Medieval painting of the William the Bastard, aka the Conqueror‘Compulsive Euphemism’ by Joseph S. Salemi The Society August 7, 2019 Culture, Humor, Poetry 12 Comments From A Gallery of Ethopaths Ethopaths fear, as much as cancer, A straight, unvarnished, simple answer. They love the euphemistic chatter That clouds up an essential matter. Seeing things clearly and addressing Their substance with no elaborate dressing Strikes ethopaths as plain immoral. They’d rather take a dose of chloral Than state the facts in simple fashion. In fact, they have an ingrained passion For phrasing that obscures and covers, And this is why their language suffers: Circumlocution leads to blunder That tears one’s sound and sense asunder, Or else makes speech as gauche and clunky As that of a State Department flunky. They talk of the undeveloped nations When they mean wastes and desolations; Putting taxpayers through the screws Is called enhancing revenues; They speak of an out-of-wedlock child When bastard is how he should be styled. They’ll term the stride of Stephen Hawking As muscularly challenged walking— A euphemism most elastic: Back in the past he was a spastic. Having a cigarette and whiskey Is substance abuse, and far too risky To merit much more than stern rebuke. Such prissiness can make one puke. Sometimes they dress up outright lies In an upscale and chic disguise Meaning, when they say World Opinion, The New York Times and its smug minyan Of inbred editorial hacks And pompous governmental flacks. They clamor for language that’s inclusive When they mean censorship’s intrusive Finger in how you choose each pronoun. It’s hard to obtain the simple low-down On just what an ethopath is saying. His words are a kind of crypto-praying Where discourse is like a charm or spell Keeping one safe in a verbal shell Away from the brutish world of fact, Unmanageable save by discreet tact. Besides such gaseous obfuscation Ethopaths turn all conversation Into a surreptitious pleading For things that they think the world is needing. Statements by ethopathic vermin Always contain a coded sermon Telling one how one ought to think. Language for them is just a link In their relentless urge to lecture, And you can tell the verbal texture Of every ethopathic speech— They all advise, prescribe, and preach. Old Petrarch said the eyes revealed That which the soul would keep concealed. With ethopaths, it’s the wagging tongue That shows the stuff from which they’re spun. Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide. He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria and writes for Expansive Poetry On-line. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 12 Responses Leo Zoutewelle August 7, 2019 I stand in awe! Reply James Sale August 7, 2019 Brilliant satire. Reply C.B. Anderson August 7, 2019 James, you’re damn right that this is brilliant satire, and I have found that satire works best when it exposes bald truth. One thing I have learned in my long acquaintance with J.S.S. is that he never pulls his punches. Reply David Paul Behrens August 7, 2019 Truer words are seldom spoken. Reply Paul August 7, 2019 Touché. But can’t this at times also apply to [some] academics? Reply C.B. Anderson August 7, 2019 Paul, it was unclear, in the manner of this format, to whom your comment was directed. But J.S.S. has often criticized the academic establishment for its corrupt adherence to politically correct orthodoxies. Reply Paul August 8, 2019 Hi C.B. – I was addressing anyone – and wondering if others felt the same way. I’ve also seen intentional obfuscation in academic writing – that I feel should be as clear as possible. It feels like a betrayal of the goal of trying to understand and effectively convey. Jan Darling August 7, 2019 The best read I’ve had since you last stirred the literary WOKE pot. Hugely enjoyable, thank you, Sir. Reply Joe Tessitore August 8, 2019 We are engaged in an uncivil war. Our enemy now declares that we are white supremacists for supporting the President. Who can say how we “should” respond? And who else can write poetry like this? Certainly not me. Reply David Watt August 8, 2019 You’ve hit the nail on the head, and stylishly hammered it home. Reply Sally Cook August 8, 2019 Dear Joe – My comment for some reason apparently did not take. To reiterate, as always, you teach us by example! Wish the universities in which you teach would wake up and realize the value of your inspired teaching and the quality of your work. Reply Rod Walford August 8, 2019 It’s all truth – and very well expressed! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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