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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Thursday, May 01, 2003


Sick of scare quotes
That settles it. I'm sick and tired of scare quotes. This has got to have been the only war in the history of man where there were more scare quotes this war than civilian casualties. Or should that be, civilian "casualties." I no longer care who's doing the scare-quoting, what the purpose is, nor the opinion behind it. As Alan Jacobs wrote a while ago in The Weekly Standard,
Scare quotes have two functions, the first of which is quite straightforward: They allow their users very easily to express incredulity about, and often contempt for, the views of their political opponents. But they also allow those users to avoid the hard work of thinking up their own descriptions of events or people or ideas. And they're parasitic: They suck all their nourishment from the host words, contributing nothing of their own.
And not only is it a cheap trick, it's a cheap trick that points the sentence at a specific group of people that share the writer's opinion, as if the writer is saying, "this is what they say--but you and I both know that's not true, and what's more, we know what is true, and it's far less pretty." But in a war already awash in scare quotes, what has pushed me over the edge?

This. An innocent looking BBC article about how Bush is the easy frontrunner for the 2004 election. Or, more accurately, how devious Mr. Bush has manipuated people, places, things, events and the very laws of nature, so as to delude us sheep-like Americans into voting for him in zombie-like mobs come 2004. (It's very obviously an opinion piece, but is not labeled as such, and is written by the Beeb's "Washington Correspondent." I assume this is a British thing.) Not even three full paragraphs into the piece, we get this MOAB of a scare quote:
From the "saving" of Private Jessica Lynch to the Texas homecoming of the seven American PoWs, this has been the most stage-managed war in American history.
Isn't that nice? Not only did Karl Rove engineer the battle that led to her capture so that it resulted in the death of all the ugly people, leaving the young, pretty female alive, but when he hired an actor to play Iraqi Lawyer Mohamed al-Rehaief who "told" American "troops" where she was being "held," what they did was not actually "save" her. No, the Iraqi's were treating her well. Only slapping her a few times, and I'm sure the rape would have been kept to a minimum.

So, I'm done with scare quotes. I am not, however, done fisking that sentence.

I love that the only two photo ops he mentions involve POWs. He essentially said, "From the freeing of a POW, to the freeing of... uh, seven POWs, this has been the most stage managed war in American history." And isn't that exactly what they said about the last war? And the war before that? I guess they just keep getting more and more stage-manageder!

Ok, now I'm done fisking that sentence.
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