The Plastic Hippo

April 10, 2013


Filed under: History,Politics — theplastichippo @ 2:19 am
Image via

Image via

Okay, I know that there is plenty of stuff to get angry about but could I please, please, please ask broadcasters, journalists, politicians and social media types to please check the definition of the word “decimate” before using it.

Decimation was a strategy used in ancient Roman legions to discipline mutinous, unruly or cowardly soldiers and it is thought that the practice originated in the wars between the last King of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and the Volsci Tribe that inhabited the area around modern day Velletri in Lazio. Later on, Crassus used decimation during the Third Servile War against Spartacus. The process is disarmingly simple; if any cohort is suspected of being disloyal, weak or lacking the ability to comply, they are divided into groups of ten. Lots are drawn and the one in ten is then beaten to death with clubs and stones by the other nine. Another more merciful variation was to stand an entire legion on the edge of a cliff and push every tenth man off. The practice ended when it became known that, unsurprisingly, decimation was bad for morale.

Decimation, however, continued throughout history with the imposition of taxes and tithes of a tenth of produce or income and the tactic of executing one in ten civilians for any act of war time resistance. From the Latin, “decimate” means a reduction by one tenth and not destruction, annihilation, obliteration, abolition or something that we do not like very much. So, for those saying that social care, the NHS, education, defence, transport, public utilities, trade unions, human rights, the legal system, social security and society itself have all been “decimated”, you are wrong. It is far worse than one tenth; it is the whole bloody lot. This distinction is, of course, totally pedantic and utterly futile but in a febrile atmosphere when the word “scrounger” is applied to a fellow human being dying of cancer and “entrepreneur” is the nomenclature of choice for a brazen criminal, semantics become important.

Just yesterday, the BBC ran a story suggesting that the World Snooker Tour would be decimated by halving the number of players participating. It`s the little things that betray trust and sets the agenda for blatant propaganda.

So please, don`t say “decimate”; say devastation instead.


1 Comment »

  1. Incredibly, some “sentient” beings on a message board I use feel that the pinko BBC has been denigrating the “legacy” of the the Great One. Personally, I’ve now taken to only relying on the superb C4 main bulletin for reliable information and comment. The BBC, with its cohort of Murdoch tainted “journalists”, has sunk the depths with its coverage on the hag’s demise. Reith must be spinning in his grave.

    I always thought that you had to be gay to like the Wizard of Oz as an adult! Keep up the fantastic work.

    Comment by boringteacher — April 11, 2013 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

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