Due Diligence

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 (Jeremy Friedlander)

When did "diligence" become "due diligence"? Possibly when diligence became no longer necessarily due or, for that matter, diligent. It seems we need to buttress what we say, and especially what we write, with puff words, as if language were a bicycle tire, forever losing pressure unless we inflate it.

I say this as a self-identifying, member-in-good-standing and deeply impacted product of the bloviating community. Edit that sentence, please, and you might omit all of it. Is there any group of people that cannot be called a "community"?

Constructs like "community" when there is no community are comfort words. We use them because they make people feel better, or so we hope. And we may be right. Mushy words add mush, and mush can be useful.

Welcome to this commentary. I'm excited to have the opportunity to share with you this time we have together. It is an enriching experience for me, and I am grateful to you because you have made it possible. Frankly, I feel blessed.

Well, maybe not frankly, but you get the point. That soothing fluff is only a slight exaggeration of the flattery and reassurance with which any seller courts a prospective buyer. And all of us are selling something, especially when we write. To write without comfort words is to embrace the notion that one's message needs no cushion. Most of us are not that confident, or foolhardy.


In 1954, the US Supreme Court told Topeka, Kansas, to desegregate its schools "with all deliberate speed." To this day, no one knows what that meant. I suspect it meant, "We don't know what to order but we need to look like we do."

Words create an appearance, and appearances matter. When words don't mean what they appear to mean, those appearances matter, too, if only to demonstrate that plain-speaking is easier to praise than it is to practice.

With all due respect, or not, and with a Perspective, I'm Jeremy Friedlander.

Jeremy Friedlander lives in San Francisco.