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Language



     The memo on "Languages: The decline of English", in which I demanded clarity, brought a varied response. Those favorable to Clinton who responded by damning Henry Hyde missed the point, which was language, not political partisanship. The complexity of the issue is admirably discussed in the Winter 01999 issue of Orbis by its editor Professor Walter A. McDougall, Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania. Entitled "The Place of Words in the Arena of Power," his editorial discusses the abuse of words, observed already by Aristotle, who said of the abuser of words: "If he be without virtue, he is a most unholy and savage being, and worse than all the others in the indulgence of lust and gluttony."
     Bill Van Orsdol and others have damned Henry Hyde as an abuser of words, but to say "That depends on what the meaning of is is" is also deliberate obfuscation. We musty demand clarity and transparency of political leaders, and folksy (i.e. bad) language is just another tool of obfuscation. This is not a party matter.

Ronald Hilton - 01/23/99


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