In some areas of our lives, it has become expected that words will change definitions. The most obvious area is in computers. We use words like “mouse”, “monitor”, “network”, “protocol”, and many others, all of which used to have very different meanings prior to the information age. Even the word “computer” used to refer to a person who crunched numbers for a living, not the tool he used to do it.
One thing that irritates me to no end, however, is when words get redefined to fit someone’s disingenuous purposes. The only reason to redefine words when you’re communicating a cause or belief (without first giving a clear explanation of your redefinition) is to trick people into a false understanding of what you’re saying.
Gay Rights – The word “gay” used to mean happy. It was redefined by the homosexual community in an effort turn the public image to something positive. The word “rights” in this slogan is meant to communicate that somehow their rights are being trampled (the ‘rights’ part of gay rights is the topic for another blog post).
Rainbow – (not the word, but the meaning behind the thing itself.) A rainbow is an “arc of spectral colors, that appears in the sky opposite the sun as a result of the refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain or mist” according to the dictionary. The symbolism behind it, however, has a very Christian meaning. The rainbow was God’s promise to all of mankind that he would never again destroy the world with a flood. The homosexual community has abducted it, and it’s now a symbol of something very non-Christian; it’s a symbol used to celebrate (the new definition of “tolerate”) homosexuality.
Tolerance – This one, along with “gay” was redefined quite a while ago. It used to be that tolerating something meant that you patiently put up with it even though you don’t agree with it or like it. You’d peacefully coexist with it, but you would never vote in favor of it. Now, if you’re not in hearty agreement with it—if you don’t celebrate its existence—you’re labeled as intolerant and called a bigot.
Bigot – The redefinition of this word is closely related to the redefinition of “tolerance”. It’s not that this word has been redefined, so much, but rather that its use has been greatly expanded to accommodate the new definition of other politically motivated words, like “tolerance”. To be a bigot means to be an intolerant person. Based on the redefinition of “tolerance”, you can see how the definition of “bigot” is a bit fuzzier than it used to be.
Unicorn – As seen in this video, the original definition of a unicorn referred to a creature that actually existed and still exists today. The reason this one is important is that Atheists and others who seek to discredit Christianity are jumping on the KJV (and all of Christendom) for referring to the unicorn as a real creature. Before it was redefined, a unicorn referred to a one-horned rhinoceros.
Human – The definition of this word changes so frequently, it’s almost lost all meaning. These changes are presented quietly and without warning or explanation (like most redefinitions), and almost always to justify some atrocity on a chosen segment of humanity. The obvious examples are the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade claiming that those of African descent were not human, the Third Reich claiming that Jews (and others of their choosing) were not human, and now the abortion industry claiming that the unborn (and even the recently born) are not human.
Liberal – America is an example of a Liberal Democracy. The term “liberal” means (or meant) that the government would have a hands-off approach to economic and social policy. The federal government was to provide the framework for a free environment where the people could conduct themselves as they chose as long as they didn’t infringe on the same rights of others. Now, however, liberalism takes on a very different definition. It’s been redefined as “a belief in paternalistic government and trading individual liberty for state-sponsored security.” Another word for that is socialism.
Rights – This is a word that hasn’t been redefined as much as it has been misapplied. A right is something that is due a person by just claim, legal guarantees, moral principles, etc. The vast majority of human rights are what’s been called “negative rights.” “Positive rights” are rights that you can claim and that someone must do for you. Negative rights are your rights to be left alone. Most of the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution are negative rights. It’s the right to not be hindered. You have the right to free speech, to not be forced to house a soldier, and to not have your possessions seized without probable cause, for example. Positive rights are things like the right to healthcare. If you have a right to healthcare, that means that someone has to be obligated to give it to you without payment of any kind (if payment is required, then it’s something you buy; it’s not a right). If the healthcare provider requires payment, that would be a violation of your rights. You can easily see how this is a problem. The positive right to healthcare infringes upon the negative right of the doctor to be left alone.
There are many more such disingenuous word redefinitions. I truly feel that we should all seek to be very careful how we use words and how we defend our views. If we’re required to trick people into believing our point of view, then perhaps that point of view is not really defensible and should be reexamined.