THE NEWSDESK: I'm tired of the droning sound of hypocrisy

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South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

ISN'T it amazing that in an age when images are everywhere, and the visual means everything, how much power words still have?

What started me down this track was reading various obituaries to the Welsh poet, author and journalist Nigel Jenkins, who died last week, and the name he gave to Viscount Tonypandy, the former House of Commons Speaker George Thomas, in his searingly satirical 1997 eulogy.

The Lord of Lickspit.

Four powerful words dripping with frustration and anger which caused a storm and propelled Jenkins onto The Guardian's front page.

Forever associated with Viscount Tonypandy once they issued from Jenkins' pen - more on Jenkins' loss in the second part to this column.

And then, I read that the leading manufacturer of military drones, the California-based company General Atomics, recently complained to the UK's Defence Select Committee that the word drone has pejorative connotations.

This from a company, which called its two main models the Predator and the Reaper.

Note the lack of the Terminator. One for 2015?

Drone. The word has the cachet of the worker bee, the mindless killer.

Heaven forfend that things which bring death by remote control from the skies should have that cachet.

Instead, some are extolling the use of "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle" - UAV. Or "Unmanned Aerial System" UAS. Or "Remotely Piloted Aircraft", RPA. How those in the defence sector love their three-letter acronyms.

Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.

I am glad to see Barack Obama still using the D-word in a recent speech.

I would like it even better if we all referred to these drones by another name. Killing machines.

That seems to suit far better than UAV. Let's not pretend these things are flying microwaves or tablets by another name.

Then, hot on the heels of that, came another example of rank linguistic hypocrisy.

From the lips of Education Secretary Michael Gove.

He was at pains to deny there was a political agenda behind the removal of Labour's Baroness Morgan as the head of English education watchdog, Ofsted, at the end of her three-year term.

He said she had done a "fantastic" job.

And then he told the BBC's Andrew Marr this: "From time to time you need to refresh the person in charge... to bring fresh perspective".

Ah, yes, I am sure we all read in last week's Argus about the 3,400 private sector jobs in Newport which were "refreshed" in 2011 and 2012.

To bring the fresh perspective of the local job centre.

Every day, when I wake up and hear Michael Gove say things like this on television, I thank the Lord I'm Welsh.

This is language as a chemical cosh, designed to stupefy us into submission, to suck any questions into a grey morass of a lack of meaning.

She was removed. Her "services are no longer required". She was axed.

If you are going to carry out the actions, have the backbone to call them by their names, not slink about in the spaces between words trying to justify yourself.

Broadcasters either let politicians get away with it, or their presenters are made to come over as churlish bullies who are picking at every word.

Newspapers must continue to be the place where these mealy-mouthed words are challenged.

Because words do still matter, whether you read them in newsprint or online or on Twitter. If they did not, why do people in power try to use them to soften their actions?

Because names are important. They tell us everything about those who use them.

Because the most powerful force in the world is a question which will simply not go away.

Why?

THIS week's tributes to Mumbles-based Nigel Jenkins have been heartfelt.

Former Wales Book of the Year Award winner Jenkins, who died after battling cancer aged 64, was a giant of the Welsh literary world.

His honours are too numerous to list here.

Born on a Gower farm, his life led him to journalism, working in a circus in the USA, lecturing at Trinity College, Carmarthen, and Swansea University while writing poetry, travelogues, drama, biography and press articles, as well as editing and working for the BBC.

Famed for his baritone speaking voice, he performed with various groups including the blues and poetry bands The Salubrious Rhythm Company, Y Bechgyn Drwg, Llaeth Mwnci Madog / Madog’s Moonshine, Blue Gwales and The Idrisiaid.

A Welsh Academy fellow, great supporter of devolution, and director of Swansea University’s creative writing programme, what a shame it would be if Jenkins was only remembered by most people for those four words on Viscount Tonypandy.

There are so many more words he wrote we should all discover.

Literature Wales Management Board Chairman Damian Walford Davies said: "He got us to think of Wales whole; his co-editorship of the classy, colossal Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales is a monument to that. Nigel was a sensitive mediator between the cultures and languages of Wales and the world."

And Literature Wales CEO Lleucu Siencyn said: "Anyone who knew Nigel will remember his humour, humility and genuineness alongside his legacy - a varied and consistently outstanding body of work".

Sadly, there will be no more new words from Jenkins. We must treasure what we have.

Comments (11)

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6:30pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Dai Rear says...

"ISN'T it amazing that in an age when images are everywhere, and the visual means everything, how much power words still have? "
It is, Maria, or rather I suppose it's taken a long time for us to be aware of what the far left grasped easily in 1989, that words, and those manufactured by them in particular, all the "-isms" and "-phobias" are very important indeed. Now 11 year olds mouth their horrible manufactured propaganda words.
But another Blair, George Orwell , saw it a long time ago. And an even wiser person observed that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Sadly, we've let our guard slip.
"ISN'T it amazing that in an age when images are everywhere, and the visual means everything, how much power words still have? " It is, Maria, or rather I suppose it's taken a long time for us to be aware of what the far left grasped easily in 1989, that words, and those manufactured by them in particular, all the "-isms" and "-phobias" are very important indeed. Now 11 year olds mouth their horrible manufactured propaganda words. But another Blair, George Orwell , saw it a long time ago. And an even wiser person observed that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Sadly, we've let our guard slip. Dai Rear
  • Score: -8

7:24pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Dickieboy says...

