"Hypocrisy of Language" Seen as a Threat to Life

Says Catholic Journalist Pier Giorgio Liverani

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ROME, SEPT. 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The twisting of words and their meanings is a key weapon in the arsenal of the purveyors of the culture of death, warns a veteran journalist.

Pier Giorgio Liverani, who for more than half a century was a journalist for the main Italian Catholic newspapers, says that the current attitude that it is up to the individual to construct his own ethic goes hand in hand with «hypocrisy of language» — the immediate effect of which is a risk posed to human life.

A past editor of the newspaper Avvenire and a former member of the episcopate’s Commission for Social Communications, Liverani is now co-editor of Sí alla vita (Yes to Life), a monthly publication of the Italian Pro-Life Movement.

The journalist has witnessed the cultural changes that have given origin to a new conception of man detached from his Creator. He laments those changes and explores the risks they entail, in his latest book, «La Società Multicaotica con il Dizionario dell’Antilingua» (The Multi-Chaotic Society with the Anti-Language Dictionary), published in Italy by Ares.

«At present the confusion of languages, symbolized by ‘anti-language,’ is an indicator of a very serious moral crisis,» Liverani told ZENIT.

To each his own

«For an important part of our culture, there is no longer any absolute truth,» he said. «Everything is relative, each one can devise his own ethic, and the hypocrisy of language covers everything shamefully. …

«Postmodern man, who has decreed the ‘death of God,’ has set himself up as judge of good and evil with the consequence that the primary good, life, is no longer always such.»

As a result, the journalist contended, we «have fallen into radical liberal individualism for which only my life is of worth; that of the other has only a functional value in relation to mine.» Examples of this, he said, are «mass contraception, divorce […], legalized and nationalized abortion, and artificial insemination.»

The «multi-chaotic society» has prompted Liverani to update his «Anti-Language Dictionary,» a sort of lexicon of «words said so as not to say what one is afraid to say.» First published in 1993, it became an analytical tool for pro-lifers and pro-family activists.

«Without words or with identical words but with a different meaning, we will no longer be able to express certain concepts,» Liverani warned. «If I did away with the word ‘mother,’ I myself and others would be hindered from thinking and expressing the relative concept.»


So, «if instead of saying ‘man in the embryonic state’ I use ‘product of conception,’ I would no longer give the concept man at the beginning of his life the value it has; rather, I would express a trivial idea valid also for animals and I would feel free to dispose of that ‘product’ in the same way as any other product of a process,» he said. «If I like it and it is useful to me, I keep it, if not, I throw it away.»

«In the abortion law, instead of the word [abortion], ‘interruption of pregnancy’ is used, especially because this expression with medical overtones does not elicit feelings or emotions,» the journalist added. «While abortion refers to something that affects the conceived child directly, the ‘interruption of the pregnancy’ indicates the modification of a condition of the mother.»

He added: «These are two pale examples of a language that is growing and that has been consolidated in the media, in politics, in medicine and has already transformed people’s culture.»

In fact, the journalist pointed out that in the «culture of death,» words such as «son,» «child,» «mother» and «father» are targets.

«Anti-words distort the meaning of things, reality and human relations,» Liverani said. «If I destroy family relations, which are, above all, relations of free self-giving — that is, of love — I can make of life and of others whatever I like: It is the basic principle of radical individualism and its utilitarian ethic.»

What’s in a name?

Part of the answer to these problems, Liverani contended, is to simply contemplate the names of things.

«The Bible,» he said, «recounts that in the beginning, things did not yet have a name, and that God, in fact, wanted man to ‘give a name’ to things, so that he would know their essence and would place himself, in respect of them, in a relationship of truth.

«Language is God’s invention, anti-language is something demonic.»

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