The Guardian • Issue #2047


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2047
Weasel Words heading

Warrior /ˈwriər/ (for)

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “warrior?” Conan the Barbarian? Boadacea, with cool pagan woad painted on her face slaying Roman centurions? Russell Crowe in his Gladiator outfit slaying other Romans? Whatever associations this elastic word has for you, odds are they’re good ones. That’s why this word is so elastic, and that’s why “warrior” is stretched to breaking point as a concept by applying it to a certain visiting  British transphobe and bigotry-monger. Is she a warrior for women’s rights, or an obnoxious extremist, asks an ABC piece on the subject, before giving us ample evidence that it’s the latter.

Politics /ˈpləˌihɪks/ (playing)

Teachers don’t go around accusing other teachers of “doing teaching”. Plumbers don’t sneer at other plumbers for practising plumbing, and football players don’t get mileage out of accusing other footballers of playing football, but politicians, whose jobs involve spending their every waking moment being political regularly try to score points by berating their fellow politicians for, umm, being political. This seems to be more prevalent on the right side of politics, possibly a hangover from the days when running the country was something only the already well-off could afford to do. Examples are myriad, the latest being Stuart Roberts, who has been in politics since 1991. Stuart thinks having various glaring conflicts of interest from his time as a dodgy Services Australia minister investigated by Bill Shorten would mean Shorten was “playing politics.” We think he’s misspelt “doing his job.”

Moderate /ˈmdərət/

Moderate is weirdly seen as a good thing in all circumstances, despite this not standing up to a moment’s thought. Really whether or not a person’s moderation is a good thing depends on what they’re being moderate about. Would a moderate Darth Vader have merely given a warning shot with the Death Star instead of destroying an entire planet with it? Or just destroyed the planet a little bit? Were there moderate Storm Troopers on the Death Star with him just keeping quiet about the whole “annihilate Alde-baran” thing?

We’re thinking of this because whenever the Liberal party suffers a defeat, as it has just done, the question of the liberal “moderates” comes up. Allegedly moderate and hence slightly nicer liberals such as Simon Birmingham, Christopher Pyne, and Josh Frydenberg were fine with the Liberal parties at Federal and Victorian levels vilifying thousands of Australians who happened to be Black during the “African Gangs” scare campaign. It turns out “moderate” can mean that you’re fine with racism, but don’t like to shout about it too much.

Resolve /riˈzlv/

Next time you’re wondering why the government can’t fix the housing crisis and raise aged care workers’ wages, but can afford to chuck a lazy $358 billion at a project which will make us less safe, and less independent, remember this word. We’re demonstrating our resolve. Resolve, meaning determination (but sounding more noble and military) is something you’ve just got to have. The Australian Financial Review thinks AUKUS is a “momentous test of this nation’s resolve.” It’s certainly momentous – we’ve never spent that much money on anything before.  As with “moderation,” resolve sounds so noble it’s meant to trick us into not looking too closely at what we’re resolved about.

Scrutiny /skrtəni/ (welcoming)

Scrutiny means someone having a close look at you. It’s in that class of weasel words used when someone who couldn’t lie straight in bed says “Let me be frank” in an interview. Welcoming scrutiny is something people do when they’re furious that they face any scrutiny. Someone should do a chart showing the inverse relationship between how often a bourgeois politician says they have nothing to hide and how long it takes their department to handle a Freedom of Information request. Andrew Forrest, the chief of Fortescue Metals, is furious with fellow billionaire Kerry Stokes, because Stokes’ media empire has started scrutinising his business deals just after he started competing with one of Stokes’ outfits. We don’t like to take sides in disputes between billionaires – as Stalin once said “they are both worse,” but we think both Stokes and Forrest could do with a lot less money, and a lot less of that scrutiny Forrest welcomes.

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