There say ignorance is bliss and if that is in fact true Maria you must be in a permanent state of ecstasy !
QUOTE :-

" Drone. The word has the cachet of the worker bee, the mindless killer."

The "Drone" with regard to the humble bee whether it be a Honey bee or Bumble bee is the male of the species and as such has no sting, it's sole purpose in life is to fertilise a Queen bee, though they do gather some nectar and pollen, further more they are completely and utterly defenceless and harmless. The Worker bee does have a sting which is used as a last resort to defend NOT attack and certainly isn't mindless it is capable of fantastic feats of navigation and communication and prodigious amounts of work.

If you would like to compare a Drone UAV to something mindless why not try something closer to home like a journalist incapable of original or accurate thought, you won't have to look too far.
There say ignorance is bliss and if that is in fact true Maria you must be in a permanent state of ecstasy ! QUOTE :- " Drone. The word has the cachet of the worker bee, the mindless killer." The "Drone" with regard to the humble bee whether it be a Honey bee or Bumble bee is the male of the species and as such has no sting, it's sole purpose in life is to fertilise a Queen bee, though they do gather some nectar and pollen, further more they are completely and utterly defenceless and harmless. The Worker bee does have a sting which is used as a last resort to defend NOT attack and certainly isn't mindless it is capable of fantastic feats of navigation and communication and prodigious amounts of work. If you would like to compare a Drone UAV to something mindless why not try something closer to home like a journalist incapable of original or accurate thought, you won't have to look too far. Dickieboy
  • Score: 0

8:01pm Sun 2 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Dai Rear wrote:
"ISN'T it amazing that in an age when images are everywhere, and the visual means everything, how much power words still have? "
It is, Maria, or rather I suppose it's taken a long time for us to be aware of what the far left grasped easily in 1989, that words, and those manufactured by them in particular, all the "-isms" and "-phobias" are very important indeed. Now 11 year olds mouth their horrible manufactured propaganda words.
But another Blair, George Orwell , saw it a long time ago. And an even wiser person observed that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Sadly, we've let our guard slip.
Yawn
[quote][p][bold]Dai Rear[/bold] wrote: "ISN'T it amazing that in an age when images are everywhere, and the visual means everything, how much power words still have? " It is, Maria, or rather I suppose it's taken a long time for us to be aware of what the far left grasped easily in 1989, that words, and those manufactured by them in particular, all the "-isms" and "-phobias" are very important indeed. Now 11 year olds mouth their horrible manufactured propaganda words. But another Blair, George Orwell , saw it a long time ago. And an even wiser person observed that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Sadly, we've let our guard slip.[/p][/quote]Yawn GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 1

8:02pm Sun 2 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Dickieboy wrote:
There say ignorance is bliss and if that is in fact true Maria you must be in a permanent state of ecstasy !
QUOTE :-

" Drone. The word has the cachet of the worker bee, the mindless killer."

The "Drone" with regard to the humble bee whether it be a Honey bee or Bumble bee is the male of the species and as such has no sting, it's sole purpose in life is to fertilise a Queen bee, though they do gather some nectar and pollen, further more they are completely and utterly defenceless and harmless. The Worker bee does have a sting which is used as a last resort to defend NOT attack and certainly isn't mindless it is capable of fantastic feats of navigation and communication and prodigious amounts of work.

If you would like to compare a Drone UAV to something mindless why not try something closer to home like a journalist incapable of original or accurate thought, you won't have to look too far.
Double yawn
[quote][p][bold]Dickieboy[/bold] wrote: There say ignorance is bliss and if that is in fact true Maria you must be in a permanent state of ecstasy ! QUOTE :- " Drone. The word has the cachet of the worker bee, the mindless killer." The "Drone" with regard to the humble bee whether it be a Honey bee or Bumble bee is the male of the species and as such has no sting, it's sole purpose in life is to fertilise a Queen bee, though they do gather some nectar and pollen, further more they are completely and utterly defenceless and harmless. The Worker bee does have a sting which is used as a last resort to defend NOT attack and certainly isn't mindless it is capable of fantastic feats of navigation and communication and prodigious amounts of work. If you would like to compare a Drone UAV to something mindless why not try something closer to home like a journalist incapable of original or accurate thought, you won't have to look too far.[/p][/quote]Double yawn GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 0

8:02pm Sun 2 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Wait - maybe I got those the wrong way around....

Oh who cares, they're both tediously boring.

