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US Violence Breeds a Language of the Grotesque


US Violence Breeds a Language of the Grotesque

Christian Christensen

Another week, another series of school and university shootings in the US, and another chance to hear phrases such as "active shooter" and "campus lockdown" repeated over and over by police, school administrators and journalists.


Thank you, Mr. Christensen for exposing the degree to which language is falling prey to the Mars Rules disease that’s infected much of America.

I would add to the following at least 5 other components that are VERY much a part of the picture:

“Residents of the US have been engaged in numerous wars over the years: the War on Drugs, the War on Crime and the War on Terror (to take but three examples). As these terms are sexy and emotive, the media were more than willing to latch on to them.”

There is:

A war on women and their rights to sovereignty over their own bodies

A war on Blacks as seen in the banal way that so many are shot down by neighborhood “peace keepers.”

A war on Mexican Americans… ripping families apart, subjecting hundreds, if not thousands to border control human guard dogs, and holding them in contempt for what rich men used NAFTA to create

A war on nature… as brutally evidenced by the coal industry’s mountain top blast offs, the fracking industry’s earth penetrating-rape technologies, and Monsanto’s poisoning and genetically maiming of so much of the natural world.

A war on Cancer: excuse for not shifting the toxic chemical causes behind this epidemic


“War is a black-and-white thing. It is Good versus Evil. You are against the War on Drugs? Then you support drug dealers. You are critical of the War on Terror? Then you side with radical, anti-democratic extremists. Even our policies had titles that made them impossible to oppose. You are against the Patriot Act? Well, you know what that means.”

The above quotes explain why I have described several C.D. posters as soldier boys and girls. It’s because they are conditioned to this sort of linear, bifurcated frame. In the many instances where I outlined the HIERARCHY of power and how those with little cannot be compared with those with much; they took THAT frame and reconfigured it to conform to their own: That of “either-or” rigidity. One is either responsible (for their nation’s sins) or they are not… as if there was nothing more to the calculus than this simplistic A or B equation.

It’s misleading.

This frame allots equal power to the corporation using its fiscal muscle to direct national energy policy with that of the person driving 20 miles to work.

This frame allots equal power (and responsibility) between the generals writing the war scripts and those with NO say in the matter (inasmuch as this nation IS a subsidiary of the MIC and the corporate entities it works to protect).

This frame allots equal power between Monsanto and its control of Food Policy with the individual who still eats meat.

And so on.


Excellent point and a very important topic about which very little is being written. In fact this topic is not limited to the militaristic language or to the euphemisms used to sanitize murders such as (neutralize vs kill or mass shooting vs massacre etc). I think this is a much larger topic that involves all facets of society - the systemic use of deceptive language. It is typical of controlled societies.


“What we have witnessed over the past decade in the US is a perverse switch: Everyday life is now saturated with the aggressive language of warfare, while the lords of war have absorbed the language of the everyday in an attempt to manage and sanitize our image. As the US struggles to come to terms with an epidemic of mass shootings, one place to begin is the rejection of any language that resigns us to accepting the inevitability and normalcy of violence; and, in addition, any language that, in a cynical, Orwellian fashion, airbrushes the victims of aggression from our national history.”

Thank you for mentioning this phenomena, Mr. Christensen. I would add that another facet of this war verbiage is inciting terms like “us,” and “we,” and “Americans” as if citizens are nothing more than soldier-equivalents who all hold the same pro-war views and root for the same team. Indeed, the war state is a natural product of a sports-indoctrinated culture that has millions of persons (the majority of them, males) so totally identified with their favorite football or baseball team as to barely regard the world’s conditions outside of this prism.

It’s all part of the same Mars Rules conditioning.

But these uniform frames do not speak for the millions who have climbed over the Cuckoo’s Nest the warriors built. These frames purposely make any counterviews invisible.

As in keeping with the ethos of Mars, the warrior, to this barbaric archetype, the following qualify as His Ethos:

  1. Might makes right

  2. To the victor, go the spoils

  3. You are either with us or against us

  4. There is no society

  5. It’s a dog eat dog world

  6. What the dominator (dominant user of force) decrees is what others will follow

And of course, to the victor, goes the control of narrative

“in addition, any language that, in a cynical, Orwellian fashion, airbrushes the victims of aggression from our national history.”

It also air brushes out the proponents of peace and those who oppose war!


George Carlin: I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth. So they invent the kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I’ll give you an example of that. There’s a condition in combat, most people know about it, it’s when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to its absolute peak and maximum, can’t take any more input. The nervous system has either
[clicks his tounge]
George Carlin: snapped, or is about to snap. In the first World War, that condition was called “shell shock.” Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables. Shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by, and the second World War came along. And the very same combat condition was called “battle fatigue.” Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say, doesn’t seem to hurt as much. “Fatigue” is a nicer word than “shock.” Shell shock. Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea in 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time. And the very same combat condition was called “operational exhaustion.”
George Carlin: Hey, we’re up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been completely squeezed out of the phrase, it’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion, sounds like something that might happen to your car!
George Carlin: Then, of course, came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years. And thanks to the lies and deceit surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called “post-traumatic stress disorder.”
George Carlin: Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. “Post-traumatic stress disorder.” I’ll bet you if we’d have still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I’ll bet you that.
George Carlin: I’ll bet you that.


