So-Called Thoughts: Tired turns of phrase


It being election season, a handful of hoary old terms have re-entered the parlance – haggard, pompous turns of phrase which I would be pleased as punch to never experience again.

One of the more wince-worthy sloganettes is “take back.” Who doesn’t want an end to vandalism, thievery and coarse behavior except the slithy toves and opportunivores doing such things?

It’s just that with the Bill of Rights, you aren’t going to “take back the Plaza,” or the Marsh or the Hammond Trail or anywhere else, and you probably don’t really want to. Liberty and all that rot. Of course, if our priorities were different, we’d have such elusive luxuries as education for bad decisionmakers, treatment for druggies, comprehensive mental healthcare for the many who need it, fully staffed police departments, punishment for criminals, cute stuff like that.

Treatment, not “taking,” could, in principle, make the best of things. Grabbiness is never appealing. Besides, the “take back” espousers are sometimes trying to do that with each other and canceling out, rather than finding common ground and working outward as others manage to do.

“Common sense” works in conversation, but if you want make an editor roll their eyes, title your letter that. Since no two Earthlings fully agree about what common sense is, labeling your version with that term faintly implies that your personal brain resonates at the frequency to which all reason must be calibrated. It also has a troubled-loner kind of manifesto-ish aroma to it, so you might as well use glitter pens and weave dandelions into your letter for credibility enhancement (yes, it’s been done).

And then there’s the loftiest of all false notes: “Truth.” It’s probably no accident that a monumentally mendacious former president labels his latest greasy endeavor with that term. As with common sense, billing one’s own opinions as perfect and unerring expressions of fact belies a certain arrogance, or terrible naivete. It’s as if your thoughts are embroidered into the very fabric of the universe to the exclusion of all others. Now if you can prove that, I’m all in.