Istook’s Insights: The promotion, protection and power of words

Washington, D.C. – We cannot properly govern ourselves when the people cannot learn the facts.

Tax money hires thousands of press secretaries, communications directors, and public information officers. But reporters still can’t get straight answers. Media complain that government is trying to control and manipulate the news.

Workers often can talk with reporters only if a political public relations person is there to control the interview and often to interfere. Questions must be submitted in advance in writing, so slanted responses can be composed. Freedom of Information Act requests routinely are stonewalled.

When information is delayed, the facts may never get reported, or surface late so they’re considered stale news that gets ignored.

Government press people often don’t consider it their job to provide information. Instead, they manipulate what America knows, telling you what they want you to think, and very little else.

Words have power: The University of Oklahoma expelled students for racist remarks. The decision was popular, but it was not right.

A video went viral of fraternity boys singing off-key and off-campus about hanging blacks from a tree and keeping them out of their fraternity. 

That’s a black eye for them, their fraternity, and their school, the University of Oklahoma.

OU’s president expelled them, saying they created a “hostile educational environment.”

OU policies say students get a hearing before being disciplined. It did not happen; the students got no due process.

The University of Oklahoma is part of government, which is prohibited from suppressing free speech. 

The First Amendment is meant to protect us when we say things that others don’t like. You cannot force people to be politically correct.

If a college president can single-handedly punish students for exercising one constitutional right, albeit in an ugly way, then other rights are also in jeopardy.

Finally, is there something wrong with being a taxpayer?

A left-wing writer wants to ban the word “taxpayer.” He claims the term benefits conservatives and threatens equality under law, by implying that those who pay for government deserve better treatment than those who do not.

Remember that half of America’s adults pay zero federal income tax. 

The word taxpayer is a threat to the system of getting elected by giving government benefits to a majority, sending the tax bills to the smaller group that got outvoted, then borrowing the rest and never worrying about who will pay it back.

Words matter in politics. Political correctness confuses us, making things deliberately unclear. Illegal immigrant means more than an undocumented person. Amnesty is more than prosecutorial discretion.

The term taxpayer is valuable because it says than somebody has accepted responsibility. If we give up on that word, we’re saying that being responsible is no longer important.