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Modern doublethink?
November 12, 2012 1:03 PM   Subscribe

What are some actual (non-fictional) modern, Orwellian / dystopian phrases?

I'm looking for things like 'national sacrifice zone' and 'disposition matrix.'

Links to uses are appreciated.
posted by the man of twists and turns to Society & Culture (58 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Known unknowns, enhanced interrogation
posted by unixrat at 1:05 PM on November 12, 2012


'Free speech zone'
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:06 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Free Speech Zone is pretty Orwellian to me (from the perspective of the United States, which used to be an entire "Free Speech Zone").
posted by antonymous at 1:08 PM on November 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Illegal enemy combatant.
posted by griphus at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why we say "IED" for "improvised explosive device" when "bomb" or "home-made bomb" appears to have the same meaning.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:14 PM on November 12, 2012


known unknowns

Rumsfeld referencing the Johari window
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:15 PM on November 12, 2012


Undocumented worker
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:15 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Investment when they mean tax
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:17 PM on November 12, 2012


Homicide Bomber

Anyone remember the week they were test-driving that clunker? Good times.
posted by Aquaman at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


See something, say something
The Patriot Act
posted by nickrussell at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2012


"Homeland security" is a deeply unsettling phrase.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


patriot act
posted by trip and a half at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2012


Modern military euphemisms are going to be a gold mine:

Special renditions: kidnapping
Sleep management: sleep deprivation
Stress position: rather stressful indeed
Pre-emptive strike: unilateral attack
Soft target: people
Incursion: invasion
Self-injurious behavior incidents: suicide attempts by Gitmo prisoners
Disposition Matrix: the top SECRIT Drones Kill List
posted by zenon at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Going Postal
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2012


Here's a literal one: in 1964, the United Kingdom abolished the War Office and replaced it with the Ministry of Defence.
posted by Jehan at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2012


"warfighter"
posted by enn at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2012


"if you see something, say something"

"we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"

"The Homeland Security Advisory code is currently: Orange"

"climate change" (in lieu of global warming)
posted by bl1nk at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2012


I'm not sure why we say "IED" for "improvised explosive device" when "bomb" or "home-made bomb" appears to have the same meaning.

IEDs (which are sometimes called "roadside bombs") are a subset of the general "bomb" category that share certain characteristics, so they're classified separately. This is less doublespeak and more technical jargon.
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


One that happened during Orwell's lifetime was the renaming of the United States Department of War to the "Department of Defense" in 1947.

I was kind of surprised to see one right here on MeFi, when someone characterized Tarek Mehanna's crime as being affiliated with an "enemy of the government." (Here, in the last paragraph.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:23 PM on November 12, 2012


Defined Benefit plans are pensions that are guaranteed to pay out a certain amount. Defined Contribution plans are things like IRA or 401(k) accounts with different tax treatments that don't guarantee shit.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:24 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


warfighter

Even better, the nebulous 'operator.'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:25 PM on November 12, 2012


Referenced by zenon above, but I prefer extraordinary rendition.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Steve Pinkers Euphemism Treadmill (pdf)
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Food insecurity" has replaced famine in NGO-land
posted by theodolite at 1:30 PM on November 12, 2012


Collateral Damage.
posted by googly at 1:30 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some of these are not as Orwellian as the posters think. Defined Contribution plans are plans in which the contributions to the plan, rather than the benefits the plan pays our, are specified in the contract. My understanding is that "climate change" is used in place of "global warming" because while the globe is getting warmer overall and on average, specific places may be no warmer or indeed cooler. Even the phrase unlawful enemy combatant just means that the combatant is not fighting for a nation or body that is a signatory to the laws of war set out by the international community.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:30 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"?

According to The Huffington Post: "In recent weeks, we've learned about new legislation that will give ministers (and no doubt many others) the power to scrutinise our electronic communication - emails, texts, web visits and phone calls. The covering slogan is compellingly simple: if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."
posted by 4bulafia at 1:32 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Admiral Haddock has the correct/more common wording - I misremembered it.
posted by zenon at 1:33 PM on November 12, 2012


Total Information Awareness.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:34 PM on November 12, 2012


Defined Contribution plans are plans in which the contributions to the plan, rather than the benefits the plan pays our, are specified in the contract.

