The most policed
Ever since they first appeared, words have been the most policed item on Earth, more than any behavior, substance, or drug.
“In the beginning is the word” explains why, or as Rupert Kipling would have it, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” It is not merely about interest in drugs, of course. The word-police objective is control of the word-user, that is you and me.
Pre-internet, the policing of words was a manual affair. Imagine that! Keeping up with word-usage took armies of people who could read and write (the exception at the time). It also cost an arm and a leg and, therefore, was the exclusive domain of large organizations, such as religions and governments. Sure, the reward system at the time — get paid in land the chief said was his — made it affordable, but that’s about chiefs, a different story entirely.
Because the internet gobbles up, stores, and disseminates more words faster than anything invented for that purpose before, after the internet, word-polices sprouted like mushroom after the rain. Specifically designed for the purpose, the internet makes word-searches easy and has leveled the playing field. Anyone with wifi and a handheld device — whether religion, government, service, corporation, league, association, individual, private, public, or secret — can be or have a word-police now.
So-called spyware. For example, Pegasus by the Israeli NSO Group, a spyware (that can be) covertly installed on mobile phones running iOS and Android. In mid-July 2021, an international consortium of journalists reported Pegasus had also been used to spy on opposition members, reporters, journalists, human rights activists, their family members and business people. In early November, the US government put NSO on its sanctions list, citing evidence that spy software had been supplied to governments that used it for the spying of, among others, government officials, journalists and scientists.
Those who say it is to keep us safe, and are honest about it, clearly also exist. But in large part, I think it is about keeping us on the straight and narrow. Depending on where you live, that might be all there is to it.
The games people play
Some of the word-watchers aren’t actual word-police, but instead they are word-watching the internet for nothing but opportunities to act offended, defamed, broken-hearted, having their feathers ruffled or their fury raised, or hurt in some other way, by a word they’ve worked hard all day to locate.
They’re only just playing the blame game and you’ve got better things to do. Ignore them if you can, but make no mistake about it, they all want the same thing: For you to not use your common senses… or to at least keep quiet when you do.
Freedom of speech begins with freedom of words.
As we speak
Just because some of us are paranoiacs, that doesn’t mean the word-police is an illusion — as too many in many countries only know too well.
Once you decide living in fear is out of the question, your only options are joy and quitting.
“Like primitive, we now live in a global village of our own making, a simultaneous happening. It doesn’t necessarily mean harmony and peace and quiet, but it does mean huge involvement in everybody else’s affairs.” – Marshall McLuhan