We’ve just received a directive to reform our vocabulary in compliance with The Criminal Justice Reform Phrase Guide authored by The Opportunity Agenda, a progressive propaganda outfit describing itself as a “social justice communication lab” that “shapes compelling messages and narratives” to combat “well-financed communication efforts that support inequitable and unjust policies.”
The Guide sets out “Five Tips for Language That Changes Hearts and Minds,” #1 being “People, Not Labels.” Thus, we speak not of prisoners, but of “People who are currently incarcerated.” Ex-Cons should be called “People who have paid their debt to society.” Offenders are “People who have committed offenses.”
Burglars are “People who do not have the house keys,” and drug dealers are “People whose merchandise lacks FDA approval.” JUST KIDDING, sorry, sorry, sorry. But when it comes to describing People who have committed offenses, there’s not much you can teach a defense lawyer about euphemism.
Under Tip #2, one eschews the terms “racial disparities” and “gaps,” substituting “Obstacles to Equal Justice, Discriminatory School Discipline, Racial Profiling and Unconscious Bias resulting in unequal rates of arrest, incarceration, long sentences.” Which makes for a very long sentence indeed.
One does not call neighborhoods “dangerous,” but “Communities experiencing high levels of violence.”
Under Tip #5, the way to “Foster New Thinking and Innovative Approaches” is to replace “punish crime” with “Prevent Harm, Promote Community Safety. ” “Law and Order” becomes “Accountability, Rehabilitation, Equal Justice, Due Process.”
Not to be negative, but we have little hope for a t.v. series called “Accountability, Rehabilitation, Equal Justice, Due Process.”
Another example of the Opportunity Agenda’s shaping of compelling messages and narratives is a comic book featuring a heroine who transforms from “Ariel Black” to “Helvetika Bold” (misspelled typefaces, get it?).
The villain is “The Mindset,” a robot with a keyhole for a face, who declares, “Consumers! Behold as I ravage the Truth, play on your fears and defeat your hopes and aspirations using the most powerful weapon ever known. . . THE DOMINANT NARRATIVE!”
Beneath The Mindset are five disembodied heads trapped in ice cubes saying things like, “Lost your home? Well, sorry, buddy, some people just shouldn’t own houses,” and “Look, I love legal immigrants. . .it’s just those Hispanic ones I can’t stand!”
Comes now Ariel Black, a slender black woman with glasses, “who dares to speak counter to The Mindset,” and is duly reviled by the powerful organization “Media Corpse.” She stalks over to their headquarters to demand a retraction, passing through a community experiencing a high level of people whose heads are enclosed in ice cubes, and ends up in the old composing room where “the great underground newspapers of the past” are buried.
“Man, they were the real deal,” she exclaims, apparently never having seen an underground paper, with or without trigger warnings, of which this is a typical example:
Suddenly, KRZZAAAK!!! and four-eyes Ariel metamorphoses into the hefty Helvetika Bold. Her first act is to reshape the consumerist, Truth-ravaging messages of Times Square:
The ice cubes around people’s heads melt, as they say things like, “Makes me wonder why I am being paid less than my male co-workers?” and “Maybe another world is possible?”
“The fight for our common narrative is far from over,” warns Helvetika, brandishing her fists, Maoist poster style.
“Watch as our hero battles against NEW VILLAINS” in the next issue, advises the comic.
We feel transformed already.