Eventually, circumlocution bites back. The word ‘circumlocution’ means ‘talking around’. It means not addressing a problem directly to solve the problem.It means discussing a problem and complicating it, but not solving it.
I read a perfect example tonight. Some ‘professor’ at a university (Glasgow?) said that the medical porn on cig packets might be counter-productive. He reasoned that smokers were put off trying to ‘quit’ because the the horror messages on cig packs overwhelmed them; that smokers, seeing the medical porn, would despair because they could not cope, mentally, with the gap between reality and the medical porn. Has any reader of this blog ever seen a person with a huge cancer tumour on his neck, or anything even remotely similar, whatever the reason for that tumour? His idea is that smokers are put off trying to quit because the medical porn suggests that it is terribly difficult to quit.
So does this professor say that the medical porn should be discontinued? Well, yes, sort of. But he wants it replaced by ‘positive’ messages rather than ‘negative’ messages. Perhaps he has in mind pictures of athletes throwing themselves over obstacles, or happy ‘quitters’ grinning.
What he fails to observe is that smokers are not as pliant as he thinks. “smoking kills” messages have been on tobacco packs for years, but I never see those messages, any more than I see ‘traffic light’ messages. I just do not see them, nor do I care.
Feelings of ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’ do not derive from cig packets. They derive from laws. It is LAWS which promote guilt and shame. But people are not stupid, regardless of the expectations of professors of this or that. People know that their feelings of guilty or shame are irrational, even if it takes some time for them to come to that conclusion. It is when people realise that they have been cheated that they fight back.