“The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought.”
– Syme, in 1984 by George Orwell
In case you’ve never heard of a casino, here is the definition by Merriam-Webster:
a building or room used for social amusements; specifically : one used for gambling
But if you’re able to read this article, you already knew that.
And yet, if you talk to lawmakers and lobbyists in favor of the measure, you won’t hear them use the word casino. And if you insist on using that word, they’ll stop talking to you.
In all of the pro-casino interviews and press releases, even in the bills themselves, these places are referred to as “destination resorts”.
Now, I like a good euphemism just as much as the next guy. I console people when loved ones pass away… I excuse myself to the bathroom with no intention of bathing… I don’t object when a political staffer steps down to spend more time with the family.
But when it comes to “destination resorts”, there’s something wrong here. Bad wrong.
Because when elected officials, paid by the taxpayers to protect the general welfare, start using euphemisms to say that something ain’t what it is… we’ve gone beyond polite deference and into doublethink, defined by George Orwell in his dystopian novel 1984 as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
The pro-casino lobby, fully abetted by pro-casino factions in the legislature, are attempting to demand that we accept the falsehood that casinos are, in fact, merely “destination resorts” and, worse yet, that we refrain from calling them what they plainly are — casinos.
The problem with this is that no legislation is needed to allow either destinations or resorts in the State of Georgia. We have plenty of destinations — the Appalachian mountains, the sea islands, the city of Atlanta, the Okefenokee, Civil War battlefields and national parks to name a few. And there’s no lack of resorts, either — from Château Élan to the King & Prince.
No, what requires legislation is casinos. What we’re voting on is gambling.
Now I’m not advocating that anyone vote one way or the other. But what I must insist on is that we have an honest discussion, a truthful debate.
And we cannot have honesty or truth in this process if one side insists that we call the issue something that it is not. The issue here is gambling. Not resorts, not destinations, but gambling. That’s what this legislation enables.
Right now, in the age of Trump, when we have a president in the White House who tosses around lies like candy off a parade float, we are playing with fire if we allow our state lawmakers to go down the road of Newspeak and doublethink without calling them out on it.
So I call on all journalists, all news outlets, all media in the state to refuse to play along. In the interest of truth, for the protection of the general welfare, and in order to resist the erosion of objective journalism currently underway at the hands of those in power, I implore you all to call a casino a casino. Not a destination resort, but a casino.
This is not a small thing. Because mark my words, the more we allow the wealthy and powerful to control our language as we stand by and watch, the more emboldened they will become.
Stop it now. Stop it here. Do not comply.
Regardless of how you feel about gambling in Georgia, insist that we have an open, honest, truthful discussion.