Always one for a good rant, Greg Gutfeld on Fox News' late afternoon show The Five has recently had a series of "banned words." He argues that certain words and phrases such as "narrative" and "slippery slope" have been over used and therefore shouldn't be used until people learn what they actually mean. It's almost as if Gutfeld has been reading from a copy of Jonah Goldberg's new book, The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.
This is a book about Goldberg's pet peeves. It is about all of the debates, arguments and lectures for which he laboriously prepared and was countered with a lack-luster cop-out of a response. It is about those times that he dumbfoundedly stared as someone, and in his best Inigo Montoya voice said, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." In his own introduction to the book Goldberg says, "there's a kind of argument-that-isn't-an-argument" and he was going to stand for it no longer.
Certain words and phrases have so much power in our political discussion that invoking one acts as a conversation-stopper. This is the tyranny that Goldberg argues serves no justice to the advancement of ideas.
In most cases, these clichés are relied upon as crutches for those too ignorant to realize that they don't actually have an argument. What really vexed Goldberg is that liberals have a way of using them intentionally.
Have you ever wondered what liberals really mean when they said things such as "well you are just an ideologue..." as if they are not? Or they appeal to "social justice" as if we should all intuitively understand what that means. What about people who instinctively say that conservative policies hurt the middle class? Or they say that Republicans are all just "social Darwinists" who deny "science"?
While Goldberg is certainly not the first conservative pundit to point out the brevity and inadequacy of these kinds of liberal arguments, his book takes painstaking efforts to actually work through every tacky cliché. While these represent his personal pet peeves, they certainly ring true for most readers.