Newspeak is easy to miss if one isn’t paying attention. If one hears a politician apologize ‘I’m sorry you caught me …’ without really listening to word usage, you get the impression of remorse, of an admission of guilt – but this is an apology for getting caught – not for the ‘alleged’ action they were ‘guilty’ of. ‘I’m sorry if that’s how it appears to you’ is another of those sidestepping responsibility admissions – this one puts the blame on you not on them.grey01

The most recent example of newspeak I’ve heard is ‘the suspect has been neutralized.’ This was said repeatedly by the authorities  during the Oregon shooting. Like the notion of ‘collateral damage’ which means civilians were killed, ‘neutralized’ is a way of distancing listeners from the facts. I even heard that the ‘alleged’ gunman was ‘neutralized’ – ‘alleged’ allows for him to maybe be innocent? At least he his definitely male & not ‘allegedly’ male.


It wasn’t until a reporter directly asked – is the gun man dead – that the police said ‘Yes, he’s dead.’ I stopped watching before experts were brought in to help the healing begin. What we need is a linguist so the understanding can begin.

When I hear the term ‘neutralized’ I get a flash of him being neutered – that there’s been a castration of sorts – an angry mob tearing his cock & balls off. You know if this were in fact what it meant I’m sure the crime rate would drop. tree02

I’m not sure what to do with this need to tiptoe, soften or avoid direct statements. Political correctness has pushed people into a kind of coy over-sensitiveness. On Top Model one of the male ‘alleged’ models admitted that he’s ‘gender fluid’ – wtf? So he’s not gay, bi, hetero, or trans. As much I like the notion of ‘fluid’ it comes across as one of those admissions in which one doesn’t have to be responsible for clarity.grey02

I’m always suspicious of language that evades a direct conformation. Ambiguity as a literary construct can create suspense, can allow the reader to experience their own doubts & thoughts but even in literature the reader eventually wants facts, a sense of conclusion. ‘Happily ever after’ does satisfy without showing us how they live but ‘allegedly happily ever after’ – well – that make me laugh now that I see it in print – in fact I might use it sometime but only as a sardonic comment on the need for concrete conclusions.




do you remember the feel of

did it sound like

was there a moment when

could you count the number of

was there a place that

did the reasons seem

could you take back what

was there another opportunity to

was that the first time he

was she ever

where you there when

did he want more than

when did it first appear that

who did he

was there a time of

was that an opportunity to

why didn’t one of you

was the taste similar to

does this remind you of

was there ever a time when

did the bed

would you ever again

could there be a chance that

did the money make a

why take another

is this the way he

is this where you first

the pain wasn’t as bad as

what were the reasons

after the first words

does his smile

do you remember the feel of

did you count the number of

does anyone have

will you ever again

what did you expect after

was it because he

why did

do you feel that

could he have

should you have


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


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One thought on “Neutralized

  1. Love the poem. I feel like the incomplete statements lock me into the language in a very different way than completed statements do…here, I’m forced to make myself part of the meaning/message.

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