Saturday, November 29, 2008

Words

If one drives along the Federal Highway, one cannot miss seeing the Selangor and Keadilan flags waving themselves proudly as one drives past Shah Alam. The Keadilan Congress is in session – November 29-30, 2008, that's why. I have been reading the many political blogs, more so, since the March 08 elections, and it always entertains me to read stuff that are either smart, stupid, or mundane (which is a polite word for those who are supposedly detached). Still it is noteworthy to mention that I have always found the Keadilan camp’s writings to be more sensible than the BN camp – people like Nik Nazmi and Elizabeth Wong, for example. Remember my earlier entry highlighting the stupidity of our politicians? Dare to venture a guess as to these politicians’ affiliations? I must hasten to add that I am not a member of any political party – so you cannot accuse me of being politically partisan.

But then again, stupidity is not monopolized by the politicians only. I cannot remember where, but I did recall being amused when I stumbled upon an instructive notice that tells of a label on a Superman Halloween costume that read: "Cape does not allow wearer to actually fly." Duh!
But certainly, there are stupid ads a-plenty. I remember radio stations gleefully torturing us with the lunatic and painful-to-the-ear Gintell i-So Shake to Shape commercial sometime this year. Also the aggravating and lame Chicken Rice Shop commercial and the annoying clucking. And on television, that awkward and awful Kolej SEGI commercial featuring Clement Hii. Now you know why they call it the idiot box. Enough said.

It is alright to be stupid – after all, we have the right to want to be different, the right to choose to be stupid. Who are we to judge others? But I digress. We also have ads that mislead, deceive, and lie. As you know, I teach Marketing – and one of my favorite examples of unabashed untruths that I love to cite is Newport’s “AIive with Pleasure” ad campaign. I mean if we know smoking kills, how can we discover pleasure and still stay alive? Double duh!

A 1999 Print Ad
And this intention to mislead, deceive and lie applies to politicians too. We have only to read the shenanigans and trickeries of the previous Selangor state government to understand why BN lost this state.

But again I digress. I had wanted to write about the power of the “word”, and how words can be used correctly and incorrectly to further one’s own personal agenda. We must exercise caution when we utter words because as much as they can inspire and motivate and prompt – there is also the negative side to them – when we speak, words can also incite and inflame and hurt.

Writer Ursula Le Guin did write: To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.

A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. (…) (A Few Words to a Young Writer)

By the way, the above from Ursula is an appropriate and fitting excerpt that I had spied on Elizabeth Wong’s blog (http://elizabethwong.wordpress.com/) on November 29, 2008, and which I had copied and I am now reproducing.

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