by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Steven Poole is a British journalist who has authored books on the abuse of language. His column – Steven Poole’s word of the week – is featured in The Guardian. In February, one of Poole’s headlines asked: Why do we call vaccinations ‘jabs’?
Poole explained, since the 16th century the verb jab first described the pecking of birds, then it was used to describe any poking or thrusting action. Later the term was incorporated into boxing. A jab was a straight punch from the fighter’s non-dominant hand. The origin of the medical use of the term comes from a 1914 dictionary of criminal slang. A jab was a hypodermic injection amongst morphine and cocaine fiends.
Poole provides the public with lessons in etymology. Etymology is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings developed or changed throughout history.
Recently, a Miami Herald headline asked: Why did the CDC change its definition of ‘vaccine’? Apparently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention modified its definitions of the words “vaccine” and “vaccination” on its website.
The Miami Herald stated, “Before the change, the definition for ‘vaccination’ read, ‘the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.’ Now, the word immunity has been switched to protection.
Immunity and protection are synonyms, but the words do have different definitions, so the terms aren’t automatically interchangeable. The Oxford Dictionary defines protection as the action of protecting or the state of being protected, but immunity has two definitions. First, it means the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells. Second, it means protection or exemption from something, especially an obligation or penalty.
Obviously, the first definition is medical and the second definition is legal.
The CDC also altered the term vaccine. The CDC’s definition changed from ‘a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease’ to ‘a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases.”
Of course, skeptics and conspiracy theorists suggested that the CDC’s unannounced changes were an attempt to disguise the fact COVID-19 vaccines are not 100 percent effective at preventing coronavirus infections.
A spokesperson for the CDC denied any malfeasance, then gave an explanation followed by an endorsement. The spokesperson explained, the previous definition could have been interpreted to mean that vaccines were 100 percent effective, which has never been the case for any vaccine, so the current definition is more transparent, then the spokesperson said, “It’s important to note that the modifications to the definition of ‘vaccine’ don’t change the fact that vaccines and vaccinations has prevented millions of illnesses and saved countless lives.”
In a tongue and cheek tweet, U.S. Representative Thomas Massie said, “The CDC has been busy at the Ministry of Truth.”
The Ministry of Truth is a reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. The main character was employed at the Ministry of Truth, and his job was to rewrite history and falsify records so they corresponded with the government’s current claims and agenda. The Ministry of Truth believed – people could not think without words – so they redefined words in the dictionary in order to make people think how the definition instructed them to think, rendering it impossible to think independently.
Orwell gave an example of this manipulation with the word free. After the Ministry of Truth redefined free, the word could only be used in a statement like “the field is free from weeds”, but the word could not be used in the sense of “politically free” or “intellectually free” because political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts.
The CDC spokesperson claimed that “slight changes in wording” haven’t impacted the overall definition of vaccine, but a lot of people believe the definition has been corrupted in an Orwellian fashion, and they don’t want to get vaccinated because they don’t know whether they’re getting jabbed or sucker punched.