Mock reference books go back a ways but the first really great practitioner of the art was newspaperman Ambrose Bierce. Collected under various titles and put out in a few editions, his so-called Devil’s Dictionary is the standard for judging the definitional darts of these specialized lexicons. Looking at Bierce’s Dictionary now, the tasty parts of the stew boil to the surface: its bile and wit, its misogyny, its digressions (poetry or snippets of dialogue follow many entries), its practiced cynicism.
Bierce poked at everything about society that seemed false to him, from organized religion to hypocritical social norms, but he also skewered the dissenters. So, while history was “an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools,” non-combatants in the Civil War were written off as a bunch of dead Quakers. A nihilist was “a Russian who denies the existence of anything but Tolstoy.”
Liberwocky is not nearly so catholic a work as the Dictionary. Its focus is tight and, in the definitions and the short essays, you can observe the anger seeping through the wit. Author Victor Gold is a grand old man of the right. He worked for Barry Goldwater and Spiro Agnew, co-wrote a book with George H.W. Bush, and back in the day was a regular contributor to several journals of conservative opinion, including this magazine, and his views haven’t “evolved” over the years.
Though Gold allows that liberals “can be a load of laughs” in the abstract, it is clear that he is more maddened than amused by the continuing dominance of progressives in the press, the academy, and certain slices of American society. The first entry under C is “Camelot. A mythical liberal era when all men were equal, affluent, and inspired, and women were beautiful, witty and well-groomed, and Republicans knew their place.”
The italics are his, which pounded the first warnings into my very thick skull that this is a serious book masquerading as a silly one. It wasn’t enough to throw the joke out there and let the audience either understand or fail to grasp it; it was important that you get the point. On closer inspection, the veneer of frivolity is very thin indeed. Gold didn’t even bother with the normal word-usage indicators (n., v., adj., etc.) that are common to the genre.
The point, he explains, is that words “like ideas-even empty calorie words that pass for ideas- have consequences,” and that liberals have been very good at molding the language to their own propaganda ends. Gold aims to draw out the assumptions behind word usage and thus do his own little bit to ruin some poor Democratic Party hack’s day.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?