Thursday, March 13, 2014

Straight talk: an example (22) – Laurence Vance

We writers need to read a little straight talk now and then. By contrast, it makes us more aware of the evasive diction (sample here) that besets us every day, so we won’t unconsciously imitate evasive diction.

An example of straight talk

In his book The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, Laurence Vance (pictured) writes this:

“The [U.S.] federal war on drugs is undefendable. Not only has it failed to curtail drug use, it has eroded civil liberties, destroyed financial privacy, corrupted law enforcement, crowded prisons with non-violent offenders, ruined countless lives, and wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.”*


That’s an opinion stated strongly and clearly in fewer than 50 words. Most business executives couldn’t talk this straight to save their lives.** They are hopeless pussyfooters and you should try not to imitate them.

Please note: As always on this blog, I am analyzing diction, not ideas. For example, whether I agree or disagree (or both or neither) with Mr. Vance is irrelevant to this post.

The Takeaway: We are often startled by straight talk. We react this way because we have become habituated to evasive diction (more samples here). I advise you to occasionally read, listen to, or view some straight talk. It will help you become less likely to passively absorb and unconsciously imitate evasive diction.

See disclaimer.

*As quoted by Jacob G. Hornberger.

**I claim the professional expertise to make this generalization, having spent 33 years as a speechwriter and coach to hundreds of executives. Generally speaking, the larger the company the more evasive the language.

No comments:

Post a Comment