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Kat’s blog: The Definition of Words Matters

Watch the current goings on in Washington.

Politicians have become fluent at arguing over the definition of words.

During the Clinton administration it was the word “is” that Pres. Clinton needed defined.

Now, with Attorney General Barr the word “summary” is an issue.

I don’t know about the folks in Washington but where I come from all you have to do is look up the definition of a word in the dictionary. It’s not rocket science. Definitions of words are pretty clear cut aren’t they? While those in Washington may dance around the dictionary meaning, most of us with a basic education understand perfectly Webster’s definition of words.

Or then again, maybe not.

Ask your average Joe what a “Registrant” or a “Registered Citizen” is. Most think the terms have something to do with either voting rights or immigration status.

How about the term “sex offender”? Most will say the first thing that pops into their heads, a “sex offender” is a child molester.

What about pedophile? For many, the words pedophile and “sex offender” are interchangeable.

Aren’t all “sex offenders” pedophiles, they ask?

While some may know that pedophilia is a DSM-V diagnosis related to a psychiatric disorder and that every “sex offender” is not a pedophile, there is a large portion of our society that doesn’t know that.

Words and their definitions matter.

Who do we blame for this haphazard use of verbiage? We can blame the media for some of it. It seems the media often uses the term “sex offender” to describe anyone and everyone. They seldom differentiate between low-level or violent offenders when using the term, after all, stories about low level offenders don’t make good press.

We can blame the government, they use the term Sex Offender Registry as a catch-all term. Even though all offenses are different the term Sex Offender Registry obliges the public’s interpretation that “everyone on this list has committed some heinous act” or they wouldn’t be on it. We know nothing could be further from the truth, but words and terms are misinterpreted by people, sometime inadvertently and sometimes intentionally.
Words and their correct definitions matter.

We need to begin correcting these errors when we see or hear them in news articles, in bills put forth by our legislators or in the media.

I guarantee that if we don’t, no one is going to do it for us.


Join the discussion

  1. Tim

    ” .marriage ” has been redefined!
    ” Punishment ” has been redefined.
    Money IS Speech
    BOTH Ds& Rs.

    • dph

      Thanks KAT! We love your articles, yes we do.
      Thanks Tim for commenting and reading too.

  2. E

    How about “punishment?”

    Everyone who learns of my duty to register assumes it’s part of the punishment (paying debt to society). Otherwise, why would I have to do that? It’s “obviously” terrible to have to register (anyone who doesn’t register would hate to do it).

    But no, this isn’t punishment. If it were, it would be unconstitutional because it’s all changed multiple times since I was convicted. To make it constitutional we need to define what clearly IS punishment as NOT punishment.

    • Tim

      Registration is plain indenture. To a property’s maintenance. A larger question is why demand the “civil” lable. Answer? To deem civil the gov USES,not otherwise mentioned, of the database machine to monitor the whole population electronically. The FIRST justification was the most vile precisely because emotion would overcome common sense concerning the implication of enslaving humans to databases upkeep. It was thought the social media broadcasts would decrease lawlessness when nothing could be further from the truth. Social media exacerbated crime exponentially as did SOR, in terms of vigilantism, FTR infractions, and judicially voided “residence restriction \banishment ( lawlessness by local government ). And I have not mentioned identity theft, false accounts fraud, nor phishing.

  3. Facts should matter

    What’s equally bad, if not worse, is the “crimes against children” phrasing they frequently use to magnify the emotional hysteria and outrage. ” (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force.” This self-aggrandizing wordage is done on purpose to facilitate grants and the illusion of immediacy and urgency. It’s all a form of weaponized fear mongering.

    Cops are under constant pressure to stay relevant and prove themselves, so naturally they’re gonna continue to bad mouth us with impunity.

    Just like “see something, say something” is used to increase arrests and to benefit the private prison complex.

  4. The Unforgiven

    Would love someone to address “convicted pedophile”. I hear that across media often. They do not help at all when they use sensational language. I’m not on the Trump train but my gawd, he’s absolutely right when he says that “fake news” exists.

  5. Anony mous

    Theft offender
    Fraud offender
    DOT offender
    Gang offender
    Weapon offender
    Ordinance offender
    Sex offender

    Yeah, These all onerous.
    The list could be a mile long.
    Start calling DAs and politicians constitutional offenders.

  6. Chris f

    My favorite is the definition of “convicted”.

    For those of us in states where we took deals to have our case dismissed with “deferred adjudication” or had convictions “set aside” we were supposed to have no convictions on our record and returned to full rights of a citizen.

    Then the attorney general decided the way to make SORNA apply to us as well was to simply re define “convicted” to mean plead guilty or no contest even if not convicted. In other words, they just made “not convicted” mean the same as “convicted”.

    So basically, no contract or agreement from the past retains its original meaning as long as the government can just redefine the written words to mean something different, or even the exact opposite.

    I dont recall the founding fathers giving that authority to our government.

  7. Billy Jack

    Thank you Kat for your quality posts. I’m having a hell of a time finding a job or a place to live. And all I did was find that image that should have never been available out on the Internet. Period

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