There are several phrases used lately by the media, politicians and other commentators that are misleading. Although some of them are of particular interest to conservatives, there are others that are more generally problematic.
“Health care” vs. “health insurance”
The issue of how to pay for health care, as opposed to the providing of health care itself, is being called “health care.” Many of the current issues concerning health are not related to the quality or manner of health care, but are about how to pay for it. The matter of paying for health care is called “health insurance,” not “health care.” Indeed, the United States has the finest health care system in the world, which is evidenced by the fact that many foreigners come to the U.S. for treatment (especially Canadians fleeing their government health care system). Moreover, no one legally may be denied emergency health care because of an inability to pay for it. In short, health care is not the main problem, but health insurance is. There is a point to be made that having health insurance is healthier because it makes one likelier to avail one’s self of health care, but despite any degree of relationship between the two, health care and health insurance are nevertheless two distinct matters. The media is deliberately conflating the two in order to make it appear as if the issue is about providing health care to people who otherwise would not have access to it (Note: the media and others use the code word access to health care in order to mean insurance, in order to imply the right to receive health care; thus, when they advocate for government health insurance, they refer to government health care misleadingly as "access to health care," as if the lack of health insurance necessarily equals a lack of access to health care).
Furthermore, the media and other commentators are wrong when they describe those who do not have health insurance as individuals “who cannot afford health care” or even “health insurance.” As noted, emergency health care is free, but even referring to people without health insurance as those who are “unable to afford it” is not necessarily correct, as many are wealthy people who do not need health insurance because they can afford to pay for their health care or others (like the Amish) who not believe in it. Many others are simply between jobs, and the most are healthy young people who exercise the choice not to purchase health insurance after calculating that the benefit of having it is not worth the cost, even if they could afford it.
“Technically at war” vs. “legally at war”
The media often describes North and South Korea as still “technically at war,” as if they have been at peace since the 1953 Armistice, except only for the legal formality of not having concluded a peace treaty. The term “technically” is misleading because it appears to reduce the situation to a mere technicality, that is to say, one that implies that the opposite is true (in this case, it falsely implies that they really are enjoying peace), instead of accurately reflecting reality. What the media means to say is that the two Koreas are still “legally at war,” meaning that they are effectively only in a truce, not at peace. However, it has been a shaky truce, one that has been violated often. Indeed, the two Koreas have been effectively in a continuous state of war since the signing of the Armistice – albeit sporadically or at a relatively low level – which has caused several hundred fatalities, including many Americans. Referring to the Koreas as "technically at war" minimizes the threat from North Korea, which has frequently violated the Armistice and even engaged in terrorism. Now that North Korea has renounced the Armistice, it will be interesting to see how the media explains the state of war without even any legal truce that exists between the two Koreas, regardless of whether any more combat occurs.
“Abortion rights” vs. “the [supposed] right to an abortion”
Without examining the issue of whether abortion is a right in the first place -- which it is not --even if it were, it would be one right, not a plural amount of “rights.” There is either a "right to an abortion," as to any other medical procedure, or there is not, but there are not multiple rights associated with abortion. A supposed "right to abortion" is not like “property rights,” which include a bundle of specific rights (the right to buy, the right to sell, the right to lease, etc.). It is one right, if it were a right at all. The media is referring to "abortion rights" in order to make the concept of a right to an abortion seem even more acceptable by implying that it is based upon multiple rights.
“Homicide attack” vs. “suicide attack”
Some in the media have adopted the practice of referring to terrorist attacks carried out by suicide attackers as “homicide attacks” or “homicide bombings,” etc. Although their intention to take the focus of the attack from the terrorist and place it on the victims is good, the term is misleading because it reduces clarity. All terrorist attacks that cause fatalities, whether they are carried out by suicide attackers or not, are homicidal, whereas only those specific attacks carried out by suicide attackers are “suicide attacks.” Referring to all attacks as “homicide attacks,” therefore, loses the distinction between the general kind and the specific kind of attack.
On a related note, the media has adopted the practice of referring to the Taliban, at times, as “militants,” instead of referring to them as “Taliban militants.” Leaving aside the issue of whether it as appropriate to refer to terrorist sponsors like the Taliban as “militants” just because they engage in lawful combat in addition to sponsoring unlawful combat, the point is that when the media refers to combat fatalities in Afghanistan, its reference to the deaths of “militants,” a term general enough to include presumably even American allies, fails to express clearly that the Taliban are the ones suffering most of the fatalities. Instead, the general term “militants” allows the media to continue its narrative that the United States has been losing the war in Afghanistan, the evidence for which they cite being the increase in combat fatalities, especially of “militants,” even though it is the Taliban who have suffered the overwhelming majority of the fatalities. In other words -- in a shocking twist of the facts -- the fact that the Taliban enemy is killed by the dozens every week, while the U.S. and its allies suffer relatively few fatalities, is used by the media as propaganda for the notion that the Taliban is winning the war in Afghanistan because the media uses the total number of combat fatalities in Afghanistan as evidence that the U.S. is losing the war!
We conservatives, as well as anyone else concerned about accuracy, should avoid these misleading phrases.
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