Tuesday, February 9, 2021

TIP TUESDAY: AVOID PASSIVE VOICE AND MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Avoid passive voice; in other words, "the form of the verb which shows that its subject is not the agent performing the action to which the verb refers but rather receives that action: The ham was sliced by Emily" (Harbrace).

Furthermore, "the passive voice also lends itself to . . .  muddied, heavy-footed writing" (Fundamentals).

Sometimes, "politicians and CEOs of failing companies use passive voice or similar sentence structures in an attempt to avoid responsibility for their actions" (Instructions).

I noticed an interesting example of usage last week when Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke of how she has been "condemned and crucified" for words she used in the past. Greene stated: "I was allowed to believe things that weren't true."

Strictly speaking, it's not an example of passive voice because Greene has the subject (I) right. But most of us would say I believed things that weren't true because we want an active verb and because we accept culpability. Greene also could have said I allowed myself to believe things that weren't true so I could get elected, kiss trump's ass, gain power for my cause and so on.

By saying "I was allowed," Greene deflects self-blame and lies. No one "allowed" her to believe insane claims.

I considered including more of Greene's lies here, but I can't. They're abhorrent. So as Penelope usually says at the conclusion of her blog posts, That is all. 


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Sources: Harbrace College Handbook, English Fundamentals, Instructions For Living by Janie Goltz 


30 comments:

  1. You are so right about politicians using passive voice to deflect (usually totally deserved) blame for their actions.
    Even here we are seeing too much of Greene. I hope she fades away. Quickly.

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    1. Greene, trump, and their ilk are dangerous. Plus, what a portrait we present to the world. It's beyond stupid and embarrassing.

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  2. I wonder who allowed Greene. I certainly didn't. Did you?

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    1. Don't you try to cast blame on me, Mister. I can deflect with the best of them.

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  3. When I come across like of Marjorie Taylor Greene and other ilk like her, a Maya Angelou quote comes to mind-" When people show you who they are...believe them."

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    1. I think of those words from Maya frequently, especially in these days of lying politicians. Another good one (I don't know who said it): When crazy comes walking down the street, turn and go the other way.

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  4. MTG's mother should have had an abortion; mary trump should have done the same.

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    1. Isn't it sad that these people are so horrible we wish them dead?

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  5. In the annals of political history, in a profession often known for its lack of homage to the truth, Marjorie Taylor Greene stands out as one of the most despicable practitioners of all time. It is not surprising that she would try to deflect responsibility for her words and actions, and language is just one of the tools she uses. Politicians often enter office filled with high ideals and develop an increasing level of sliminess over time, as staying in office becomes more important than principle. Marjorie Taylor Greene started out slimy from the get-go. It is baffling to me that she can get elected. But I thought the same about Trump, and 74 millions of Americans just voted for him, and his ring must be wet from Republicans kissing it. Thanks goodness for people like Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Adam Kinzinger, Liz Cheney.....and a few others. There may be a very dim light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

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    1. What a great comment. It's shocking to see such a person get elected, but with all the people who love trump and consider him their messiah, I guess I shouldn't be shocked anymore.

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  6. Using passive voice to avoid responsibility for actions -- PRECISELY!

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  7. YES! I noticed that interesting word choice as well. She's basically blaming someone else for her own beliefs! She's a friggin' piece of work, that one.

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  8. Love it.
    Also love Debra's response.

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    1. Yeah, Debra's pretty okay. She's a keeper, and so are you.

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  9. Didn't believe her who-me innocent speech for a second. And she has proved herself since then, too. Just like Trump...it was e "teleprompter" speech that meant nothing two seconds later.

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  10. That is a bizarre choice of words for her, until I realize that indeed it was her choice to use those words. She was allowed to I suppose (ugh)

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    1. Although she got kicked off of her two committees, it's not enough. Someone needs to be allowed to kick her out of Congress.

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  11. Referring to good writing here: what about the times and places where the writer seeks a vague (less than clear) presentation? Obviously, not for legal documents (for shame on anyone including our lawmakers who use it there) or a query for job/rental/business opportunity, but for, say, writing a mystery?
    "The body had been laid in ritualistic fashion..." better voice than "The killer laid the body..." because the first spews fog into the sentence by way of ambience.
    Or--does it? I'm of the mind that passive voice has a real place in fiction.

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    1. Passive voice definitely has its place. It can also be used in newspaper/magazine articles when the "actor" isn't clear.

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  12. I'm beginning to wonder if she'll impeach herself.

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  13. Hi, Janie, thanks for dropping by my blog (Barefoot Susie). It's a pleasure to meet you. I learned to drop passive voice when I started developing educational materials at a 3rd grade readability. It's only in the last decade that I can confidently write passive and complex sentences again. lol

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    1. That's a great anecdote. Writing for one's audience is important.

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  14. She's quite the character, isn't she? UGH...

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  15. I screamed at the tv when I heard MTG utter that pitiful attempt at distancing herself from responsibility. She wouldn't have gotten away with that in my third grade classroom! All my best to you!

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    1. Most third graders are probably smarter than she is.

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