A Heinous Misuse of Words
What is with the left’s choice and use of words? Do they expand and add to vocabulary definitions purposefully or are they just not careful with their selections? I try not to let the little stuff get to me but I’m not sure this is actually little stuff. Words and their definitions are important. Language can be used to bless and to curse. To manipulate and move. To build up or tear down. So, especially, as a writer, I find myself beyond irked when I see words tossed out carelessly. The latest case in point is is the reaction that Aaron Lewis’ latest song has garnered.
I only heard the song for the first time last night. This was the first time I had heard of Aaron Lewis, as well, though I, of course, had heard of Staind. My husband played the song for me and I kind of liked it. Then he told me that the song was making liberals crazy and that one music blogger went so far as to call it heinous. I listened to the song again, this time for elements that could be considered “utterly odious or wicked” as the definition of heinous would imply. I couldn’t find any. Maybe someone could enlighten me. This irritated me enough that I decided to dig in a bit. I googled Aaron Lewis’ name and the name of his song. The first article I see is from Vice titled, “The Guy From Staind is an Alt-Right Darling Now and His Label Loves It.” So, now I have to look up alt-right. I mean, I know that anyone outspoken and who the left disagrees with earns themselves this label but still. So, I find: “in the US) a right-wing ideological movement characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate provocative content, often expressing opposition to racial, religious, or gender equality.” I can get on board with the notion that the people they give this label to reject mainstream politics. Sort of; but when I think of who makes the list and I try and match those people to expressions of opposition towards equality I can’t make the connection. Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro? A Black woman and a Jewish man? I’m not saying that the alt-right doesn’t exist or that its members aren’t racists but the problem is when you throw people into a category like this and it doesn’t fit you end up diminishing the meaning of the title of the category. Reserve it for the actual racists.
I don’t know what Aaron Lewis has done to make him an ‘alt-right darling’ but I’m disinclined to believe that he is based on the other personalities placed on the list. Drew Schwartz writes in his Vice article that Lewis’ song may “as well be called ‘Fuck the Libs.’” Schwartz follows this with the statement that, “You’ll learn pretty much everything you need to know about it from this one lyric:
‘Are you tellin’ me / That I’m the only one willin’ to fight / For my love of the red and white / And the blue, burnin’ on the ground / Another statue comin’ down / In a town near you.’”
…..Um. That equates to fuck the libs? Am I missing something? Schwartz then quotes the music blogger Bob Lefsetz’ whose take on the song was that, “It’s HEINOUS!” and insisted that the CEO of the music label who took Aaron Lewis on should drop him. Because free speech is bad. I guess.
Still perplexed by these reactions, I kept reading. Variety had an article titled, “Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta Defends Promoting Aaron Lewis’ Liberal-Bashing, Fox-Baiting Country Song.” The author, Chris Willman, states that the single “trashes Bruce Springsteen and avows support for Confederate statues.” The lyric Willman is referring to as trashing Springsteen says, “Am I the only one who quits singin’ along / Every time they play a Springsteen song?” That’s considered trashing someone? Maybe dissing but trashing? Really? The line that equates to avowing support for Confederate statues is the one I referenced earlier. Later Willman states that Lewis is advocating for keeping Confederate statues. These seem like rather long jumps to me. Pointing out that statues have been torn down while making an obvious point about where we’re at as a country in how we handle our opinions and disagreements is not the same as a call to keep these statues standing. Maybe that is what Lewis would like. Maybe he, actually, supports the Confederacy and its flag. I don’t know. I don’t think you can make that assumption on what he says in the lyrics. Could I also point out that plenty of statues were pulled down that were not Confederate statues. George Washington. Abraham Lincoln. Theodore Roosevelt. The point isn’t whether any of these statues, Confederate or otherwise, deserve to remain standing or not. The point is that using words and phrases like, avows support and advocating keeping are deliberately assumptive and accusatory. It’s also a willful misinterpretation of the subject matter. A willful refusal to even understand that your article is an example of the very thing the singer is singing about and an example of why the song appeals to people.
Interestingly, Willman describes Lefsetz’ rant against the song which not only calls it heinous but calls Lewis a right-wing wanker as a ‘take-down.’ So the song is an example of bashing and a big fuck you to liberals but when the artist is called names that’s just a take-down? He also quotes Rick Sorkin who implies that this song or songs like it may inspire ’the next homegrown Republican terrorist attack (or the one after that) based on mis-and disinformation.” Seriously, read the lyrics and tell me what about these lyrics qualifies as misinformation and what would inspire a loon to commit a terrorist attack. The logical connection being that country music listeners are so stupid that any solidarity expressed will no doubt give them the courage to shoot places up? Does this apply then to rap music? Is it responsible for rape and sexual assault? No? Oh, I see. The left make the rules. What seems arbitrary isn’t. It’s simply what they like and don’t like that’s either deemed okay or not okay or rather heinous or not.
Read the lyrics. Listen to the song. Does it strike you as belligerent? Hostile and aggressive? Do those on either side of the aisle really hear things so differently? What’s funny is that a lot of Aaron Lewis’ songs prior to this one actually could be considered antagonistic and hostile so I don’t quite understand what it is about this one that’s getting to them so much? The only thing I can figure is the fact that this one gained rapid popularity. Or, maybe, it bothers them that the singer changed. They didn’t expect that one day he would take this type of stand? Espouse beliefs contrary to theirs so they feel betrayed? Tricked? I’m having to guess because, logically, the reaction seems extreme. And I care less about either the message of the song or the response from those perpetually offended than I do about how language has been manipulated and wrongly used in the responses.
Bashing, trashing, alt-right, heinous, disinformation, belligerent. Ugh. Can’t you say you don’t like something in an honest manner? What exactly is it you don’t like? Be specific. Be clear. Don’t attach words that could just as easily be used to describe a murder or a rape or even a genocide to a damn country song that simply gives expression to a worldview you don’t approve of.