Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grammatical shysterism (2)

Here’s another example of grammatical shysterism, the deceptive use of grammar:

When the U.S. Department of Justice “admitted it knew its central contention was false” in its prosecution of a businessman, an employee of the department commented, “Defendants aren’t entitled to a perfect trial. . . . Misstatements happen.”


The Department of Justice employee chose a grammatical structure that avoids any mention of human beings. She avoided saying “we lied” or “Justice lied” or “the prosecutor lied” – or even “we misstated” or “Justice misstated” or “the prosecutor misstated.”

In effect the employee said, “They were not lies at all; they were misstatements. And those misstatements made themselves; nobody at Justice made them.”

Of course, grown-ups easily see through such childish deceptions.

The Takeaway: If you resort to grammatical shysterism, you will sound like a pathetic child.

See disclaimer.

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