Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Scrubbing Bubbles

On my list of words that I would like to remove from everyday English is "brainwashed." Mainly because, at least in my experience, it's become a moral distinction, rather than a simple description. While no-one likes to be deceived, it's generally possible to describe someone as having been fooled by a person or a circumstance without really calling them out as being morally lacking. But the term "brainwashed" carried no such forbearance, being loaded with not only the idea that the person doing the persuasion is malevolent, but clearly so; being brainwashed by someone is usually a mark of a level of credulity that's outside the norm (even when the supposed brainwashing is said to have happened to large numbers of people).

Not that the term doesn't have its legitimate uses, but I often encounter it as a term of derision for those that the speaker has decided are too stupid (another term that's more a moral differentiator than description) to remain right-thinking in the face of obvious falsehood. And it's this lack of compassion or understanding for other people that rankles me. Yes, I realize that expecting compassion or understanding from people is my first mistake. But still, given their potential to improve the world we live in, removing some of the barriers to them, especially linguistic ones, would be nice.

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