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I repeatedly hear the word “sequestration” used by commentators on the present political scene. I have been sequestered as a jury member, and I have a little knowledge of the word’s meaning in chemistry. I know that it has a legal meaning having to do with the seizure of property in a contest of ownership, but I have little clue as to what it means in current political discourse. If it means across-the-board tax cuts or some tax laws soon to go into force, it is surely a poor use of the word.

When I looked the word up and found an attempt to “disambiguate” it, I had to resist a strong impulse to throw up. I am not entirely sure, but I think disambiguate is the word that a pompous person uses instead of the word “clarify.”

Ambiguation is the act of being ambiguous and there is a whole lot of that going around these days. Coping with innovative usage of standard words must be more than ordinary, intelligent people are willing to undertake. I asked about 20 people in leadership roles to tell me what sequestration means as it is presently used by political commentators and not a single one knew.

Is this a deliberate attempt to muddle and confuse ordinary people?

It is surely a scare tactic with ominous intimations.

I know that well educated people often use words that have to be looked up by ordinary souls like me, but it is another thing when you can’t find a clear meaning no matter how hard you search.

I once read that Huey Long used to go into the hinterland and accuse his foes of being siblings or cogitating or something else with an ominous sound but an innocent meaning.  

I think I finally dug it out that we are talking about some forced spending cuts that are going into effect unless repealed in the next month or so.  It is still a very complex problem when we all know what we are talking about, but it might help a little to have a better idea of what we are talking about.

Nevertheless, when I do not know exactly what I am talking about, I always try to stay away from the topic as much as possible.

TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is tobyhigh@frontier.com. Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN. 47803.

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