Monday, July 26, 2010

Straight talk: an example (6) – John Randolph of Roanoke

For educational purposes, we writers should occasionally read or listen to an example of straight talk. It doesn’t matter whether we agree or disagree with the content – what matters is the expression. Reading or hearing straight talk can help make us more aware of the evasive diction that besets us every day.


John Randolph (1773-1833), known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a United States Senator from Virginia, 1825-1827.

In 1826, Senator Randolph said this of John Quincy Adams, then United States President:

“It is my duty to leave nothing undone that I may lawfully do, to pull down this administration... They who, from indifference, or with their eyes open, persist in hugging the traitor to their bosom, deserve to be insulted... deserve to be slaves, with no other music to soothe them but the clank of the chains which they have put on themselves and given to their offspring.”

Another Example

Here is a better-known example of straight talk from a senator. Thomas Gore, a blind man, was a United States Senator from Oklahoma, 1907-1921 and 1931-1937. He was the maternal grandfather of author Gore Vidal.

In early 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt was secretly planning to repudiate the U.S. Government’s promises to pay its bills in gold. When Senator Gore heard of the plan, he said, “Well, that’s just plain stealing, isn’t it, Mr. President?”

The Takeaway: Many of us are startled when we read or hear straight talk. We react this way because we have been habituated to euphemistical, effete, evasive diction. I advise you to occasionally read or listen to some straight talk. By contrast, it will help you remain consciously aware of evasiveness – and therefore less likely to unconsciously absorb and imitate evasive diction.

See disclaimer.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I'm a big fan of this blog. Thank you for all the help.