Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Chew on this,
Today spin word: “Unhinged”
The un-spun definition according to the Merriam Webster’s dictionary: upset, unglued: mentally deranged.
How it’s used by political pundits and operatives…
National Review Online article excerpt by Ryan Costa…
Ryan: ‘Unhinged’ Democrats in ‘Panic Mode’
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, tells National Review Online that Democrats are entering a “panic mode” as November approaches. “They are beginning to get a little unhinged,” Ryan says.
From the blog Florida Pundit…
Unhinged Democrats Help Their Opponents: Joy Behar Helps Sharron Angle Defeat Harry Reid
Obama left-wing media activists have become so unhinged that they end up helping the Republican tea party candidates they oppose.
Katie Couric refers to “this great unwashed middle of the country.” Bill Maher rants about the “ignorant, hillbilly part of this country.” He calls voters “too stupid, like a dog.”
Joy Behar on the View loses control talking about Sharron Angle who is on the verge of defeating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada: “This bitch is going to hell.”
And from the progressive blog The People’s View
Glenn Greenwald’s Unhinged Attack on Obama and Democrats
I am beginning to find Glenn Greenwald’s logic seriously twisted and angry with near-zero intellectual prowess. In a column he penned on Salon.com, Greenwald starts by taking on the Charles Krauthammers of the far right, but then in his usual fashion, turns right around and shovels a load of garbage on the Democrats. Richly, Greenwald thinks that Republican racism and xenophobia is “added to” by Democrats who remind minority voters who our friends are.
The word “unhinged” is favorite chestnut of a word for conservatives and some liberals; another example Michelle Malkin’s Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild. Such a word has become part of a template narrative (X person or X group has become unhinged). This week, Fox News host and radio personality Sean Hannity says that he has heard from sources that President Obama is becoming “unhinged.”
As a political spin word, I love it. It’s a word generally designed to re-frame perceived bold actions or emotional moments, like showing disappointment or worry, as a short stepping stone to reaching an unrestrained, dangerous threat. As in “So crazy, I don’t know what they’ll do next (but it won’t be good).”
Why don’t these people just say the president or other liberals or conservatives are crazy? That’s what they are trying to get to, so why not? The reason: burden of proof is too high.
When you say someone is “crazy,” there’s more of a burden of proof required to support that claim and word. If you say, “Bob is crazy,” it demands a follow up. “How is Bob crazy?” Did he pass up a really good deal on a new car…or did he kill someone and nail their innards to his clothes? It’s such a harsh accusation, it demands clarity, which forces the speaker to show an example of crazy. And spin is not about showing real, sobering proof behind a smear.
“Unhinged” doesn’t have the same burden of proof as crazy even though people tend to infer the idea of crazy or out of control from it. That’s because it really a word that communicates the world crazy emotionally than in clear terms. Unhinged uses the subjective standard of evaluating emotional signals of a person more than action.
If Bob eats his family, you can definitely say he’s crazy. If Bob twitches around the house and mutters things under his breath, he could be insane, or he could just be upset the Washington Redskins lost. You can’t say or prove he’s actually crazy. But the words and meaning of “unhinged” is loose and flexible enough to fit both situations. You don’t call him crazy, but most people emotionally hear you saying that he is.
Plus I love the subtext of unhinged; a danger has been let loose. Even when the reality is merely a simple or emotionally felt disagreement. Unhinged, which gives mental pictures of something broken free from its restraints and now able to inflict danger on others at will. As in the case of Sean Hannity’s “scoop” on President Obama, the emotional subtext of what he says seems to suggest that Obama is angry and is becoming the Hulk, “Arrrgh! Barack hate block of START weapons treaty, Barack smash America! Arrrrrrgh!”