Saturday, April 09, 2005

A Dung By Any Other Name

Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name smells as sweet.

The opposite is true. Many people try to cover ugliness with euphemisms. Yesterday’s news about how the Japanese government tries to whitewash history by glorifying her wartime past and glossing over the atrocities committed by the Japanese military in the last war is a good example.

In a newly approved history textbook written by the Japanese Society for Textbook Reform, the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were murdered was referred to as The Nanjing Incident. Thousands of women who were raped, tortured and forced to become sex slaves to satisfy the lust of Japanese soldiers were called “comfort women”.

Other less offensive examples are aplenty in our newspapers. The other day, a reader wrote to the forum complaining that numerous karaoke lounges and massage parlours have opened recently in his neighbourhood. Everybody knows, he said, what really goes on behind the closed doors of these places.

Next week, our government will announce its decision on whether or not to build a casino in Singapore. I wish they will stop referring to it as an ‘integrated resort’; as if it is a good, wholesome place to bring our kids.

A dung by any other name stinks.

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