Catchword Rhetoric


In an ideal world, thinkers on opposing sides of any issue would be able to develop arguments in support of their claims and counterarguments in response to their interlocutors. In an ideal world, the validity of an argument would be demonstrated by rational means and apprehended by any reasonable person. Unfortunately, we do not inhabit an ideal world. Perhaps arguments have become just too difficult to follow. Today’s champions of social movements are none other than the crafters of catchwords who advance unsound ideological positions through the use of ideologically-charged buzzwords which do not even approximate sound arguments, but nonetheless persuade uncritical minds.

Tired expressions like “reproductive rights,” “anti-choice,” “back-room abortions,” have been dragged out again in support of recent legislation being advanced at the State House. H7340, the House version of the Reproductive Health Care Act, seeks to repeal a series of state laws that could potentially be invoked if Roe v. Wade were to be revisited by the Supreme Court. Of course, while the move is not surprising, it is disheartening to witness another instance of catchwords being used to advance not a reasonable position but an ideology. They serve only to distract from the most important issue at the heart of any discussion surrounding abortion: the right to life of an innocent, unborn human being. (Change “unborn human being” to “fetus” and we’ve achieved a different tenor in the conversation. “Clump of cells” is even more effective.)

The difficulty is that by masking the true horror of abortion with catchword rhetoric, the utterly sound and reasonable arguments that demonstrate beyond a doubt both the human status of the unborn child, and the intrinsic evil of directly killing that child, are rendered irrelevant. Rhode Islanders who are not just champions of life but also champions of reason should refuse to allow the conversation to denigrate to the level of buzzwords. At the very least, demand as voters that your representatives are not just ideologues but critical thinkers in service of the common good.