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The words listed here are ones that are often used by politicians and the media to put spin on an idea. The following words mean almost the same thing, but convey completely different images to the listener.

Affirmative Action / Racial Discrimination - Both mean "preferential treatment for a particular race". However, the first is mandated by law and the second in illegal.

Alternative lifestyles / sexual perversions - First, let's examine the definition of perversion from Webster's dictionary:

per-ver-sion (per-vur'-zhan) n. a turning from the true purpose, use, or meaning; corruption; unnatural manifestation of sexual desire.
If you follow this definition, any sexual act performed for any "unnatural" reasons (i.e. for any reason other than the "natural", instinctual purpose of reproduction) can be considered a perversion. There are many activities that either completely prohibit or are unnecessary for the purpose of propagation of the species, such as Bestiality (sex with animals), Homosexuality (attraction to same sex), Pedophilia (attraction to children), Necrophilia (Sexual gratification by having sex with the dead), Monogamy (attraction to only one mate), Chastity (abstaining from sex), and Bondage. It is difficult to claim that any of these practices are instinctual, since they are not routinely practiced by other mammals. This is not to say that these desires are necessarily wrong, but it should be recognized that they are all perversions of a human's natural desire to mate.

Unfortunately, this fact is hard for some people to take. They don't like being told that what they are doing is in fact, very weird. So, in order to remove the stigma of being a pervert, it was necessary to come up with the term alternative lifestyle to describe these strange mating habits.

Here is an interesting example I found in the St. Louis Riverfront Times

...a fall 1999 British-made documentary, "Hidden Love: Animal Passions", reported on practitioners in Missouri's "zoophile" community (i.e., Human beings romantically involved with animals), including an interview with an uncloseted zoophile gushing over his "wife", Pixel, a horse; said one activists, "We are not sick at all. Zoosexuality is (merely) an alternative lifestyle". - Riverfront Times, Feb 9-15, 2000 p.8

Attack / Retaliation - When our allies suffer a loss of life/property at the hands of an enemy, it is called a cold-blooded attack. When our enemies suffer a loss of life/property at the hands of an ally, it is called retaliation.

And when that enemy retaliates for the attack it just suffered, it is again referred to as a cold-blooded attack -- never as retaliation. No matter how often this cycle continues, our side is always said to be retaliating to the other side's attack.

This effect is most apparent in the Israeli / Palestinian war. The Palestinians will launch a surprise attack, and Israel will retaliate. The Palestinians will launch another surprise attack, and Israel will retaliate again. The Palestinians launch yet another surprise attack, and Israel... well, you get the idea.

When the events are explained in explained in this manner, one might get the impression that Israel is the victim of Palestinian aggression -- That Israelis desire nothing but peace and Palestinians desire nothing but war. Of course, it is impossible to say for sure 'who started it'. After all, this land had been changing hands continuously for the last 2500 years. However -- As far as I can tell, this latest conflict began back in the 1940's when Anglo-American and Jewish terrorist forces (Irgon and Stern) forced the Palestinians off their land in order to pave the way for the creation of a Jewish state.

Of course Israel wants peace now -- They are the ones with the land! Demanding peace after forcibly taking another person's land is like winning a large sum of money on the first hand of poker and then refusing to play another game. The Palestinians want their land back -- and Israel is trying to claim the moral high ground by denying them a chance to win it back.

Bust / Massive arrest by the state - When US police go on rampage and incarcerate large numbers of people during the "War on Drugs" it is considered a great victory ... When China arrest large numbers of people for trying to bring down the government, it is considered to be a barbaric act against basic human rights.

Campaign contribution / bribe - Is there any difference at all? In theory, a bribe is a guarantee that a political payoff will result on a specified action being taken by a politician. But a campaign contribution is not supposed to contain such a quid pro quo But why else would an organization give $500,000 to a political candidate, if the didn't expect something in return?

Civilian Casualties / Collateral damage - Other countries kill their own citizens... America only damages them.

Charity / Redistribution of wealth - When you offer food to people that are hungry, you are giving charity. When a government takes money from you in order to give it to people that aren't a whole hell of a lot poorer than you, it is called redistribution of wealth.

Dedicated / Fanatical - The US is "Dedicated" to keeping drugs out of America, while the citizens of Salem were "Fanatical" for their desire to keep witches out of Salem.

Educated / Brainwashed - US children are "Educated" about the evils of drugs, pollution, and race relations ... Soviet children were "Brainwashed" in Soviet doctrine.

Ethnic Cleansing / Population Transfer - The US forced thousands of Germans out of their homes after WWII. (The land was given to Poland for "war reparations") At the time, we called this "Population Transfer".

