Is this an example of what George Orwell described, in his bleak masterpiece of literature "1984", as "doublethink"? -No, not quite, but it’s something similar, I feel sure. "Doublethink" meant the ability to simultaneously hold and accept two opposing points of view, such as "the stars are little bits of fire a few kilometres away", and "the stars are huge suns, billions of miles distant". To say one thing for one purpose, then to immediately state the other thing for another purpose, and to eliminate from your mind the very fact that you had even contradicted yourself. No, this is not quite the same thing, but it is related. What I am looking for in this instance is a "Newspeak" word which means "to completely agree with a statement, yet simultaneously to completely disagree with it".
What in the name of jumping blue blazes am I babbling on about this time? OK, I’ll come directly to the point: I’m on about THIS news report, and more specifically, my reaction to the words of an official who was asked to comment on the situation.
The substance of the story:
Rioting has broken out at a young offenders’ institute in County Durham for the second time in three days.
A wing at Deerbolt, near Barnard Castle, was taken over by inmates on Tuesday evening, a spokesman for the Prison Officers’ Association said.
Another wing was destroyed by about 40 inmates on Sunday. Four prison officers were injured in the eight-hour riot.
…and the words of the official, which have produced this strange "doublethink-esque" reaction in me:
Steve Cox, national vice chair of the Prison Officers Association, said: "The fact that there have been two serious disturbances in the space of 48 hours has got to indicate that there is something drastically wrong in that institution." [….] "There has got to be something seriously wrong to cause prisoners to act in that way."
There’s the thing that is bothering me. Yes, I absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with Mr Cox that "there is something drastically [and seriously] wrong in that institution, to cause prisoners to act in that way." I’m struggling with this intellectual paradox. Because, you see, even though I could have used the exact same words myself, something bothers me. I don’t know, call it a hunch, but somehow I "feel it in my bones" that when Mr Cox refers to "something [being] seriously wrong", he actually means something completely different to what I would mean, if I said the same words. Hence Mr Cox and I find ourselves in total agreement, yet at the same time in total disagreement. Isn’t language a funny thing?
(PS, if you’re still at a loss as to what I mean by all this, then try deleting Mr Cox’s word "cause" from his above quote, and replacing it with the word "allow", and the mists might begin to clear).