Saturday, March 31, 2007


How could I resist a word which means "conduct or language which tends to incite resistance or rebellion against lawful authority"! Sedition comes from the Latin "se" for "apart" and the past participle of "ire" for "to go", giving a meaning of "to go against". But unfortunately, like obstreperous, the etymology started with resistance without characterization of the passivity or activity of the resistance, and devolved into rebellion, which is often tied with resistance but which has an inherent quality of activity. A passive rebellion is practically an oxymoron, although perhaps in another post, I'll discuss the extremes of the use of that word. Is it sedition to lobby Congress to change legislation? Perhaps by a technical usage of the word, although to use it in this context would merely be high sarcasm. Just like describing the democratic election process, or even the news, particularly during this time and with an incumbent politician, as sedition, although I might agree to the literal meaning here more. And one has to wonder if a failed defense to a criminal charge is ex post facto sedition. But mostly it gets used with activities in deliberate defiance of a government, possibly since a government is the most likely candidate for "lawful" activity which would need to be overthrown. Just before the coup, all literature against the monarchy was banned for its sedition. That's correct, but substitute modern figures and it gets stretched perhaps too far afield. Just before the board vote, all emails against the CEO were suppressed for their sedition. It's funny, because of the inference that the CEO was perhaps a king or a dictator, largely due to the requirement of the action being against lawful activity. The rebel leader was well-known for his sedition. The student group engaged in mild sedition against the principal's new "open locker" policy by littering the halls with their possessions or putting their possessions into locked boxes within their lockers. Possibly, although anarchy or revolt or just protest would probably work better. Still, this at least shows that the word works with people, activities of people, and obviously, ideas.

So, in the end, nothing special in this word, but it is still fun to use.

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