Monday, January 17, 2005

Ok, one more time, "Disenfranchisement" means what?

Back in October I spent a post or two talking about the myth and misunderstanding of the word "disenfranchised."

This past Friday, James Taranto informed us that the problematic usage of this word has reached down to Georgia:
"For the first time since 1975, the Georgia House of Representatives has no African-Americans who serve as committee chairmen," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus--all Democrats--said Wednesday they had been disenfranchised. Black House members noted that in the Republican-controlled Senate, two African-American Democrats were given committee chairmanships.

It would be a good "Note to everyone ever" to say: "Hey you, stop using the word 'Disenfranchised' as well as any variation thereof because you probably can't do it correctly. At all. Ever. So please, just stop."

However, if they did stop then we would get to read these great, vocabulary building paragraphs from Taranto on the subject:
"Disenfranchisement" actually means being denied the vote, but Democrats of late have started using it as a dysphemism for "losing." There's no disfranchisement in the Georgia House; it is normal in American legislative bodies for the majority party to hold committee chairmanships.

The problem here is the political isolation of black Americans, who overwhelmingly vote for the minority party. There's an easy way for members of Georgia's Legislative Black Caucus to have a chance at chairing committees: by changing their party affiliation.

First, I have to give Taranto credit for forcing me to look up "dysphemism" so that I could properly fold it into my vocabulary, then I have to acknowledge that he is absolutely right.
Democrats don't want to lose, and so they want to find a way out of it by accusing someone else of "disenfranchising" them even when no voting is involved. The Black Caucus continues to support the Democrats for reasons I'll never understand...and African American voters continue to support Democrats for more reasons I don't understand. I think vaguely it has something to do with FDR, but that was years ago, let's catch up. Either that, or let's go back further to the Republican who risked his life for the freedom of all - Abraham Lincoln.