A Controversial Post

 
Prince knows what’s what.

Scanning my Twitter feed, I saw that Politico wrote about a shake-up at the Heritage Foundation. Here’s the lead:

The controversial president of The Heritage Foundation, former Sen. Jim DeMint, may soon be out of a job, following a dispute with board members about the direction of conservative think tank, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

I stopped on the second word because overusing “controversial” is one of my journalistic pet peeves. Whenever a conservative personality, bill, or issue is mentioned by the mainstream press, controversial is the go-to adjective. Meanwhile, a Democratic pol or proposal is described as “historic,” “bold,” or “sweeping.” It’s a subtle difference, but the adjective used is a handy way to position a subject as negative or positive.

Curious, I popped over to Google News and learned that the word “controversial” results in “about 23,700,000 results.” A few examples from the first page:

Controversial Seattle homeless shelter delayed until July

Controversial pet store opens in Grandville

Fourth man dies in controversial flurry of Arkansas executions

Technically, if one person disagrees with the new Grandville, MI pet store, you could call it controversial. But at this point, I assume the AP Stylebook defines “controversial” as “something the author doesn’t like.”

Democratic Rep. Jesus Rubalcava, angered over passage of the controversial school-voucher style legislation last week, wrote on social media he wanted to throat-punch its sponsor, Republican Sen. Debbie Lesko.

Vouchers are controversial, but the threat of physical violence is fine.

Congress is considering options to soften a controversial centerpiece of the House Republicans’ tax plan — a step that might mean smaller tax cuts for corporations — as President Donald Trump begins the process of crafting a tax overhaul plan.

Tax cuts for corporations are controversial, but their current high rate isn’t.

With the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump reinstated a controversial rule that blocks foreign aid for family planning services.

Known as the “Mexico City policy” or the “Global Gag Rule,” the policy bars foreign aid or federal funding for international programs that provide abortions — or even information about the procedure.

The Mexico City policy is controversial, even though 83 percent of Americans support it.

Now let’s look at the other side’s actual controversial positions:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) is a sweeping healthcare reform legislation enacted in 2010.

Former President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Health Care for America Act on March 23, 2010. The historic bill was passed by the House of Representatives after a 14-month political battle that left the legislation without a single Republican vote.

[Zelizer] cites the notorious tea party outburst against the Affordable Care Act — “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!” — as evidence that conservatives today accept the fruits of the Great Society, even if they don’t realize it. His more fundamental point is that it’s always a struggle to enact bold legislation, which becomes possible in historical moments created by much broader forces than the political genius of a few individuals.

So the next time you see a news story reporting on a “controversial school choice bill,” translate it to the “sweeping, historic, and bold school choice bill” to reduce your blood pressure.

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Members have made 17 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Cato Rand Member

    Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like. Like.

    • #1
    • April 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm
    • Like17 likes
  2. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Meanwhile, a Democratic pol or proposal is described as “historic,” “bold,” or “sweeping.” It’s a subtle difference,

    It’s not that subtle.

    • #2
    • April 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm
    • Like24 likes
  3. Profile photo of Full Size Tabby Member

    When reading standard news sources, I have for some time read “controversial” as “conservative.” As you note, it spares my blood pressure, and is accurate almost all the time.

    • #3
    • April 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm
    • Like15 likes
  4. Profile photo of Richard Easton Member

    What’s the ratio of usage of far right to far left by the MSM. 100-1? 1000-1? Do they think anyone is far left (yes, we know many of them are which is why they don’t use the term).

    • #4
    • April 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm
    • Like12 likes
  5. Profile photo of tigerlily Member

    Richard Easton (View Comment):
    What’s the ratio of usage of far right to far left by the MSM. 100-1? 1000-1? Do they think anyone is far left (yes, we know many of them are which is why they don’t use the term).

    Yeah, I was just going to make the same point. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the media call a democrat politician left wing, let alone far left.

    • #5
    • April 28, 2017 at 7:09 pm
    • Like5 likes
  6. Profile photo of Quake Voter Thatcher

    Liberal usage is actually pretty etymological. Nearly every conservative and conservatarian idea is “against verse”, right? We’re refusing to read from their catechism or sing from their hymnal.

