dialogue on Aesopian language

	Sat, 23 Oct 1999 08:00:14 -0400 (EDT)


Thanks for writing. I know that communist leaders (in print, for instance)
deliberately engaged in doublespeak, especially in the months and years
when Moscow-led policy shifted too fast to keep up rhetorically. My point
is that a U.S. court should not have been in the business of using as
evidence the idea that a theory of inevitable doublespeak can be applied
to whatever communists are on record saying as evidence of their intention
to overthrow the American government in the future, since that charge of
conspiracy depended on speech as evidence. If speech is going to be
evidence of violent conspracy, I should think it would have to be literal
speech, not guessed-at instances of theoretically-deciphered doublespeak.


Al Filreis
The Class of 1942 Professor of English
Faculty Director, the Kelly Writers House
Carnegie/CASE Pennsylvania Professor of the Year, 1999

| I read with interest (on the web) your excellent 1987 article on Cold
| War interpretation.  One criticism:  the article treats the category of
| "Aesopian language" as a from-whole-cloth invention of an invidious
| prosecution.  If it could be shown to your satisfaction that the
| communists did indeed employ Aesopian language (probably for very good
| tactical and security reasons), would you then have no objection to the
| introduction of this fact as relevant evidence of intent in the Dennis
| trial?  Do you object only because you believe the charge was false
| (guileless straight talk to be held a hallmark of the American communist
| movement, one supposes)?  Or would you object even if you believed that
| the communists were adepts in double-speak?  The article would have been
| more persuasive had you briefly discussed and opined on the merits of
| Budenz's thesis in light of actual communist rhetorical praxis.
| This quibble aside, thanks for making available on the internet your
| interesting and illuminating analysis.
| --James 


Document URL: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/aesopian-dialogue.html
Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:42:50 EDT