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Old 06-24-2004, 01:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Dictionary Is A Battlefield

Originally posted by me on antipartisan.org

What do you think about when you hear the word "sinister"? You're probably thinking evil, sadistic, dark and mean. Did you know the word itself used to mean nothing more than a reference to something "on the left side"? How exactly did this word come to mean all of these bad things? As the primary authority of what is wrong and right in the last 2000 years, let's look to the Christian faith for our answer:

Quote:
Christianity is strongly biased towards the right hand. It is the right hand that gives the blessing and makes the sign of the cross. On one count, the bible contains over 100 favourable reference to the right-hand and 25 unfavourable references to the left-hand.*
Through typical Christian teachings, a subconscious relation is formed beween 'right' and 'good' while 'left' is paired with 'bad' and 'shameful'.

When you look about how that affects us in today's world, you need to look no further than politics. Who can you find in the right-wing of the political spectrum but conservative, religious republicans (and other denominations)? While on the left side, there are the 'loose, immoral and insipid' liberals.

I haven't been able to research much about the word "right" at this moment, but it's link between physical placement, the concept of being correct, and it's holy implications of righteousness all tie together very well. The word "left" is derived from Old English, meaning "weak" and so it's poltical weight and reputation lies on more than just what parties are associated with it.

For irony, you might take a look at the TV show The Simpsons, whose resident god-fearing bible thumper Ned Flanders is left-handed. How does he live with himself?
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Old 06-24-2004, 01:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Left-Right wing politics has nothing to do with the religious preference of the right hand.

It had to do with where they tended to sit in the French national assembly. The liberals on the left, the conservatives on the right.

But the right/left religious symbolism hasnt ended. In muslim culture the left hand is the hand of the devil, and the dirty hand. If a muslim offers to shake your hand, or pat your back with his left hand it's a massive insult. Its the hand they whipe their ass with..
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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It's such an insult not because they use that hand to wipe their ass, but because.... well, how many trees do you see in the middle east?
Not many. Toilet paper is a luxury for an arab.
Bare hands.
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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How can you say it has nothing to do with it? Seriously.
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Lessee:

"Satanism is not a white light religion; it is a religion of the flesh, the mundane, the carnal - all of which are ruled by Satan, the personification of the Left Hand Path"
--Satanic Bible

The Catholic Church at one point declared that being left handed made you a servant of the Devil. Consequently children were punished as infants if they tried to pick thing up with their left hand.
African tribes and ancient pre-Christian superstition also equate left with wrong.

I suppose it is derived from the majority being right handed, so left handed individuals were looked at as away from the norm. Lefties also tend to be more artistic. This is because they develop their right side of their brain more through the practice. (Brain Lateralization) Righties are more analytical. So the lefties usually end up being the less involved with regular society and by nature are more liberal.
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Seaver
If a muslim offers to shake your hand, or pat your back with his left hand it's a massive insult. Its the hand they whipe their ass with..
I have always wondered about this. I am right handed, and I know I couldn't use my left hand for wiping my ass. I am not that skilled. Does this mean muslims are ambidextrous?
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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I'm sure it takes training. But it is started at an early age when it is easiest to create the correct mental pathways to enable it.
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Old 06-24-2004, 02:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So more relations are formed between left/bad and right/good. However one cannot disprove their link in politics.

I personally think it is a very strong link.. very obvious once you're privy to it.
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Old 06-24-2004, 03:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Interesting coincidence, but correlation does not equate causation.

Because the more conservative representatives sat together on the right side of the building did not mean they were sending a message to the liberals saying they were wrong. There are many cultures that have preferences of North/South/East/West, even in many Christian cultures, yet that didnt have any effect did it?
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Old 06-24-2004, 07:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I thought the negative meaning of sinister came from "sinister ocular" which means the left eye. The left eye being the evil eye that many religions fear. How is that related to politics?
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Old 06-24-2004, 07:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I hate left-handed people, including my best friend. I don't know how that figures into the argument, but all you southpaws -- I have my eye on you.
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Old 06-24-2004, 07:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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But think about this... If the conservatives sat on the right and the liberals on the left, was that stage left or house left? We might be calling the wrong people leftists!
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Old 06-24-2004, 08:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I do believe it was Right/Left side of the room looking from the entrance.
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Old 06-25-2004, 01:39 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Thats also why people shake hands with their right hand and not their left. The left hand was your pooper scooper.
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Old 06-25-2004, 02:13 AM   #15 (permalink)
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that's interesting...

