Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Liberty, literally

I got lectured recently (and not for the first time) by someone who believes the word "liberty" means the opposite of what I mean when I use the word- the negative opposite of what the word should mean.

His definition is the one which means "permission from authority". Such as the military meaning of the word "liberty".

This tendency for enemies of liberty, rights, anarchy and all the positive things in life to assign an opposite, negative meaning to a good word is just like the recent redefinition of the word "literally" to also  mean the opposite of "literally"- "figuratively".

Which is why I am pretty careful to constantly harp on what I mean when I use a word. I think it makes misunderstandings less likely, but some people want to misunderstand and argue. There's no stopping them if that's what they want, but they sure look silly.

Of course, this is the same person who believes in his magical incantations, so what do I expect?



  1. " When I use a word, " Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass”

    1. I suspect everyone does that. If Humpty had defined his words, I suppose it wouldn't have been a problem. At least I know that the Facebook commenter means the opposite of what I mean when we both use the word "liberty". That's good to know- even if I disagree with his chosen definition (and can think of better words to fulfill the same meaning).

  2. I often hear complaints from people because I always ask them to define the words they use. More often than not they are using words as you describe, in the exact opposite meaning any dictionary would define it as. The most misused word is Anarchy, for which almost all people learned from watching television and movies. But then I let them know that it is important so that we understand each other when we both use the same word.

    1. The main reason I like to post my own definitions is that in so many cases, widespread incorrect usage of words has made the meaning- including the dictionary definition- change completely. So if I have my own "dictionary" for words I think may be misunderstood, I can reduce misunderstandings. I hope.

  3. It is my observation, Kent, that the key to your little essay is to be found in terms "capture bonding" or "traumatic bonding" -- which have been (as the result of a 1973 incident in Sweden) amalgamated into a psychologically acceptable disease phraseology "Stockholm Syndrome".

    Of course conventional wisdom is that these are only applicable to the few -- perhaps the emotionally unstable amongst us; when in truth they apply to virtually all (except for the "intellectual" -- the "academe" -- who waltz around and do obeisance to those psychopaths who have been appointed by a power elite to "rule" the masses through a genius tactic called "democracy").

    And us. They do not apply to us. Which makes us such "loose cannons" among the elite.

    We are the odd-balls -- the ones who refuse to be enslaved into their language mode that promotes collectivism -- the absence of individuality. And their insanity.