They Literally mean Figuratively

Created a video version of this post.

Some words are so important they should be used literally and almost never figuratively. Words such as rape, racist, genocide are 3 examples that will be discussed below

The following was chanted by #BLACKLIVESMATTER protesters at a UC Irvine event featuring Los Angeles police Chief Charles Beck. “LAPD you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” – the signs they carried included “Blackness is not a crime” and “Fire Beck.”

Chief Beck stated that

“The Black Lives chapter in Los Angeles is unfortunately more about making statements than having discussions,” Beck said. “Oftentimes, our Police Commission meetings are more about theater than substance.”

Statements rather than  discussion. Theater over substance. This isn’t that much of a reach, evidenced by the slogan “Hands up’ Don’t shoot,” which though thoroughly discounted is still in use as a statement.

“LAPD you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.”

Genocide. The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. Surely they mean it as a statement and not the actual definition. Blackness isn’t literally a crime as they were not currently being arrested or executed, or did they mean situationally? As for Firing Beck, they likely meant that literally, but the genocide?

Is it literal or figurative?

Surely they can’t mean genocide in terms of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923), of which “Raphael Lemkin was explicitly moved by the Armenian annihilation to define systematic and premeditated exterminations within legal parameters and to coin the word genocide in 1943.” Do these protestors actually consider their plight on that same level?

Rape of Nanking level of utter descent into hellish forms of depravity? Rape is horrific enough as it is, now to have a genocide described as such I was wary of learning any details about it. I finally delved into it further as part of researching about the World Wars. It earned that title. Unlikely they mean this, if they even know about it.

How about a more publicized one such as the horrors of the Rwandan genocide in which 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsis were slaughtered between April 7 to mid-July, 1994. A 100 day period. The actual genocide occurred before today’s 24-7 news cycle but was publicized in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda.* Though I was in Kenya during the years leading up to this genocide, likely due to my young age and aforementioned lower levels of information sharing one of the most enduring images I have of the genocide is a scene from the movie. Interior shot of a car driving foggy darkness. It begins to jostle and bump around, to which one character says to the other that they must have driven off the road. Driver stops the car and other goes out to check, only to fall onto the mass of bodies strewn on the road.

So if it’s not just the sheer numbers… could the protestors be referring to what the LAPD has been doing to black people? Is the current situation faced by Yazidis at the hands of ISIS similar? Reportedly over 5,000 killed and between 5,000 – 7,000 women abducted since August 2014. Surely no one would make the claim that the LAPD are abducting and displacing black lives in this manner. Or are they?

The examples above are of people considered to be of the same race by many on the outside. Those involved in the genocides would likely say otherwise. Tribe, culture, religion, clans and more are divisions that exist. Divisions that by definition can be very divisive.

Diversity is not always a strength. Depending on the situation it can be a terminal weakness. Trying to understand diversity through speaking, reading, conversation and exchange of information has been a great benefit to me. To do that words must mean what they mean. In the least there should be agreement between the participants in any given discussion as to what the words being used mean.

Some words should be used almost exclusively in their literal sense.

keepusingthatword-rantatonneThere were some counter protesters

Kimo Gandall, 19 and a freshman at UC Irvine, carried a “Black Lies Matter” banner.

“This movement perpetuates anarchy, violence and lies against the police,” he said of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Anarchy is another term that is often misused. Or am I wrong for still using it’s original intent? No rulers not no rules. No leader does not mean mean chaos. How does a word change for it’s literal meaning to a figurative one? When does the ‘new’ definition become the actual substance of it?

Why not just make up a new word?

  • *Hotel Rwanda starred Don Cheadle. I assume he must have done a lot of research into the tribalism, racism and other realities that led to the hateful genocide. So when in the Save the Day PSA he says about the USA presidential election  “a racist, abusive coward who could permanently damage the fabric of our society” I wonder what exactly he means.
  • They mean everyone figuratively.literally-everyone-trump
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