Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Patsy McGarry on Cloyne Bishop John Magee's Davaluation of Language

John Magee, the bishop of Cloyne, Ireland, who had been in seclusion following the Cloyne report (and here and here) has finally been tracked down, and has spoken to the media.  Irish Times reporter Patsy McGarry is not impressed.  McGarry hears echoes of Humpty Dumpty telling Alice that he is the master of words and will determine what they mean.

And McGarry wonders if Bishop Magee and other bishops have thought of what happened to Humpty, as they follow his rule of thumb in issuing statements about their involvement in covering up sexual abuse following media and government reports exposing their cover-up.  McGarry pays particular attention to the Italianate extravagance of Magee's rhetoric, his use of little "it" (which inhabits the same stable, McGarry thinks, as the thoroughbred "mental reservation"), and "fully."

Humpty choosing what words will mean for his listeners, and not vice versa.  Prelates who preach that truth-telling is essential to our salvation fracturing language as they disavow responsibility for covering up sexual abuse among clerics.  

And then Humpty fell from his high perch, McGarry reminds us.

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