Finneran: The Abuse of Language

Friday, December 01, 2017
Tom Finneran, GoLocalProv MINDSETTERâ„¢

I call it the abuse of language. Actually, it’s more like the outright torture of language, tugging and twisting common sense words beyond any rational meaning.

Take the word “endangered” when it is used to describe the status of certain species of animals. For example, the massive seal herds of Chatham are comprised of “endangered” seals. The herds are now so large that they can be seen from outer space via NASA satellite photographs.

Endangered?? Thousands and thousands of seals, breeding, defecating, and completely off-limits to even a limited culling effort, are most emphatically not endangered.

Rather, public health is endangered. Public safety too.

Consider the utterly predictable arrival of scores of great white sharks lurking in the swimming waters of the National Seashore and Cape Cod Bay. Who can blame the sharks for prowling in such stunning numbers to feast upon their favorite prey?

Both the seals and the sharks are now there in such overwhelming number that the next utterly predictable event is a shark attack upon swimmers. Call me old-fashioned but my moral hierarchy puts a higher value on human life than it does on a fat foul seal. And while the presence of sharks is “exciting” in an abstract way, it will not be a happy event when one strikes a swimmer in mid-summer season.

There have been many close calls already. And while a strong full-grown adult may or may not be able to shake off a shark attack, a child riding the waves or playing in the surf will not be so fortunate. Cape Cod National Seashore beaches have been shut down for some part of virtually every single day of the summer season. The sharks have also migrated around the tip of the Cape and they now prowl the bay itself—host to water skiiers, tubing, snorkelers, swimmers, and kayakers. We are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with powerful predators.

Such a state of affairs is not a triumph of conservation. Rather it is a triumph of mushy wishful thinking, a form of thinking that places human beings on a par with seals. After all, the seals were here first and we’re the intruders—so goes the ludicrous analysis. Seduced by their alleged “cuteness” and swayed by a cult-like worship, we demean our beastly fellow humans and elevate those natural creatures into God-like status.

Consider the public agitation over an extremely limited deer hunt in the Blue Hills Reservation area of Greater Boston. The hunt was instituted a year or two ago in the face of emaciated and diseased deer herds. The sheer numbers of deer have stripped the area of sufficient vegetation to support the herds, leading to starvation and health complications. The absence of any natural predators—wolves, bears, mountain lions—has lead to an unsustainable explosion of the deer population and thus the institution of a limited hunt in order to cull the herd to a healthy balance. The public hand-wringing over the hunt illuminates an elevation of Bambi-worship over common sense.

Let’s migrate for a moment to consider the outright plague of Canada geese. Is there a more aggressive, foul, obnoxious poop machine on the planet? I think not. They should be slaughtered by the thousands, dressed, cleaned, frozen, and delivered to food pantries around the country and to U.N. relief stations around the world.

What a coup it could be for American diplomacy and what a victory for good old common sense--the delivery of deer and goose food packages to starving people and the elimination of a bird that has ruined swimming ponds, golf, courses, and public ballfields around the country. Good riddance to them.

As for those cute seals, it’s never too late to stop abusing the language. Endangered? You’ve got to be kidding me...............

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.

  • Sponsor: GoLocalProv

    Sample: N=403

    Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

    Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

    Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

    Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

  • Are you registered to vote at this address?

    Yes: 100%

  • When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

    Unaffiliated: 49%

    Democrat: 32%

    Republican: 15%

    Moderate: .4%

  • Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

    Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

    Definitely be voting: 78%

    Probably be voting: 13%

    50-50: 9%

  • In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

    Right track: 39%

    Wrong track: 45%

    Mixed: 10%

    Don't know/Refused: .6%

  • What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

    Jobs and economy:  21%

    Education: 12%

    Taxes: 12%

    Roads: 12%

    State budget: 9%

    Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

    Healthcare: 3%

    Governor: 3%

    Homelessness: 2%

    Immigration: 2%

    Other: 7%

    Don’t know: .9%

  • Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 35%

    Changed for the worse: 16%

    Not changed at all: 43%

    Don't know/Refused: 5%

  • Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 26%

    Changed for the worse: 19%

    Not changed at all: 54%

    Don't know/Refused: 1%

  • Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

    Net: Approve: 28%

    Definitely approve: 15%

    Probably approve: 14%

    Net: Reject: 67%

    Probably reject: 19%

    Definitely reject: 48%

    Don't know: 4%

  • Could you please tell me your age?

    18-24: 7%

    25-34: 15%

    35-44: 15%

    45-54: 20%

    55-64: 17%

    65+: 25%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

  • What was the last grade you completed in school?

    0-11: 2%

    High school grad: 16%

    Technical/Vocational school: 1%

    Some college: 23%

    College grad: 34%

    Graduate degree: 24%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

  • The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

    $50,000 or less: 27%

    More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

    More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

    More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

    $150,000 or more: 13%

    Don't know/refused: 17%

  • What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

    American/None: 21%

    English: 13%

    Italian: 13%

    Irish: 12%

    Black or African American: 6%

    Latino/Hispanic: 6%

    French: 6%

    Portuguese: 3%

    Jewish: 3%

    German: 1%

  • Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?

    Excellent: 13%
    Good: 12%
    Fair: 14%
    Poor: 57%
    Never heard of:  0%
    Cannot rate: 3%

  • Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 22%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 23%
    Poor: 15%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 6%

  • Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 17%
    Good: 22%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 28%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 7%

  • Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 9%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 27%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate:  8%

  • Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 7%
    Good: 30%
    Fair: 20%
    Poor: 18%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 11%

  • Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

    Excellent: 6%
    Good: 28%
    Fair: 30%
    Poor: 31%
    Never heard of: 1%
    Cannot rate: 3%

  • Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?

    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 16%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 8%
    Never heard of: 26%
    Cannot rate: 25%

  • Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?

    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 20%
    Fair: 28%
    Poor: 17%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 19%

  • Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

    Excellent: 4%
    Good: 18%
    Fair: 24%
    Poor: 13%
    Never heard of: 21%
    Cannot rate: 21%

  • Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

    Excellent: 5%
    Good: 21%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 10%
    Never heard of: 20%
    Cannot rate: 23%

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