Chinese Weblogs

I've been thinking about this New Science article on weblogs—The 'blog' revolution sweeps across China—and differing approaches to censorship. (Spotted on Joho the Blog: Bo ke.) This part about blogs being good at finding euphamisms is great:
But the net police found it much harder to purge discussion of Yitahutu's closure in the blogosphere. Bloggers are quick to find euphemisms so that they can continue conversation despite keyword filtering.
Keyword filtering and banning seems like a quaint way to control language. If Lakoff, Luntz, and Orwell have taught us anything it's that the power is in redefining words. I think about this whenever I hear the phrase activist judges. If you want to take power away from the judicial branch of the government, one way to do it is to make the word judge itself into a slur. (It worked with the word liberal.) And hey, why not take down the word activist while you're at it? That's so much more effective than trying to stop the use of the words judge or activist. People have to use these words to communicate, and by attaching negative meanings to them you force people to think negatively about the concepts these words represent. Philip K. Dick also nailed this idea:
The basic tool for manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
Chinese bloggers are practicing the new style of word-manipulation to route around an old style of control.

Comments

Kind of like how some people use the term Evangelical Christian?


Do people use Evangelical Christian in negative terms? I think the difference is that no judge would call themselves 'activists judges', they would say they are using the authority of their position. By contrast, people freely call themselves evangelicals. I don't think it has the negative connotation.
I think many Kerry supporters used the term as a negative right after the election, essentially blaming them for Kerry's loss as well as the passage of gay marriage bans to state constitutions. Blame is negative. Secularists often blame Christian beliefs for resistance to their agendas. I think they now use the term "Evangelical Christian" to represent Christians that oppose their views. If a Christian votes against something a progressive wants, they are now grouped into the "Evangelical" crowd, which is bad (except to the Evangelicals of course) because "Evangelicals" have radical beliefs.

You say this redefining of words happened to the word "liberal", it's the same thing. Conservatives grouped anyone who didn't believe what they believed in to the "liberal" crowd. People used to call themselves liberal, but now they call themselves progressive due to the negative connotations (although many liberals still consider themselves liberals). It didn't have a negative connotation to those that used it UNTIL the word was successfully redefined.
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