Just say no to, um, controlled substances

In our still-politically-correct values-neutral society where we’re ever so afraid of saying something that someone, anyone, might even just possibly get offended at, could we at least stop using the silly, silly term controlled substances?

Could we please just say drugs? Would that be OK?

George Orwell must be turning in his grave these days. As he said in Politics and the English Language more than 50 years ago:

In one of the most famous sections of the essay, Orwell quotes from the King James Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 9, verse 11:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

He translates this verse into “modern” English like this:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

and another favorite of mine …

Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, “I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so.” Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigours which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

(This mini-rant was inspired by some research I’m doing into educational technology, including online lessons and courses … and the frequent use of the neological “controlled substances” that I’m seeing in the health sections of so many sites.)

I mean, how much more euphemistic can you get?

Controlled means illegal. Substance … has there ever been a more meaningless, vanilla, empty word than substance … means drug.

I love education.

So busy teaching us to call spades implements for the purpose of excavation.

[tags] drugs, controlled substances, george orwell, PC, political correctness, jargon, john koetsier [/tags]

 


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