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Diction Poisons the Well
“She says she was raped.” The cop, back at the precinct, the complainant in tow, sounds bored, pissed off. At the trial, if there is a trial, the defendant’s lawyer tries the same tactic.
Maybe the judge gets into the act: “So you say you were raped.” The burden of proof is placed firmly on the shoulders of the person of the wrong class, gender, religion, race …
Modern societies, liberal societies … hell, any society knows it has this tendency and experiments with safeguards: to little avail: people will still be people: especially people looking out for Number One in a kleptocracy where the lies are given broadband while the truth can’t get on the subway.
If Donald Trump grabs the cop and says, “I was mugged,” the cop escorts him to the precinct, doesn’t sound bored, pissed off, says “Donald Trump was mugged!”
The burden of proof is now placed on whoever gets accused of doing the mugging: and it will be some burden: uphill all the way.
I went into a precinct once, just to ask local directions. The precinct was gated. The receptionist was barricaded behind bullet-proof glass. She couldn’t hear a word I said the first two repetitions, neither could I understand her once she started to answer. Finally all was clear: I was looking for a gas station that would take old gas for recycling; she didn’t even know the name of the street the precinct was located on.
Hiring only people who just fell out of the sky, don’t know where they are, seems to be a universal job requirement these days. The clerks at the franchise not only don’t know the merchandise, they may not know the name of the store that hired them yesterday, the store they’ll quit tomorrow.
The phenomenon of HeSezHeWuz (as distinct from He Was) can be found throughout society — any society — and I may do a more thorough — and better — treatment in my Social Epistemology area. In fact it is mentioned, in passing, here and there. For now, here’s another passing mention.
Note that I don’t say that the cops, lawyers, judges necessarily know they are doing it. They may. More often not. That’s a laugh to attribute consciousness to kleptocrats.
And if we weren’t all living in kleptocracies, I might still have to make the same points: some of it is plain human nature.
Poisoning the well by the way is a term in logic: where a discussant’s wording prejudices his argument.