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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Newspeak 2.0

 The  "Newspeak" spoken in Orwell's classic book of a futuristic dreary police state is a naive and simplistic  effort when compared to the language used by the current lovers of authoritarianism. The Patriot Act does more to deprive citizens of their hard won rights than anything since the Second World War. The Clear Skies Act frees up regulations to encourage more coal burning. (That's now "Clean Coal" in the Newspeak 2.0 parlance.) The "Healthy Forests Act" opened thousands of the remaining 4% of roadless forest areas to clear-cutting. The "Freedom to Worship Act" gave churches power over local zoning regulations, and funneled federal money into subsidies for fundamentalist recruiters. Any organization with the word "Family" in its letterhead is probably going to be a gang of fundamentalist thugs. Instead of weekly hate rallies that were held in "1984" we have hour after hour of virulent fiery loathing on AM radio targeted at the Liberal Dé Jour. 

It is no wonder that the electorate is becoming more and more cynical. Not one of the "Contract With America" bullet points has been honored save the one that kicked single mothers off the dole and out to minimum wage jobs, leaving the street to educate their kids. Market economics now means socializing cost and guaranteeing profits. Free trade now means poor third world farmers have to compete with subsidized cotton, rice and sugar from the US. Right to life now means a right to run someone else's life.

The latest Newspeak 2.0 laws proposed are a batch loosely labeled "Academic Freedom Guarantee". The result of these state laws is to allow students to opt out of ideas or courses that don't agree with their personal opinions. The upshot is that public K-12 students may opt out of any mention of evolution, the central process in biology. Also the idea that the Earth is more than ten thousand years old is forbidden. Hiring a science teacher, and then forbidding the teaching of science is not only stupid, but it is evil. Pi is three in the bible, so there goes math. Western culture is Science. Unique among the great world civilizations, the process of science illuminates our path. Certainly we have a lot of superstitious baggage left over from the dark ages, but we aren't burning witches anymore, are we?