Friday, April 01, 2005
I don't like Bush or his policies but I have to admit he's got some smart people working for him. Clever turns of phrase seem to be endlessly generated from his camp. Laws and policies with antonymic titles are a specialty: Clear Skies Initiative, Healthy Forests Initiative, etc. Here is a nice bit of deconstruction from Sean Gonsalves in To Err on the Side of Life?:
This week's phrase: "to err on the side of life."
It's a Bush-ism that frames an important and complex ethical debate in simplistic terms of black-and-white absolutes; a variation of the either-you're-with-us-or-against-us philosophy.
The phrase ingeniously plays off a commonly accepted bit of wisdom – "to err on the side of caution." Take out "caution" and insert the politically charged word "life" as in "pro-life," and the GOP base is energized while putting the evil "liberals" on the defensive.
Somebody should buy a Guinness for whomever in the Bush camp conceived the shibboleth. "Brilliant!"
To err on the side of life...
The implied message is clear: If Bush represents those who would rather "err on the side of life" (whatever that means), it puts anyone with other legitimate moral concerns in a defensive position, having to explain how they could possibly not want to "err on the side of life."
You'd have to be some kind of evil demon, like "the terrorists," to not want to "err on the side of life," right? After all, what kind of sicko would want to err on the side of death?