It’s really nine syllables,


And I would add, A war on truth…in the various forms so predominant in that “Mars Rules” culture. Call it “manufactured consent” through the dominance of corporate servicing spin in MSM, conjured up “truths” via D.C. beltway think tanks and their tentacles attached to that MSM, rise of the insidious “balance” ethos within the schools of “journalism” that follow the trend that is characterized by Greenwald as “Foxification” of MSM news reporting, the demise of independent war reporting journalists under protection of international law replaced by the embedded “journalist”, and most significantly the great untruth now completely culturally embedded in the broadest scope possible, the “virtue” of not questioning the most seminal event of our time which was the deliverable cultural product by the designers of that “shock and awe” sledgehammer.


The genesis of this “mars Rules” society goes right back to the founding of the USA and the years before as a colony of the British Empire.

No sooner were the colonists landing then people were preaching manifest destiny and the “God Given Rights” of the Anglo_saxons to the Americas. The First Nations peoples to be exterminated to make way for a more deserving race, slaves imported to work on Plantations,

Even as the First nations peoples were called ruthless savages these Colonists were burning down their villages, destroying their food crops and spreading small pox ridden blankets to them as “peace offerings”. Then came the Revolution , another act of violence where so attached were the leaders to Violence as a tool of change they decided to put the second amendment in the Bill of Rights.

In The War of 1812 against Britain the war was going badly for the US against Britain. A recruiter was sent to the newly settled Kentucky territories and used as inducement the promise that any who joined in the war would “get to kill Indians”. The peoples of Kentucky were under no threat from Britain , there was no need to have to embrace violence in order to defend their lands but an inducement “to kill Indians” was all that was needed to get men to join in on the War and head north.

Then came Mexico and “Remember the Alamo” and Spain and “Remember the Maine” and Pearl Harbor and 9/11 and along with this the scribes who were called “Historians” recording all that happened using Myth rather then fact as all that the Country called the USA was deemed a blessed and Noble cause.

It these myths that are so ingrained in the society as a whole that have chained the country to Violence and as SR suggests The Rule Of mars. To get rid of "mars Rules’ Those myths must be discarded starting with the myth of “the Founding Fathers”. Those founding fathers were white rich men of power just as it is today.


I appreciate the article and agree with the ideas presented however I feel compelled to bring to the author’s attention the fact that the image used in the piece is attributed to an organization that promotes guns. A little ironic, no?


It depends on what part of the country you come from. I count eight, unless you divide tion into two syllables, which you might if you come from the Northeast Coast. :wink:


Great article Mr Christensen. I think we should start to catch ourselves whenever we use this grotesque language.

I would begin by going beck to the old name for the “Defense Department”, “the War Department”.
Also change:
“earnings” back to “profits”,
“investing” to “gambling”,
“harvesting” wildlife to “killing” wildlife,
“spreading democracy” to “invading countries”,
“religion” to “superstition”,
“Republicans” to “fascists”,
“Democrats” to “neoliberals”,
“conservatives” to “regressives”,
“Climate change” to “Global Warming”,
“representative government” to “oligarchy”,
“mainstream media” to “mainstream propaganda”,
“commercials” to “brainwashing”,
“hedge fund managers” to “rich criminals”,
“The Federal Reserve” to “The Mafia”,
“popular elections” to “private selections”
“public representatives” to “oligarchy puppets”
“exceptional nation” to “empire”
“Oligarchy” to “Mammon”
“Oligarchy money” to “the devil’s dung”
“The Supreme Court” to “The Satanic Court”
“patriot” to “chickenhawk”
“the police” to “the enemy”
“economists” to “witch doctors”
go nuts…


I agree that this was a good article, and I also agree that we should catch ourselves when we use the phrases above.

Guns are far too accessible here in the United States, and too many people who really have no business having access to guns in the first place end up getting them, which makes an already-dangerous situation far worse, if one gets the drift.


People that know guns and how to use them safely like the police and the military don’t usually shoot each other although they are armed to the teeth.

Accidental shooting like this one have their own reasons. But school shootings and assaults have a different reason. Usually the victims can’t see the weapon until its too late.

Something that could be acceptable to both sides of the gun issue is to ban concealed carry and legalize open carry so that anyone can see who is packing and take defensive measures.


I see the point about banning concealed carrying of guns, but I don’t see the point of allowing open carrying of guns, either, because that would bring about even more shootings. I’d hate to think of the day when people are allowed to carry guns into movie theatres, museums, churches, etc. That would spell disaster, since any dispute would be more than likely end up as a maiming or killing of another citizen.

Banning assault weapons is a good step in the opposite directions, but there should also be more extensive background checks and enforced waiting periods, regarding handguns. Gun manufacturers should be required to implement locks to prevent unauthorized use of a firearms in the event that it’s lost or stolen, and Congress should close that loophole which encourages illegal sales of guns at gun shows, plus rogue gun dealers should be forced out of business altogether.


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What I wrote applies to your argument. Police and the military know about gun safety and don’t normally shoot each other. My argument was more of a negotiation that could be acceptable to both sides of the gun issue. Your argument has not shown to be acceptable to both sides.

Gun safety concerns both sides of the gun issue however. I think that perhaps both sides would be willing to accept that every gun owner should go through a gun safety course, just as every driver needs to go through drivers training.


I have consciously been deleting militaristic words from my vocabulary for decades. Here is an essay which addresses how easily they are introduced into every day life and our subconscious meme pool.


I regularly look forward to your comments. You are brilliant. Thanks.


I’m not at all opposed to increased gun regulation if it will help reduce gun violence though I have my doubts as to whether or not it will. That is because IMHO it is a secondary solution to the problem with the problem being caused by the things discussed in the article which we seem to not to be able to address. As long as we as a nation continue to expand our empire through using violent war do not expect any reduction in gun crime or a change in the American psyche.