The Guardian • Issue #2094

WEASEL WORDS

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2094
Weasel Words heading

Mainstream

Both weaselly and bullying, ‘mainstream’ is used by ‘Advance,’  a far-right lobby group that has never won an election, or fielded candidates, but which mysteriously knows that most Australians want to do nothing about the climate emergency, and that it’s bad if Woolies doesn’t sell Anzac-themed biscuits. Advance represents the mainstream, and you’re in it as long as you share their prejudices.

Activist

Being Governor General is overall a sweet gig; nice house, servants, no elections to worry about, and people pretending that you’re important. The latest GG has been into the sort of liberal feminism that thinks it’s all about getting women on company boards. Since it’s just not the done thing to openly say that you don’t like to see women getting nice jobs, assorted right-wingers with time on their hands are instead saying that the new Governor General is an ‘activist,’ and that that’s a bad thing to be, unless you’re lobbying for things they’re into.

Thin

This is not an exact term, but like ‘heavy’ and ‘large’ most of us know ‘thin’ when we see it. ‘Thin’ is not the first word that comes to mind when the average punter thinks about Coles and Woolworths profits. Coles’ last reported profit was $643 million, while Woolies was $907 million. That’s profit margins of 26.1 per cent and 30.7 per cent respectively. The voice of business, the Australian Financial Review calls those profit margins ‘thin,’ but perhaps they just can’t spell ‘obscene.’

Lifestyle choice

University of Melbourne Professor of American Politics, Timothy J Lynch has recently described the US attitude to gun ownership and use, as a ‘lifestyle choice’. That country has had seven mass shootings in one day, and over 4000 gun deaths so far this year. No disrespect to Professor Lynch, but it looks more like a deathstyle choice to us.

Professional

Strictly speaking, this word means that you’re paid to do something instead of doing it for fun or as a favour to friends. The term also suggests that you’re good at a job, and do it in a competent and dispassionate manner.

IDF Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari describes the Israeli Defence Force as ‘a professional military committed to international law’ – which is quite the weaselly mouthful. He’s right that the IDF is a military, and that they’re professional in the sense of being paid, which must be a huge comfort to their victims. We know what they’re committed to, and it’s not international law.

Tragedy

There’s a lot of ‘passive voice’ in the Australian media when it comes to the ongoing genocide which the IDF are perpetrating. The ABC’s Laura Tingle has had a go, talking about Israel’s “tolerance of a tragedy that has seen tens of thousands of civilians killed since October 7.” Who killed them, Laura?

Accountability

This is a great weasel word because sounds like action, but is really vague. Accountability mean anything from summary execution to pursed lips, a furrowed brow and a sigh. Anthony Albanese is asking for accountability for the IDF’s recent killing of aid workers, but won’t say what that should involve, so he’s more on the furrowed brow and sigh end of the spectrum.

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