Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Oh, goody! Via Matthew Yglesias I find that my list of annoying political words has a new entry: OBVIOUST. Yup, it's another of those supposedly cute words whose meaning basically boils down to, "People who disagree with me don't merely disagree; they are actually delusional for not endorsing what's obvious." Oh, and it's an ugly word, to boot. What is it with making up new, ugly, and pretty-much-dumb words like "Obvioust" and "Idiotarian"? Doesn't our English language afford people enough words to express themselves?

And I see that the guy who coined "Obvioust" also trots out the canard that the United States is not a democracy. Now, he leaves off the other end of the formulation, but I assume he's one of those folks who, whenever America is characterized as a democracy, sagely leans forward and pronounces: "Ah, but America is a republic, not a democracy." Of course, you never hear these folks stepping up to correct President Bush whenever he talks about the need for "democracy" in Iraq ("Excuse me, Mr. President, but don't you think we should establish a republic in Iraq instead?"). This weirdo bit of wisdom is always irrelevant, because nobody actually uses the word "democracy" in the sense of, say, ancient Athenian democracy, anymore -- unless they happen to be historians actually talking about ancient Athens. Invoking my handy Oxford Pocket Dictionary, I find that the first meaning of "democracy" given is this: "Government by the whole population, usually through elected representatives". Saying "America's a republic, not a democracy" is like saying "Britney is a woman, not a human", and the only proper response is a loud, resounding "Duuuhhhh!"

The incongruity of a person who wants to adhere to a strict meaning of "democracy" also wanting to make up his very own ugly new word to describe his fairly run-of-the-mill political philosophy would be funny, if it weren't headshake-inducing.

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