As I follow the ongoing furor over the Access to Information Act, I’m wondering why our government didn’t just come right out and call it what it really is: the Provincial Secrets Act.
Every organization has its secrets.
Western civilization would undoubtedly have collapsed without Colonel Sanders’ secret spices and Coca-Cola’s secret formula. And look at the secrecy surrounding each new version of the iPad.
The British government has its Official Secrets Act, as did most Western countries, including Canada — until our politicians became all mealy-mouthed and renamed it the Security of Information Act.
But, unfortunately, that’s what happens when bureaucrats and politicians get hold of the language: they like to sanitize and soften it until they’ve transformed it into meaningless pap, all in a misguided effort to avoid offending some group (or, more to the point, to avoid the scrutiny of self-appointed spokespersons for all manner of potentially offended groups).
And so the lazy are motivationally challenged, liars have credibility issues and the lost are (presumably) directionally challenged, while hospitals are called “health centres,” despite the fact that most of their occupants are far from healthy, and patients are called “clients,” which is somehow meant to “empower” them.
This kind of talk doesn’t empower anyone — it is much more likely to numb us all into complacency.
I challenge anyone to make sense of the drivel that emanates from government and managerial circles these days.
Translating the bull
Much to my delight, there is now a free downloadable software package called Bullfighter that can critique and analyze the kind of BS we are subjected to almost daily.
Just copy a passage from the latest office memo, business report or government manifesto, and paste it into Bullfighter and you’ll see how little substance there is to any of this nonsense.
When asked what he thought about Western civilization, Gandhi said he thought it would be a good idea.
I wonder what he would think of our present “civilization” 70 years after he uttered those words.
He’d certainly never get a straight answer to any of the questions he might want to ask today.
On the topic of secrecy, I’m reminded of the football game between the Knights of Columbus and the Freemasons.
A spectator, arriving late, asked “what’s the score?”
“It’s a secret,” said the man next to him.