Gloss, Some Kind Of / Teaching / Scholarship / Glossary /
Definitions, Ironies, Semiotic Whirligigs, Wisecracks …

Some Kind Of …

I first noticed this phrase as invidiously iterative in crummy science fiction movies: They have some king of ray gun … It was some kind of robot … some kind of cyborg …   Now I notice it everywhere: I think he must be some kind of radical … some kind of Communist …

In many of its manifestations it’s a code phrase. It means that the subject is not one of us. It means that the weapon wielded by the alien is not recognizable to reasonable men. Therefore, it’s not fair, it’s black-magical: it’s cheating. Therefore, the N-, Jew, Communist, Terrorist … is not subject to the Bill of Rights, to due process, to the presumption of innocence, not deserving of fair play … We don’t have to honor any treaties with him, not even remember Rules of Engagement and so forth.

Alas, the code phrase doesn’t appear merely in B s-f flicks: you’ll hear it (if you’re listening) occasionally from academics, from lawyers, from bureaucrats …

It’s a labeling. It’s a subtractive label. It labels the other as OTHER.

I write something, I mount it: reading it later I find errors, overstatements, typos, infelicities … This time, bkMarcus came back at me with a flaw before I’d even had a chance to find it myself. Good: I wish I was always caught before I notice my own guilt for myself. This way it can get fixed pronto.

I’ve already added the necessary qualifying word or two above, and now add a bkMarcus counterweight:

Some kind of wonderful …

Though I had not meant my statements “absolutely” I had made them (too) absolutely. Point remains: beware the potential pejorative emotional content of the phrase.

Actually, a better point will emerge once I make time to rewrite the whole thing: the phrase does consistently invoke a sense of alien: too often “the alien” is meant by xenophobic mouths to fall on xenophobic ears. (Too often it does.)

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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