Good article Maria
Wait - maybe I got those the wrong way around.... Oh who cares, they're both tediously boring. Good article Maria GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: -6

10:17pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Llanmartinangel says...

'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.'

Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either.
'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.' Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 2

12:35am Mon 3 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Llanmartinangel wrote:
'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.'

Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either.
Interesting little piece of trivia - did you know that there's no official definition of 'terrorist' at the UN? They had so much trouble trying to find something that the members of the security council wouldn't veto, that they decided not to bother.
[quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: 'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.' Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either.[/p][/quote]Interesting little piece of trivia - did you know that there's no official definition of 'terrorist' at the UN? They had so much trouble trying to find something that the members of the security council wouldn't veto, that they decided not to bother. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 0

1:38am Mon 3 Feb 14

DavidMclean says...

Llanmartinangel wrote:
'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.'

Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either.
It's certainly not new. From the guy who presses the red button to launch the nuke, to the Lancaster bomber flicking the switch to drop the payload, to the terrorist planting the bomb, to the 'pilot' of the drone sitting at a computer monitor with a coffee, there is nothing new about releasing death remotely. It seems that humans killing each other is an inherent trait. No wonder aliens avoid us. Who in their right mind would set foot on a planet with a dominant species that puts so much effort into violently killing its own kind, much to the glee of those other humans watching?
[quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: 'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.' Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either.[/p][/quote]It's certainly not new. From the guy who presses the red button to launch the nuke, to the Lancaster bomber flicking the switch to drop the payload, to the terrorist planting the bomb, to the 'pilot' of the drone sitting at a computer monitor with a coffee, there is nothing new about releasing death remotely. It seems that humans killing each other is an inherent trait. No wonder aliens avoid us. Who in their right mind would set foot on a planet with a dominant species that puts so much effort into violently killing its own kind, much to the glee of those other humans watching? DavidMclean
  • Score: -1

2:47am Mon 3 Feb 14

eezageeza says...

DavidMclean says...No wonder aliens avoid us. Who in their right mind would set foot on a planet with a dominant species that puts so much effort into violently killing its own kind, much to the glee of those other humans watching?

They 'aint stupid you know those aliens, there they are just sitting back waiting until we wipe most of each other out before appearing and mopping up the last few survivors,ya don't get to be intergalactic masters of the universe unless you have risen above kicking **** outa some poor technologically inferior race ...until the time is right of course :D
DavidMclean says...No wonder aliens avoid us. Who in their right mind would set foot on a planet with a dominant species that puts so much effort into violently killing its own kind, much to the glee of those other humans watching? They 'aint stupid you know those aliens, there they are just sitting back waiting until we wipe most of each other out before appearing and mopping up the last few survivors,ya don't get to be intergalactic masters of the universe unless you have risen above kicking **** outa some poor technologically inferior race ...until the time is right of course :D eezageeza
  • Score: 2

7:15am Mon 3 Feb 14

Llanmartinangel says...

GardenVarietyMushroo
m
wrote:
Llanmartinangel wrote:
'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.'

Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either.
Interesting little piece of trivia - did you know that there's no official definition of 'terrorist' at the UN? They had so much trouble trying to find something that the members of the security council wouldn't veto, that they decided not to bother.
We do have an ambivalent relationship with terrorists it's true. The attorney general of NI thinks we should no longer pursue those who tortured, maimed, murdered and blew up innocent people for decades, whilst PC Plod on the mainland is busy rounding up people who may have shoved their hand up a skirt in the 1960s. Funny old world.
[quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: 'Any of the three would be a nicely sanitised version of what these things are. A version which omits blood, death, pain, grief, and the fact someone, somewhere is inflicting it. Without ever having to come face-to-face with the consequences of their actions.' Not a new phenomenon is it? Most terrorist bombers who plant devices never come face-to-face with what they do either.[/p][/quote]Interesting little piece of trivia - did you know that there's no official definition of 'terrorist' at the UN? They had so much trouble trying to find something that the members of the security council wouldn't veto, that they decided not to bother.[/p][/quote]We do have an ambivalent relationship with terrorists it's true. The attorney general of NI thinks we should no longer pursue those who tortured, maimed, murdered and blew up innocent people for decades, whilst PC Plod on the mainland is busy rounding up people who may have shoved their hand up a skirt in the 1960s. Funny old world. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 4

11:12am Mon 3 Feb 14

davidcp says...

Yes, Maria. If your country's soldiers must fight, they must risk their lives. That's fair.
Now you go and try it - just once - and see how you feel.

BTW David Mclean = Lancaster crews may have been up in the sky dropping bombs but their death rates suggest they weren't doing it from a place of safety, d**head, even if your other examples have (misguided) merit.
Yes, Maria. If your country's soldiers must fight, they must risk their lives. That's fair. Now you go and try it - just once - and see how you feel. BTW David Mclean = Lancaster crews may have been up in the sky dropping bombs but their death rates suggest they weren't doing it from a place of safety, d**head, even if your other examples have (misguided) merit. davidcp
  • Score: -2

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