Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective.

Tag: Ambiguity

On hysteria

TheThingAboutSERIES: Much public rhetoric in South Africa is defined by hysteria and our response to current affairs, often hysterical in turn. So it is worth paying some attention to the idea. What is the nature of hysteria? Certainly it is extreme in nature but how so? It is perhaps best understood as a kind of drama, with heroes and villains, good and evil. And thus, the last thing hysteria will ever indulge is subtle or ambiguity, doubt or uncertainty.

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‘Proper accountability’

SERIES: Weasel Words: “Words of convenient ambiguity, or a statement from which the meaning has been sucked or retracted,” [Brewer’s Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable]. A great deal of what is said – particularly those contentious statements made in response to sensitive issues – obscure meaning with vagueness and ambiguity. And Weasel words – empty clichés and jargon – often the mechanisms by which this is achieved. Weasel Word Watch is series dedicated to highlighting this kind of misdirection, with a view to cutting through the obfuscation.

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