    • #6
    • April 28, 2017 at 8:01 pm
    • Like2 likes
  7. Profile photo of Chris Campion Thatcher

    I believe the title below Jon’s melon to be somewhat controversial. I prefer the more warming tones of, say, “Ace”, or even “Slick”.

    • #7
    • April 29, 2017 at 5:52 am
    • Like7 likes
  8. Profile photo of Quake Voter Thatcher

    We could have some fun with this OP and create our liberal/conservative thesaurus.

    First pairs that come to mind:

    (Liberal/Conservative):

    responsive/reactionary

    innovative/untested

    ethical/moralistic

    entrepreneur/businessman (inherited wealth/position always noted)

    challenging/contentious

    dispute/oppose

    heated/incendiary

    • #8
    • April 29, 2017 at 7:14 am
    • Like9 likes
  9. Profile photo of cdor Member

    The left does indeed control the narrative by controlling the language. It is, at times, obtuse. But more often it is very subtle, yet pervasive. I hear the pejorative towards conservatism constantly in standard conversation and banter during TV shows. I often pause the TV to point out the tilt to my wife. On “news” broadcasts it’s always far right this and far right that. When do we ever hear positions described as far left? When you start out as left being the mainstream, all the other biases follow.

    • #9
    • April 29, 2017 at 7:17 am
    • Like3 likes
  10. Profile photo of Randy Weivoda Thatcher

    Although it may be the intention of journalists to make readers think “controversial” is a synonym for “bad,” I’ve never taken it that way. In any group of more than two people, the choice of toppings for pizza is going to be controversial.

    • #10
    • April 29, 2017 at 7:20 am
    • Like1 like
  11. Profile photo of David Carroll Coolidge

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I believe the title below Jon’s melon to be somewhat controversial. I prefer the more warming tones of, say, “Ace”, or even “Slick”.

    The title is blatant cultural appropriation from the American Indians.

    • #11
    • April 29, 2017 at 8:13 am
    • Like7 likes
  12. Profile photo of Richard Easton Member

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I believe the title below Jon’s melon to be somewhat controversial. I prefer the more warming tones of, say, “Ace”, or even “Slick”.

    The title is blatant cultural appropriation from the American Indians.

    Logic came from the Greeks which is why SJWs never employ it.

    • #12
    • April 29, 2017 at 9:07 am
    • Like4 likes
  13. Profile photo of Karon Adams Member

    poe TAE toe, poe TAH toe

    • #13
    • April 29, 2017 at 9:53 am
    • Like2 likes
  14. Profile photo of JL Inactive
    JL

    Personally I enjoyed Congressman Prince Rogers Nelson’s (I,MN) statement on the ACA. Its a bit meandering, but you know how CSPAN is:

    “Dearly beloved
    We are gathered here today
    To get through this thing called life

    Electric word life
    It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
    But I’m here to tell you
    There’s something else
    The afterworld

    A world of never ending happiness
    You can always see the sun, day or night

    So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
    You know the one – Dr Everything’ll Be Alright
    Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
    Ask him how much of your mind, baby

    ‘Cause in this life
    Things are much harder than in the afterworld
    In this life
    You’re on your own”

    • #14
    • April 29, 2017 at 10:28 am
    • Like2 likes
  15. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    It’s not just the choice of individual words, it’s how the words are arranged, particularly in the headlines. For example, take Fast and Furious as an example. If that had happened under the Bush administration, we would have seen a headline like:

    “Bush Administration Illegally Runs Guns in Mexico”

    but since it happened under Obama we get something like:

    “Republicans Claim that DOJ Acted Improperly”.

    If a Republican, it is tied directly to the president (“Bush Administration”), whereas for a Democrat it’s just the agency (“DOJ”), as if that agency has no connection to the president. “Illegal” becomes “Improper”, used in a vague construction. But most importantly, the focus is shifted from what the administration did, to the Republicans complaining about it. Because under a Democrat, the story itself is not important, only that those crazy Republicans are trying to turn it into a scandal.

    They’ve been playing this game for decades now.

    • #15
    • April 29, 2017 at 11:00 am
    • Like11 likes
  16. Profile photo of Rodin Member
    There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.
    • #16
    • April 29, 2017 at 6:33 pm
    • Like1 like
  17. Profile photo of PW Member
    PW

    Thanks, Jon. Good read and fun comments; I will be smiling all day.

    • #17
    • April 30, 2017 at 7:19 am
    • LikeLike