Welcome to the World of Newspeak – by Janet Levy – American Thinker
October 22, 2009
Welcome to the World of Newspeak
By Janet Levy
In George Orwell’s novel, “1984,” Newspeak refers to language designed by a totalitarian regime to control thought and make subversive speech impossible. It destroyed words with prohibited meanings so that heretical thoughts couldn’t be expressed. A form of censorship, Newspeak employed euphemisms and words deliberately opposite the reality they described. For example, “joycamp” was the term assigned to forced-labor camps. The “Ministry of Truth” was in actuality an organ of disinformation.
Newspeak was created to institute thought control and thereby exert political control through restrictive changes to the language. The term is now commonly used to refer to attempts to obscure the truth, especially in political rhetoric which abounds with instances of it. For example, President Obama’s administration has officially replaced “terrorism” with the phrase “man-caused disasters.” Terrorist activity, such as suicide bombings perpetuated by Al Qaeda and other Islamic groups, is now benignly called “anti-Islamic acts.” In abortion debates, the taking of a human life is reframed as a “woman’s right to choose.”
Newspeak usage also crops up in legislation with titles that are the exact opposite of a bill’s intent. With ever-shortening American attention spans and media’s increasing focus on entertainment news, Newspeak is not simply a fictional danger but a real threat to the practice of democracy in America. Some recent examples include: “The Respect for Marriage Act,” “The Employee Free Choice Act,” “Internet Freedom Preservation Act,” “American Clean Energy and Security Act” and “America’s Healthy Future Act.” A quick examination of each reveals Newspeak at work.