Home > Uncategorized > “Hardening Schools”: An Example of Orwell’s “Naming Things Without Calling up Mental Pictures of Them.”

“Hardening Schools”: An Example of Orwell’s “Naming Things Without Calling up Mental Pictures of Them.”

August 13, 2018

Over the past several months I’ve read several stories on the need to “harden” schools. Yesterday, I read a Truthdig article by Loveday Morris, Hazem Balousha, and Ruth Eglash on the inappropriate use of the word “clash” when one side has a clear and decided advantage over another, as has been the case in several “clashes” in the Middle East. In the article, the writers cited a quote from George Orwell:

“Clash” is a reporter’s best friend when they want to describe violence without offending anyone in power—in the words of George Orwell, “to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.”

On the heels of reading yesterday’s story in the New York Times, it struck me that our use of the phrase “hardening public schools” is the reporter’s best friend when they want to describe the de facto incarceration of children without offending parents, voters, and the politicians who use that phrase. After all, would anyone support the “solution” to the school shooting problem if it was was presented as

  • enclosing schools with razor-wire fences that can only be entered through checkpoints overseen by armed guards,
  • monitoring the behavior of students with surveillance cameras,
  • providing teachers with concealed weapons, and
  • having children engage in periodic drills designed to frighten them into submission should a shooter somehow get through the impenetrable fortress that constitutes a “hardened school”

“Hardened schools” fails to conjure up a mental picture… for if it did, no one would support it.

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