Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Adjective is Not a Noun

Is it just me or is there anyone else who is getting sick and tired of the media, and those that they quote, getting their grammar all wrong? Like twisting and turning the words of Nancy Pelosi by completely altering the meaning of her words.

By turning an adjective into a noun.

English grammar is a precise science. A simple act like switching tense or using a noun as a verb, or turning an adjective into a noun has the unfortunate effect of transmitting misinformation.

As the press is doing today.

But maybe they are not the ones to blame. They are, after all, merely quoting neoconservative talking heads and politicians.

By changing an adjective into a noun.

Yesterday, in an op-ed piece Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer made the perfectly valid point that “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.”

Isn’t that true? Isn’t it true that America was founded on democratic principles that depend on public discourse and the free exchange of ideas (discourse that is at times heated, yes, but an actual exchange)? Isn’t it true that a person who deliberately attempts to disrupt a democratic process like a town hall is nothing more than a mindless thug whose aim is to deny others of the right of free speech that they themselves claim as theirs and theirs alone? Is that an American trait?

No, Hoyer and Pelosi are perfectly correct in identifying this behavior as “Un-American.”

A person can have un-American behavior, but that doesn’t make them, themselves, Un-American. But that is precisely what is being touted in the media, that Pelosi and Hoyer are saying that these people are un-American.

From CBS:

“Calling someone "un-American" is political argument's equivalent of heavy artillery, if not a battlefield nuke: it's designed to put your opponents on the defensive, forcing them to rebut the nearly-unrebuttable, and verges on questioning their patriotism.”

Let’s be clear, labeling someone’s behavior as “un-American” is not calling someone “un-American.”

You can be committing the act without being the act.

That’s just stupid.

It’s as stupid as seeing someone doctoring a wound, and calling them a doctor.


Anonymous said...

Gee, I guess this means that you agree it was acceptable to argue that opposing US military policy for the last eight years was unAmerican -- and that when folks on the right said it, they were not calling the opponents of the war unAmerican.

Hal said...

It is American as all get-out to oppose a war of choice. I opposed the Vietnam War, a war of choice, as I opposed the Iraq War, another war of choice.

The Un-American behavior is to go along with single-minded and possibly selfish reasons to commit our troops to harm's way.