The point is that "defined-benefit pension" redefines what used to be called a "pension" as simply one specific kind of pension, and (falsely) implies a rough equivalency between that that kind of pension and another supposed kind of pension, the "defined-contribution pension," which is not a pension at all by the old, or any reasonable, meaning.
posted by enn at 1:34 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


'Unpublishing'.
posted by logicpunk at 1:39 PM on November 12, 2012


"Food insecurity" has replaced famine in NGO-land

Please tell me this is not true, because these two things are not at all the same. 15% of American households are food insecure, and people sure do go hungry, but the US is not enduring famine.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:41 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
posted by ubiquity at 1:43 PM on November 12, 2012


In the vein of exhibiting actual doublethink, I was kind of rendered speechless by John McCain's 2008 statement—subsequent to the U.S.-orchestrated invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq—that In the 21st century nations don't invade other nations. (Responding to a question on the Russian invasion of Georgia.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:48 PM on November 12, 2012


Operation Iraqi Freedom. Note that up until 1989, military operations were usually just given random words for names. Since then, however, the Defense Department has taken a proactive (if shameless and unsubtle) approach towards shaping the public perception of wars and campaigns.
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:55 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Rules of engagement", and although we don't use it anymore "Nation Building" was quite popular for a time.
posted by Gungho at 1:57 PM on November 12, 2012


Note that up until 1989, military operations were usually just given random words for names.

It may be relevant that that the random word thing was a security measure which was, as stated above, jettisoned in favor of P.R.
posted by griphus at 1:59 PM on November 12, 2012


In recent years several Canadian cities (most notably, Toronto) have hired consultants to do "core service reviews" to find out how municipalities can save money. The consultants review all the services the municipality provides and then come up with a list of services that could be cut or reduced.

The consulting company for Toronto called the list of proposed cuts/reductions "opportunities."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:06 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Battlespace
posted by jquinby at 2:08 PM on November 12, 2012


"Solution" has never quite been the same since "Final Solution"

By the same token, "security" and "for your security" now imply less than total consent.

Neighbourhood watch is a neologism for good old fashioned nosiness.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:11 PM on November 12, 2012


Insurgent replaced rebel
posted by sciencegeek at 2:13 PM on November 12, 2012


Fusion center
Joint unconventional warfare
Special Activities Division
National Clandestine Service
Detention camp
High-value target
Communication Management Unit, created for use with "terrorist inmates."
"Standard operating procedure."
posted by castlebravo at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Related: The NCTE Doublespeak Award and its past recipients (.pdf).
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:24 PM on November 12, 2012


The consulting company for Toronto called the list of proposed cuts/reductions "opportunities."

OMG, opportunity is doublespeak for problem?? I worked at IBM too long!
posted by ubiquity at 2:28 PM on November 12, 2012


Cost-Benefit Analysis
Evidence-Based Practice
Best Practices

These are all terms that are difficult to be opposed to semantically, but their actual real-life referents are chosen by those who use their institutional power to define the terms in ways that support specific agendas.
posted by univac at 2:59 PM on November 12, 2012


Kinetic action.
No-kill zone.
posted by ecmendenhall at 5:21 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Ethnic cleansing." The first time I heard those two words used together, my blood ran cold. Now it's utterly routine.
posted by Corvid at 6:44 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Special methods of questioning/enhanced coercive interrogation technique - after all the US would never torture people
Pulled from here
posted by Hactar at 9:03 PM on November 12, 2012


The use of acronyms and backronyms, i.e., the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act).
posted by kirkaracha at 9:43 PM on November 12, 2012


'friendly fire'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:45 PM on November 12, 2012


'Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder' (see Carlin's bit on that phrase and others)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:48 PM on November 12, 2012


"Job creators." "Death panels." "Death tax." Bush's "Clear Skies Act," which weakened pollution regulations. Basically, anything Frank Luntz says.
posted by walla at 6:34 AM on November 13, 2012


Peace through Strength
Self-Deportation
Axis of Evil
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:32 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also related: David Neiwert's excellent and thorough Rush, Newspeak and Fascism.
posted by Aquaman at 8:55 PM on November 13, 2012


Cost sharing.
posted by pants at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2012


George Carlin on "shell shock" > "battle fatigue" > "operational exhaustion" > "post-traumatic stress disorder."
There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap.

In the first world war, that condition was called "shell shock." Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, "shell shock." Almost sounds like the guns themselves.
...
I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called "post-traumatic stress disorder." Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. "Post-traumatic stress disorder."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2012


The full quote of that routine (with some other good stuff as well) is in my link a few comments up, kirkaracha!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:58 PM on November 18, 2012


"Ethnic cleansing" is actually the translation of a Serbo-Croatian phrase, describing a very old and worldwide set of practices.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:36 PM on June 4, 2013


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