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Does This Mean We Have To Elect A New Benson-Pope?

Does This Mean We Have To Elect A New Benson-Pope?

By Lyndon Hood

During the last week, pressure from the opposition in Parliament unveiled the depravity of the current Government. Not merely in the perfidy of one Cabinet Minister, but also the manner in which he was supported at the highest levels. I submit that, in repeatedly using the word "refute" as if it meant "deny", the Labour-Progressive coalition has forfeited the moral right to govern.

As we all know, the Concise Oxford Dictionary (6th Edition) defines "refute" as "Prove falsity or error of (statement, opinion, argument, person advancing it), rebut or repel by argument." We note the requirement for proof or credible counter-argument.

Since the dictionary has it thus, the word should never be permitted to be used in any other manner. Any abuse is to be viewed with the highest alarm and, where possible, punished.

The Honourable Mr Benson-Pope's bald assertion the he refuted some particular allegations (I do not recall their precise nature) were accompanied by no such counter-argument. No, not even one of the standard of Dr Samuel Johnson's response to Bishop Berkeley's theory of the non-existence of matter, when, crying "I refute it thus!", he kicked a rock.

If I were inclined to risk accusations of frivolousness, I might speculate that, deprived last year of his position as "Senior Labour Party Whip", Mr Benson-Pope now feels obliged to do violence to our Language instead.

When such an abuse of the Queen's English occurs in the House of Parliament, the very heart of our culture, the forfeiture of all cabinet posts seems a scant punishment indeed.

Standards of education have clearly slipped. I blame abolition of corporal punishment.

While I have been aware of this particular form of linguistic infamy for some time, I had hoped those representing us in this nation's highest offices would resist it (I speak of course of hierarchical rather than vertical height).

But in these dark days thorough knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary in our representatives has waned. Instead we have this misguided desire for 'strong' and 'charismatic' leadership. Much has been lost thereby.

But thankfully, there is as yet no call for leaders chosen solely for their ability to carefully consider issues in the light of history and reason before taking action, even at the expense of displaying weakness or doubt. In such a fiendish regime, syntactical punctiliousness could, difficult though it is to imagine, have no particular importance.

Some people will perhap insist that times have changed. No doubt they will tell me that I am "in refutal".

Truth, however, remains truth and, even until the heat-death of the universe, to call denying something "refuting" it will be to turn one's back on the light of reason and invite pandemonium.


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