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Part of the reason why our opponents tend to be better at using words to their advantage is that they spend big money on talented mercenary writers.  They know how to do verbal gymnastics to make effective advertisements, "public relations" statements and such.  They may also spend money trying out alternative wording on focus groups to test how effective they are.

As a result, they can come up with some incredibly misleading terms that help them influence susceptible parts of the public.  An excellent example has to do with a new law recently passed in Michigan.  Big business has now managed to get almost half of the 50 states to pass laws forbidding employees at companies to exercise rule of the majority - if the majority want a union, union membership applies to all.  These undemocratic laws have been given the fantastically false name "right to work".  And the corporate media and the major party politicians almost always use that totally dishonest name for it.

How inaccurate is the name "right to work"?

Those laws don't give every unemployed person a right to a job.  They don't say companies in that state can't lay-off all their workers and move operations overseas, because workers in that state have a right to work.  It doesn't make it illegal for bosses to lock-out union employees who want to work.  Those laws DO say it's illegal to tell a job applicant he can't have the job unless he joins a union - but the laws DON'T say a boss can't tell a job seeker he can only have the job if he joins the Rotary Club.  If a prospective employee can't be required to be a member of a union, is it also illegal for a company looking for a subcontractor to require the subcontractor to belong to the Chamber of Commerce?

What we need to learn isn't to use words as dishonestly as they do, but to choose our words carefully with an understanding of which are both honest and effective.  Perhaps, it's not "fighting fire with fire."  It may be fighting fire with water.  But when we don't use understanding and skill to choose words, it's like trying to fight fire with water in a bucket with holes in it.  There's nothing wrong with making sure your bucket doesn't have holes.

Originally posted to workingwords on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 08:57 AM PST.

Also republished by Logic and Rhetoric at Daily Kos.

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