Archive for June, 2005

And Now for Our Next Extraordinary Rendition…

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

No, Virginia, “extraordinary rendition” is not a description of how the Boston Symphony performed Beethoven’s Fourth.

As it turns out, “extraordinary rendition” is how the CIA describes in comforting legalspeak the shipping off a captured Muslim terrorist assassin to some ally for “aggressive” interrogation: the kind of questioning that highly sensitive congressmen far from the killing fields find shocking, shocking! Presumably the ally lives in a country that prefers survival to white-hat rules when dealing with people who think blowing up Mom and the kids and decapitating Christians and Jews is okey-dokey.

Lexicographical research shows that this official spinspeak derives quite legitimately from legal usage: to render is to hand over.

There may also be a close connection with culinary usage: to render is to melt fat over low heat.

Of Course, It Was Only a Misunderstanding

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

The latest spin on “apology” comes from Sen. Richard Durban (D-IL), #2 Minority Leader in the US Senate.

As most people in the world (friends and enemies) who can see lightning and hear thunder are aware by now, Durban compared how American troops are treating terrorist prisoners at Gitmo to Hitler’s Nazis, Stalin’s Communist gulag guards and Pol Pot’s murderers.

But after many days of delay and half-measures, Durban now recognizes that “some” people “misunderstood” his remarks. Therefore, Durban wants to offer his “apologies to those offended by his words.”

The word “some” would have you believe that really not too many people are “offended” and the word “misunderstood” would have you believe that even those “not too many” have a problem comprehending a plain-speaking fellow like the Senator. Both “some” and “misunderstood” are pure plastertalk.

In fact, a careful study of Durban’s spinspeak shows that he still is not saying that what he said is not true; that his allegation that American conduct in handling Muslim terrorists is in any way different from the conduct of the notorious bloody butchers of 30 to 40 million innocent civilians in Europe and Asia.

The Durban spin leaves the implication of possible heinous atrocities available to anyone who would like to believe it. But even so he wants you to know that no matter what they may be doing he “supports our troops.”

The Spin Comes Up Like Thunder Out of China ‘Cross the Bay*

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

Spinmeisters of the world take note: China really knows how to do it the easy way.

Why spend your life contorting and polluting language when all you have to do is label it “forbidden speech such as profanity” and essentially tell users to “move on,” the favorite advise of so many Washington spindocs?

As widely reported, that’s the message you receive when you enter words such as “democracy.” “freedom,” and “human rights” in Microsoft’s new Chinese online blog service.

Who could possibly object to a crackdown on the use of profanity?

Microsoft simply deadpans: “MSN abides by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates.” Apparently Chinese “laws, regulations and norms” are really tough when it comes to profane language.

* Thanks to Rudyard Kipling who knew all about playing “the Great Game.”