What thought stopping catchphrases and cliches grind your gears?

For me it’s “they need to face the consequences of their own actions” when used to justify something horrible being done to a person. I find it especially annoying when it’s invoked by an authority figure who plays some role in determining what happens to a person.

Now it may be that they deserve the horrible outcome, to be sure, but the passive construction “the consequences of their actions” has three fatal flaws, viz:

1. It’s obviously circular, it simply assumes the actual consequences are the fitting consequences- as if this were ordained by the universe. Just because something is a consequence of an action doesn’t mean it should be.

2. It dishonestly denies minimises the agency of those deciding and carrying out the punishment, as if the consequences just fell from the sky.

3. To the extent that “the consequences of our actions” as a concept makes any sense, arguably one of the main purposes of society, as opposed to a state of nature, is to shield people from what would otherwise be the “natural” consequences of their actions.

What thought stopping cliche or catchphrase do you despise?

2 thoughts on “What thought stopping catchphrases and cliches grind your gears?

  1. Not sure if this counts, but “You never know” kind bugs me. You can apply it anywhere, both for and against any argument.

    Regarding the “face the consequences” thing, maybe this is a stupid question, but isn’t the expression meant to imply that someone needs to face the externalities caused by their actions? So if you crash your parent’s car, the consequence is that the car needs to be fixed, and you should face that by getting a summer job, rather than your parents, who, since they own the car, by default would face those consequences. i.e. “face the consequences” = justice must be served.

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  2. “It is what it is” seems to try to surrender both free will AND determinism. Also tautological.

    I hear: “I want to be fatalistic while contributing nothing.”

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