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  • Terry Wigmore

Clarity - Defining Terms To See What They Really Mean

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

The irony of the terms some people use to describe their ideological positions never ceases to amaze me. Some of the terms actually imply the opposite to what the terms actually say. It seems to me that a lesson in language might help clarify what I thought was the obvious: the terms we give ideological positions need to be clarified because, on their face (the literal meaning) they make no sense - or rather, they are nonsensical because they mean the opposite of what they seem.

Take the position which is labelled "Pro-Life". Sounds good? Who wouldn't agree that they would espouse a position using that term - PRO ( in-favour-of) Life (implied ALL life)? The trouble is that Pro-Life, as used by the fundamental and religious right in the US (and in Canada) really means only PRO-fetal life, or Pro-Birth. The real term that best describes this political and religious position is that these people are really ANTI-Women's Health, or Pro-Government Needs to Regulate Women's lives or Pro-SOME Life, or other terms to that effect. It is false advertising, in my opinion to use the term Pro-Life when people really mean only some life (fetal life).

On one hand I get the notion of trying to speak and advocate on behalf of the unborn, and to make sure their future has a chance to become a reality. On the other hand, especially when there are so many medical conditions that make the life of the fetus a clear and present danger to the health and life of the mother, that there should be no absolute in this discussion of rights. There must be a more prudent position other than striking down existing protections for women and arguing for absolute rights of the fetus, impacting the life and health of the mother's own life.

This seems to be to be completely absurd. Yet, the case of Texas AG Ken Paxton threatening to sue any doctor who performs an abortion, even though the fetus is not viable and imperils the very life of the mother, is a clear case of the absurdity of the absolute position of Pro-Fetal-Life. Where is the reasonable position that allows for exceptions? As with so much of the conservative positions on issues, there doesn't seem to be room for exceptions, and I wonder why some people feel safer in their absolutist bubbles of belief.

There are other ideological positions that seem equally absurd as the Pro-(some) Life position. Take the question of Hamas, Palestine and Israel. Here, "Pro-Palestine" really means "Pro-HAMAS" and this is hardly a reasonable or moderate position, just as shouting, "Intifada" or "Free From the River To The Sea" are really saying that you favour the genocide of Jews at the hands of Palestinian terrorists (how else do you plan to "free" all the land from the Jordan River to the Sea?) We've been down the Extermination of the Jews road before with Hitler. That historical footnote doesn't seem to add any clarity for the present left-leaning anti-colonial, free the oppressors rhetoric that seems to be found on campuses throughout the western liberal democratic world.

How did this happen, this topsy turvey flip flop where "free the oppressed" (ie. Palestine) really means "exterminate the Jews" and everyone seems ok with that? If we understand what the terms being used in the discussion of the Hamas/Israel conflict really mean, perhaps there could be helpful language employed. However, until we define the terms, people are likely to continue to confuse what they are really advocating.

The final oxymoronic term that bothers me is the Pro-Trump crowd. What does the ideological position "Pro-Trump" really mean? It seems to mean that, despite all his criminality, despite 2 impeachments, 4 trials with 91 charges, and despite being found liable for rape, and guilty of fraud, and despite Trump's own words about what he will do IF he wins in 2024, some people still support him.

Trump is clear, he will be a dictator and exact revenge on all who opposed him in his first term, appointing the incompetent but loyal followers of his MAGA agenda to all key positions in the executive, and legislative branches of government, and to all the 3-letter (DOJ, CIA, FBI) agencies of the government, not to mention the US Military. He will pull out of NATO, stop supporting Ukraine and Europe, and isolate America on the world stage. How is this position a reasonable position? Who would support that agenda? Those who do not comprehend that "Pro-Trump" really means "Anti-America" and "Anti-Democracy".

When we clearly define the terms that we use to describe ideological positions, it seems obvious that, to use the words of Apollo 13 astronauts: "Houston, we have a problem".

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