The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0927 Tuesday, 1 June 1999.
Date: Tues, 1 Jun 1999 14:37:22 +0800
Subject: "Protesting too much"
Here in the reigning capitol of Orwell-speak (Beijing), I have a
Shakespeare question that requires a context.
Last weekend I met a woman who grew up in Romania. She was trying to
tell me how the government controlled media can make very somber, though
glaringly false declarations like "There are no beggars in China."
You don't have to be in China long to see beggars. I see different ones
almost every day. She said that the government position is that any
"actual" beggars are only "temporary," some sort of passing social
mirage. She said that, under that kind of government, "You learn to
trust what you hear more than what you see."
I can't imagine living in a world where you trust the state controlled
media more than your own perceptions and experiences.
What is it called when one makes a statement like Cassio's "I'm not
drunk. This is my right hand, etc" in "Othello." Surely the only time
one would make that statement is when one IS drunk. Just as the media in
China would say that there are no beggars only because there ARE
Could you imagine a headline in the US proclaiming the elimination of
I just saw that headline in Beijing.
What is that called? How could I trace these kinds of statements?
I keep hearing lines from students about cheerful workers and singing
peasants, not to mention "We a peaceful people"as they throw rocks at
our embassies. As the 10th anniversary of Tiananmen Square comes up
June 4, I expect even more doublespeak.
How do I categorize/interpret these kinds of statements?
To put it mildly, the Chinese government's continuous bland assurances
that foreigners are safe in China doesn't help me sleep at night.
Hamlet's "Methinks he doth protest too much" sums it up, but do we have
a name for it?
Safe in the land of no beggars - and "protected" by the Peoples
PS My email is, I am sure, screened, for my own good of course.