is this why most countries drive on the right hand side of the road?

did you know that a rotation in 4 dimensional space can swap left and right ? (like anti-clockwise can become clockwise if you look from below not above)

there's a lot of left-right asymmetry in nature you know, maybe that has something to do with it all...
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Old 06-25-2004, 03:30 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Seaver
I do believe it was Right/Left side of the room looking from the entrance.
Actually it was the opposite - right/left of the speaker.

For example EU parliament is arranged like this.

And about the traffic, I'm not quite sure why it was switched but left side traffic was logical for righthanded travellers in dangerous feudal times - easier to draw a sword.
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Old 06-25-2004, 04:07 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Cool. So I'm sinister?

Seriously though, I think out definition of right/left has changed to a more moderate approach. When you consider the extremes, many people consider the far right (ultra-conservative fundamentalism) to be more "evil" than the extreme left. Or at least that's the perspective I've gotten; others may differ based on region and experience. But I've heard Ashcroft described as "evil" a lot more than any super liberal I can think of.
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Old 06-25-2004, 06:20 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Dexter = right
Sinister = left


The left side is favoured in religions like Hinduism and Buhdism... The pagans and their Godess worship also favoured the left, or more "feminine" side of the body... The Catholic Church in its efforts to undermine other religions in favour of the Catholic Church campaigned to demonize all things left.

The Left and Right wings of the political spectrum are derived directly from the times of the French Revolution and, as has been pointed out, derived from where different political factions sat in the assembly.

While the consiracy theorist in me would like to draw a connecting line here I don't really think it's valid (at the time I think either left or right they were Catholic... and ferverently so).


The fact is that language is a battleground. Sinister is just one example of many where a word that meant one thing has been twisted to mean another... Why do you think those who are labelled "politically correct" fight so hard over the usage of common words?

Mailman or letter carrier? anyone?

This is exacerbated when translations occur from one language to another... Mary, a young woman becomes Mary, a virgin... Kind of changes the story doesn't it.
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Last edited by Charlatan; 06-25-2004 at 06:23 AM..
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Old 06-27-2004, 05:28 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Well, I'm glad that yet another evil Christian mind control technique has been brought to light. If only we could declare them as enemy combatants as well and just burn the churches down, I fell so oppressed by them constantly in my daily life.

Seriously, the sinister == left thing was something we talked about in 7th grade, where have you been? And now that it's been a few days, are you honestly still amped about this?

Here are some words I like a lot more:
"hysterical"s roots mean that one is acting like a woman. Ouch.
"testify" literally means to swear by your balls. In Pax Romana times, you had to do that when giving official testimony. If you were lying, they chopped your balls off.
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Old 06-27-2004, 06:45 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Interestingly enough, this very subject was brought up in another thread a few days ago:

http://www.tfproject.org/tfp/showthr...68#post1256368

Quote:
Originally posted by Redgirl
Have you not lived here very long, Sinister? Should I be talking to you, considering your motives? hehe...
Quote:
Originally posted by SinisterMotives
I've lived here awhile but still don't see the attraction.

"Sinister" originally meant "left". You can thank the right-wing nuts down through the ages for turning it into a negative term.
While it may not be correct to say that right-wing politics or religion consciously invented the negative connotation of "sinister", the religious functions of consciousness are definitely at play in that the unconscious typically depicts the left brain as chthonic in symbols and dreams.

Shades, I find the psychological roots of word etymology fascinating quite beyond the seventh grade level of simply positing "a = b".

Last edited by SinisterMotives; 06-27-2004 at 06:57 PM..
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Old 06-28-2004, 05:09 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Halx
So more relations are formed between left/bad and right/good. However one cannot disprove their link in politics.

I personally think it is a very strong link.. very obvious once you're privy to it.
This is funny to me because I recently advanced a theory on another board that liberals tend to be left-brain/artistic while conservatives tend to be right-brain/logical and practically got laughed off the board by a certain individual of whom many here are now enamored.
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