Gibberish and the Emperor’s new clothes

Whenever I hear the phrase like “innovative, grassroots-driven, decentralized, and empowering campaign” I reach for my gun….

These words were in the site of a supporter for a Massachusetts politician, Deval Patrick, about whom my knowledge is less than or equal to none, except for his having been associated with a plan to get community feedback that somehow put every voter’s personal information online, as far as I can determine from universalhub. Otherwise, he seems OK by US politician standards. (Well, he seems to be a Democrat for a start. It was hard to find anything about his politics in the sites I trawled trying to find out if I was doing the man an injustice here. This blog is nothing if not fair. OK, it’s more like nothing.)

Would people even consider voting for politicians who weren’t surrounded by a fog of cheerful phrases that didn’t have any content? Identifiable ideas might lose votes. Who would be so churlish as to not be in favour of innovation? Grass-roots driven things? Decentralised? Empowering? (Wow, it could have almost come from Paolo Freire, if his actual content hadn’t been sucked out.)

I have just read a well nigh 50-page consultant’s report on the department where I work. It could have been written by the same person. The consultancy fee will have equalled the salary of a couple of peon employees like me. They generated any content there was by consulting employees. Shouldn’t we have got some sort of cut?

The final text was obviously put together with the help of a Gibberish-generating programme, into which they must have fed whole volumes full of phrases like the words above. Then, translated the words into Basque, using Babelfish, retranslated the result into an obscure variant of Icelandic Gibberish and then got Dilbert’s manager to wring out any residual shred of meaning and replace it with phrases about empowerment and core values so upbeat that Ned Flanders would be embarrassed to utter them.

The report may be favourable. Who could tell? No one dares say that it doesn’t mean anything. It’s really the emperor’s new clothes. In pdf format.