I recently was called upon by JW?s at my door and given the brochure ?Keep on the Watch? ? I posted about it last week, the very nice JW lady with the novel take on ?How Close the End is, with Special Reference to How Many Bible Pages I am Holding Between my Fingers?.
I?ve become aware from reading posts here that this pamphlet is not like a regular magazine, but is a special campaign brochure. Yet another ?special campaign? to try to drum up some enthusiasm and get some extra effort from the poor exhausted flock.
My mind takes me back to the ?special leaflet campaigns? we had in the mid-seventies, anyone remember those? In particular I remember a comment regarding this ?special work? which was made by our CO at the time. It got me thinking about how the Society is absolutely masterful in its usage of loaded language.
So, the CO is standing on the platform, reminding us how important this work is, given the urgency of the times etc. etc. He goes on to explain that we will not simply be dropping these leaflets through letter-boxes, oh no! - we will be calling on the householder, making personal contact, explaining what we are about, and then handing the precious gems of spiritual nourishment to them personally. This was important:
?Brothers,? he said ? we are not going to be promiscuous with this life-saving literature! Everyone must be handed his copy personally.?
This hit me like a ton of bricks. Promiscuous? PROMISCUOUS? Where the hell did that come from? Promiscuous?
You see, just the previous week on the platform in the Service Meeting we were being encouraged that ?? a good way to get the message out to people is to leave old copies of the magazines through the doors of not-at-homes. You never know who might read them and come into the Truth [cue: some made-up experience illustrating exactly that] - and it?s much better than simply letting them lie around at home in useless piles? - but now such largesse with the literature is ? promiscuous?.
I almost laughed out loud, it seemed such an outlandish, over-the-top usage of a word to get his point across. But it certainly had its effect. After the meeting, chatting with our Book Study Conductor (Ted, I?ve mentioned him before, loads of times), well, he was really enthusiastic and fired-up about the whole thing:
?Duncan , it?s wonderful, isn?t it? You can really see how close we are now! And we won?t just be throwing these away like litter! It?s not like we?re leaflet deliverers? (at that moment, in his voice, you could hear that leaflet deliverers were truly, absolutely, the lowest form of life on the planet) ? this is a wonderful privilege, Duncan, why, we might even one day learn all about what Bible prophecy we?re fulfilling in doing this!?
I?m pretty sure that, if I?d asked him, Ted couldn?t have quoted back the exact words that the CO had said used in explaining the work. It was enough that the CO?s choice of words - even if the words themselves were instantly forgotten - had impressed upon his listeners the desired effect. Dropping through letter-boxes ? Wrong! Handing them out personally ? Right! Why, just delivering them, that would be - well - disrespectful, wasteful; dirty even. Yup, it would be : promiscuous!
An object lesson in the judicious use of Loaded Language.
Thinking further on the same lines ? how about the Watchtower?s use of the word ?Youth??
I might be entirely wrong, but my memory-impression is that ?youth? was overwhelmingly a negative word. Within the Organisation we might have had ?Young People? but the world had ?youths.? Despite the fact that there were some scriptures that basically talked about worshipping Jehovah in your youth, or whatever, it did seem to me that in the literature ?youth? was always associated with the word ?rebellious?.
I remember reading a little Watching the World news snippet in the Awake! magazine that described some crazy, drug-fuelled crime committed by a 26 year old man in the states, who was described in the magazine as a ?youth?. We had an Elder in our congregation only 2 years older than that. From ?youth to ?elder? in 2 short years - the power of Loaded Language.
Another example springs to mind: Is it just me and my memory, or was it the case that whenever the Society mentioned sexual disease, it would be preceded by the word ?loathsome?? Now, I realise that a venereal disease is unlikely to be described by anyone as ?pleasant? or ?wholesome? but it does seem to me that the Society was simply relentless in the way they associated the phrase ?sexual disease? with the word ?loathsome?. Perhaps it?s possible with CD-ROM technology to do some sort of comparison.
I realise that this is not in the slightest a new, original observation. The society has been manipulating its readership for well over 100 years with all kinds of loaded language designed to get the response it desires - appeals to ?right-hearted persons?, references to ?true Christians? and ?spiritually mature ones?, the absolute demonisation of any they call ?apostates?, all this has been commented on many times before.
But it?s always instructive, and fun, to point it out. Perhaps some ?mature ones? here on JWD, or indeed some of our ?young people? might like to offer some of their own examples of this kind of thing.
But no youths! No promiscuous or rebellious apostates, please!