Freedom fighters / Terrorists - Freedom Fighters attack other governments to obtain "freedom". Terrorists attack the U.S. and our allies, in order to gain their freedom.

Invasion / Military Police Action / Peacekeeping - All of these words can be used to describe when one country puts troops in another land. The choice of which word to use depends entirely on which country is performing this action. When the USSR entered Afghanistan to support the existing government, it was called an invasion. When the US put troops in Vietnam, it was considered a "police action". The presence of U.N. troops in Bosnia is called "Peacekeeping".

Law and Order / Oppression - Every law has at its core a desire to force a person to behave a certain way, and is a form a oppression. The only factor that determines whether a law is "oppressive' is whether or not you agree with it -- and whether or not you believe that the law will effect you!

Prohibition / War on Drugs - You can find a detailed comparison here.

Realistic / Stereotypical - If a person believes that it is a bad idea to walk though the ghetto at night, they are simply being realistic. However, if they take the next step and say that the reason it's such a bad idea is because of the people that live in that neighborhood, they are accused of stereotyping.

Revolution / Civil War - When the colonies revolted against oppression from Britain, it was called a "revolution". When the south revolted against the oppression of Washington DC, it was called a civil war. I guess it all depends on who wins the war. If the government wins, it is a civil war. If the citizens win, it is a revolution.

Shell Shock / Combat Fatigue / Operational Exhaustion / Post-traumatic stress disorder - The comedian George Carlin once pointed out how the way we describe this condition has changed over the years. He pointed out how the wording has changed to completely remove any connection with the horrors of war from the name of the condition, even though it is the horrors of war which is the direct cause of the condition.

Self-confident / Arrogant - Liberals are self-confident... because they are dedicated to their beliefs. But, conservatives are arrogant because they are dedicated to their beliefs.

Slave/Serf/indentured servant/debtor

A slave labors for his owner, and in return is given food, shelter, and the occasional lashing. He is the property of his master, and may be sold at any time.

In the by-gone days of Europe, a surf was required to give 20% of his produce to his lord - in exchange he had enough food to eat, and was allowed to live on the land. Actually, a serf is considered part of land - If the property is sold, he is sold with it. This is an improvement over slavery in that families cannot be broken up at the whim of the master - plus the peasant is allowed to accumulate some possessions.

An Indentured servant was required to work for his "master" for a term of years. This servitude was generally "repayment" for some sort of loan or grant. Many colonists became indentured servants to pay for their passage to the new world.

Today's society is far more advanced. People are no longer considered to be anybody else's property. They my own their own property. None-the-less, a worker must still pay 38% of what they earn to the state. To make matters worse, most are heavily in debt to banks and other lending institutions. In a sense, they have allowed themselves to become "indentured servants" by agreeing to loans with 15%-20% usury charges. They are forced to hand over a large percentage of their income to their new masters. (Did you really think the bank was doing you a favor by giving you a credit card?)

Spend / Invest - Politicians aren't spending taxpayer money - they're investing it. Normally, when one says that he is investing money, we assume that that person is intending to profit monetarily from that investment. The definition according to the American Heritage® Dictionary is:
in•vest - To commit (money or capital) in order to gain a financial return: (invested their savings in stocks and bonds.)
If we adhere to this definition, the act of squandering taxpayer money on pet projects cannot be considered investing -- That is, unless the politician is expecting to profit from it personally. But of course, this is sometimes the case. Like when politicians spend money in order to please their campaign contributors, who in turn give the politicians even more money come election time.

Tax Cut / Tax Scheme - When the Republicans propose a tax cut, the Democrats call it a tax scheme. In the English language, the word scheme is normally used to describe a plot to rip people off. It is not used to describe a plan to let people keep what is theirs.

Take a look at these examples, and see if you can figure out which sentences are not correct:

  1. A dangerous computer hacker came up with a scheme to steal thousands of credit card numbers without getting caught.

  2. The bank robber came up with a scheme to become a law abiding citizen.

  3. The unscrupulous tele-marketing company schemed to rip-off the elderly.

  4. The doctors in the emergency room schemed to save their patient's life.

If you answered #2 & #4, CONGRATULATIONS - You are a normal human being!

I can appreciate the fact that it is hard for a politician to fight a tax cut, but blatant misuse of the English language is not the answer. Shame on you, Democrats.

Trickle-Down Economics / Supply side economics - The belief that companies create jobs. It is the belief that if America produces more, we will have more stuff... go figure.

Visionary / unrealistic - All Visionaries have been called unrealistic at one time or another.

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