anyone in North America to accept…that this is another part of the world with people who lead other lives. The distresses that the North Americans encounter or engender within their own borders are theirs to deal with amongst themselves. To put it succinctly – it’s none of my business.

Readers can be as proud or as ashamed – as busy or as idle – as high or as low as they wish. No need to howl at me with either rage or approval – my opinion on North American matters is not relevant. The only thing you might care to do is to share some thoughts:

If you can’t see an 1860’s flag on the top of a Facebook post…what other things are you not permitted to see? What price constitutional amendments or bills of rights ? Who decides the let and hindrance of your life?

 

The Experiments – Part Three

The second week saw the reposting of the initial experiments in graphics repeated but with the Photoshop inversion turned off – the colours of the experimental panel are the red, white, and blue of the original flag image.

This may, or may not be the actual colours of the Confederate flag – I’ve never seen an original relic. Logic tells me that cloth dyes of that time would have a lot less purity and the intervening years – plus Yankee shot and shell will have dimmed the things. Even a few years’ flying for a modern flag will show considerable wear on it, and maritime flags worst of all.

Note that there are many modern flags – including Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Russia, France, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United States of America to list a few –  that use red, white, and blue in their flags. The reason I mention this is that if the censor is electronic and dependent upon pure colour recognition, last week would have gotten a pass-through. This week would start the circuits.

A.SIze, aspect ratio, colour all correct. No response.

B.

There’s the cross again but in pure white. Is this St. Patrick’s cross? Like on the Union Jack? I think it might be. No response.

C.An addition of the blue bars to the cross. No response. Is it too close to the Norwegian flag to get an alarm buzzer? Or is there a real person looking at the experiment – possibly with finger poised?

The last part – the entire flag placed prominently on Facebook with a post underneath disclaiming any political or racial bias – will prove the pudding.

The reaction of Facebook could be several things:

a. No reaction. It was all a gas bubble. I can go back to playing Candy Crush and looking for pictures of cats.

b. Enormous reaction. Immediate removal of all Facebook accounts. Howls of rage from civic groups and all the consequent social furore that can be sustained. I should be sad to lose the facility that Facebook provides, but then I have the example of several friends who deliberately avoid it – they live full intellectual lives nonetheless.

c. A polite wigging from the administrators done by automatic posting a scolding communication. Inviting an equally polite rebuttal, of course. Written by hand…

d. Virtuous unfriending or blocking by Facebook friends who have not read and will not read the actual articles. The one-line judges and the keyboard warriors are the most likely for this. I shall be sad to lose them, but the world is full of consolation.

The Experiments – Part Two

Remember I said I tried out a number of graphic components to see the point at which the Facebook robot censor or real person triggered? I secured an image of the Confederate flag and cleaned it up. Then I deconstructed it and changed the colour in Photoshop. Each day I popped one image on the screen:

A.

Reverse of red. No reaction. But a nice colour for a GM car of the 1950’s. This has the proportions of the flag.

B. 

Addition of the PS-inversed blue field of the flag. Rather similar to St. Andrew’s cross on the Scottish flag, though they have a better blue and a clear white. That central colour is the inverse of a deep blue. No reaction

C.

Well, there you go – the PS inverse of the Stars And Bars straight out. If the circuit was going to be triggered by the size, shape and pattern, this should do it. But no reaction.

Note that at no point did I use the comments section of Facebook to mention politics, flags, Confederates, or censorship. I just threw out the images to see what would occur. And I tried to keep myself from coming to premature conclusions about what was happening. Some of my Facebook friends knew what the pattern looked like but at this stage of the  experiment they also drew no final conclusions.

After one week, I switched the colours…