I spend a lot of time thinking about language and how it is understood by others. Life with a Parkinson’s patient who understands subtly less and less as the disease progresses encourages me to do this analysis. I began to pick apart some of the ” I don’t think anyone will read this but…” style postings that seem reasonable but somehow off the mark. Why did my ear tell me something was not quite right?
I thought about the emotion inherent in the writing. I thought about the emotion inherent in the listening. Facebook is and always will be an amusement for me. It is a distraction from my life with a parkie to see how other folks are doing, what they are doing and what is interesting to them. Often things are written on Facebook as though the writer believes they are surrounded by their Facebook friends, face to face in a pub or party room somewhere.
(The posted language is supplied in quotes. The speaker has adopted the tone of a knowledgeable mentor just grabbing a beer with the mentee and discussing the events of the day. As good ole boy, it is well done.)
“I did not write this, but I agree with what it says…” — the ellipsis at the end of this complete sentence is unnecessary. The speaker has left nothing unsaid. The reader is left with the incomprehensible ellipsis similar to a misplaced apostrophe. Like poetry one can see two guys, one younger, one older leaning on a bar somewhere without masks or social distancing.
“I do not like Joe Biden. I do not like Kamala Harris. I don’t have to, it’s my right as an American to not like someone.” — sadly the speaker is misinformed. There is no such American right. However, God has given everyone a free will and anyone may dislike anyone else. Christian as well as other religious thought entreats us to love one another and treat others as you would want to be treated. So, one could argue that if a person wishes to be disliked it is that person’s Christian duty to dislike the President and Vice President. Perhaps the writer does not like green eggs and ham, either.
“As of January 20, is Biden my president? Yes. Why? Because I am an American. I refuse to act like a child like the crying liberals who claimed Trump wasn’t their president for the last 4 years. I won’t be that hypocritical.” — sadly again the speaker misinforms. Mr. Biden won election to the office of President of the United States. By inference in the next sentences one gains the knowledge that the speaker did not cast a ballot in favor of Mr. Biden. The next sentences are hard to read. Structurally as well as grammatically, they are dissonant. The speaker self reports to be an American. And then in a run up to making his point, (In my minds eye, I can see the cowboy removing his toothpick and tilting his hat back and gesturing to emphasize.) the speaker uses the term hypocritical (a double entendre) as dismissive of other viewpoints. Hypocrisy is, of course, engaging in the same behavior that one is criticizing. Simply writing the word does not remove it from the conversation.
“Do I think Biden will be a good president? Nope, but do I wish for his failure? No. Why? Because I am an American and I don’t want to see America fail.” — Adding the answer to the speaker’s rhetorical question with the dismissive form of no, the mentor directs his attention toward the sadness and disappointment soon to be experienced by the nameless masses. The speaker equates the office of the President of the United States with the United States of America more generally. This is simply a false equation. The clue, gentle reader, is in the names of each. The United States of America is a union of fifty unique individual states with their own rules, laws and government. The President of the United States is the elected leader of the executive branch of that union of states. The speaker provides prescience that Mr. Biden will be lacking in goodness without providing the science of good. The initial premise lacks support and by shifting from the dismissive informal nope to the linguistically correct no, the speaker implies a standard above those with differing views.
“Do I wish death or ill will upon Biden just because I don’t like him? Nope. Again, I’m not like the heartless liberals who prayed for Trump’s death for the last 4 years just because they didn’t like him.” — the speaker continues to build on an unsupported previous idea. By repeating the previous paragraphs in different words, emphasis is attained. (One can see in one’s mind the mentee shaking his head in agreement. He reaches for his beer and takes a sip. Deep in thought, he begins to reply but the mentor is not finished.)
“Do I think the left is using Biden as a pawn? Most likely. It’s a baseless conspiracy, but like all conspiracies it has a degree of merit. I do believe making Harris president, the first female president, was the goal all along. It’s the only plausible reason why Harris would agree to be his running mate when she claimed he was a racist and a rapist during the Democratic primaries.” — the speaker continues with a different thought. He diverts from the abhorrent hypocrisy argument and adds an untruth in support the first conspiratorial premise that is introduced. The third sentence is pedantic in structure to introduce a true/false assertion with little basis upon which to place it. A case can be made that Ms. Harris is deemed to be the most capable out of a field of very capable candidates. It is the last clause that, although intended to support the conspiratorial premise introduced previously, merely destroys it by adding fallacious commentary. (Ms. Harris claimed no such thing, although the mistruth did repeat on social media memes.)
“Do I think the election was fair? No. Proof of fraud and lots of it. Valid votes not counted. Invalid votes counted. It’s all a disgrace. There is no integrity in our elections anymore.” — Another rhetorical supplied by the speaker is answered with a no but not with a nope to supply the reader with apparent authority of knowledge. However, evidently the evidence did not stand up in court. One procedural dispute was held. No fraud was found by independent sources. The final assertion insults all election workers unnecessarily but does not hold if there is no finding of fraudulent activity.
“Do I trust our government? Not a chance. I have never trusted our Government. We have a dark, seldom talked about, history of major infractions of our rights, liberties and even against our lives. You are a fool to rely on the government or think the government is working in your best interest.” — why is “Government ” capitalized? (I apologize for being distracted by the grammar) The speaker comes clean in this paragraph. It is the first honest paragraph in the entire diatribe. There have been many infractions and much suppression of rights and liberties albeit those of a most grievous nature have occurred on the state level.
“I fear for the next 4 years. I fear for our economy. I fear for small business owners. I fear for our healthcare. I fear for our rights. I fear for what’s to come after these next 4 years. Most of all I fear for what this country is turning into.” — An ellipsis would work well at the end of this and then perhaps a discussion of what the speaker believes that trepidation to be. Instead the listener is left with an ambiguity. This is a stylistic ploy to remove intelligent rebuttal.
“I hope and pray I am wrong, because I am an American patriot and I want America to succeed. I want all American citizens to succeed. It’s in our hands. Things only become the “new norm” if we allow it. Remember it’s “WE the people”. (a little flag icon is shown here in Facebook)“ — this summary instead of summarizing incites. At best these lines are diatribe, at worst duplicitous. Why is new norm in quotes? (sorry the grammar became distracting again) The full sentence that the writer begins to quote; ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’ was penned by Gouverneur Morris of New York who is a little known founding father and statesman but head of the committee of style.
We have a republican form of government. That is what – We the People – means. …Government by the people, for the people, of the people… Abraham Lincoln.