Sep. 4th, 2013

dormant_dragon: Sleepy Stan from 'All Yesterdays' (Default)
I've been thinking a bit about words today.

Don't worry, though - this isn't going to be a post about blogging. As I found out today whilst doing a spot of research, blogs about blogging are actually not very interesting to read. As anyone who knows me is aware, though, words are very important to me and from time to time, I like to engage in what I suppose, if it has its own word, might be called metawriting - producing words about words.

What got me thinking were some comments made by "hard-hitting journalist" (read conservative mouthpiece) Miranda Devine in the paper copy of today's Telegraph and read aloud to us by Dad, as he tends to do when he approves of someone's description of a politician. In this particular case, I was forced to disagree. According to Devine, Tony Abbott's "baddies versus baddies" description of the situation in Syria amounted to "a fair summation of a complex situation" and Abbott's "clear language" was a sign of "clear thinking." By contrast, Kevin Rudd's "verbosity" has journalists "tearing their hair out."

Um, what?

First of all, coming from a journalist, the notion of journalists getting frustrated about words strikes me as a sadly and ironically accurate reflection of the state of contemporary journalism. Certainly it's getting harder to find news publications that look like they've been subjected to the glance of an editorial eye. Worse than that, though, anyone who thinks that Abbott's comments are indicative of "clear thinking" is obviously unaware of the important difference between simple and simplistic. As I wrote in this blog recently, I'm a big fan of plain speaking, openness and honesty; but I am adamantly not a fan of the practice of "dumbing down" information - it means the speaker either thinks his audience won't understand the situation or - worse in a potential national leader - doesn't really understand it himself.

It seems that in the opinion of the unabashedly right-wing media commentators, in order to be counted amongst the "ordinary Australians" to whom Abbott supposedly appeals, one must demonstrate an inability to cope with sophisticated language. Well, by those lights, I am happy to say, I am very much not an "ordinary Australian" and nor are most of my friends and acquaintance - curiously enough, they won't be voting Liberal either, come election day.

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dormant_dragon: Sleepy Stan from 'All Yesterdays' (Default)
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