A few days ago I heard Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid being interviewed as she lowered the boom on Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus. I lost count of how many times the Minister said “moving forward” or “as we move forward”, or similar such oft-repeated and painfully meaningless expressions. No wonder she wants to cut funding to education, she doesn’t know what it is.

A while back I attended a couple of so-called “stakeholder” so-called “workshops” regarding the Broadway corridor rapid transit “study”. “Moving forward” was the much-favoured expression of the generously paid consultants who “conducted” the “workshop”. Pardon my cynical overuse of quotation marks, but it’s hard to take anything these people say or do seriously. Well, I do believe that one should seriously regard with suspicion everything they say or do. I imagine that, like Minister MacDiarmid, they have agenda of their own and engage in these “consultations” as window-dressing designed to hoodwink an unsuspecting public. Not that they do this by malicious design; that’s just the way they think. Give me good old malice any day.

You’ll recall that the Minister sent B.C.’s Comptroller General Cheryl Wenezenski-Yolland—an employee of the government, by the way—to peruse the books of the Vancouver School Board with the purpose of finding various accounting peccadilloes and spending extravagances. Of course, she found them. One could hardly expect that she would come up with conclusions that would disagree with her employer’s position. Minister MacDiarmid, I couldn’t help notice, was careful to pronounce the “mpt” in Ms. Wenesenski-Yolland’s title. Moving forward, indeed! Check your dictionary, honey, if you have one.

But I digress. Not without, however, noting that Ms. Bacchus did not once utter the M-F words. I intended to comment on hideously overused and meaningless epithets, like that one, so beloved by politicians that they can scarcely utter a sentence without it.

But what about, “Market fresh” or “Personal touch banking”. I’m sure you know a lot more like these. Whom do they think they’re kidding?

Back in the 1940s, when a few of us budding intellectuals embraced General Semantics, we called terms like these “purr-words” because, like a cat’s purring, they sounded very pleasant and comforting and held little or no meaning. At least we could pretty well understand that the purring pussy was contented; purr-words are supposed to make us feel similarly cozy, knowing that we are lovingly stroked and well fed by our corporate masters.

Don’t get me started on “closure” or “this point in time” or people who say “myself” when they mean “me”. A good dose of Strunk and White at bedtime, and don’t call me in the morning!

Hmmmm. I think I’ll trade in my ATM for a friendly tabby. At least the give-and-take between us will be honest and without equivocation. There’s a lot we can learn from our pets. Uh oh, I forgot, “animal companions”.

About tdurrie

An aging radical with thoughts about society, education, arts, politics, and food.
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6 Responses to MXVXNG FXRWXRD

  1. Wool hoo. Right on, Tom.

    If only the VSB and our crazy government really were moving forward. Unfortunately, they are not.

  2. Seth McDonough says:

    Thank you, Tom:

    A very sharp and funny tirade, as always. Even though I, myself, (or should I say, “I, me,”?) don’t always align with you in the education debate, you left me “lol”ing with your teasing of “purr-words” (would you consider adding “dialoguing” and “empowering” to your list?). I especially enjoyed your explanation that, “we called terms like these ‘purr-words’ because, like a cat’s purring, they sounded very pleasant and comforting and held little or no meaning.” Yes! Thank you.


  3. Vanessa Mac says:

    I loved this post, Tom (especially the part about purr-words). I might start sing that expression, if you don’t mind?
    One of my “pet peeves” is when people use the word “uncomfortable” as an excuse to not do something. If we never have to do anything uncomfortable, then who will? Sheesh!

  4. Vanessa Mac says:

    I loved this rant, Tom. (especially the part about “purr-words”). I may even start using this expression myslef. My “pet peeve” is when people use the word “uncomfortable” as an excuse to do something they don’t want to do. Sheesh…sometimes one has to do nasty things that one would prefer not to, but that doesn’t mean they are not worth doing.

    • Vanessa Mac says:

      For some reason I thought my first reply did not post so I typed it again & now its there twice. How uncomfortable for me!

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