“It obviously endangers the freedom and the objectivity of our discussion if we attack a person instead of attacking an opinion or, more precisely, a theory.–Karl Popper.
On reading this post again, perhaps I’ve been overly trusting and not strict enough in my condemnation of the serial abusers of language. What do we do with them, jail, suspension, interogration, rehabilitation, how?
I say, think before you speak. No, don’t just get on with it, please don’t just speak what’s on your mind. Think, and pause, and then speak what’s on your mind. Try to be sympathetic to the ear of the listener. Please, for goddesses sake, consider the other. Where does your tolerance end, and intolerance begin?
Detoxify the language, duh. Think about your language, look before you leap, call out hateful headlines which chose to simplify complex issues with insults. Ask yourself…if the shoe was on the other foot, would you feel hurt by any such generalized statement about groups of people? Pick your categories, colour, race, nationality, sex, religious denomination. Nobody likes to be pigeon holed, we are all individuals experiencing infinite flux of beingness. Yes, all word labels and categories, and nouns are somewhat meaningless, and I think, a part of the problem as I see it today.
The problem seems to me to be that each of us humans inhabit a process oriented world, yet depressingly, our relatively primitive language keeps us trapped in medieval dualism, and can lead to coercion and perversion by those in power, to maintain and extend that power, with the extensions of media and the means to produce and propagate the message. Control of the signals, and control of the accepted meaning of the symbols can lead to organized confusion, a new weapon employed by political parties and deployed upon the unsuspecting public. Yes, the far-right can be nuanced, think about it. Fight back with cunning, clarity, honesty.
I aim to be careful and to distinguish my position, wherever possible, whenever speaking of race, gender, nationality and religion. Personally speaking, like I said, I ascribe to the infinite flux of being model of humans and universe, a primary foundational axiom I aspire to. Every human being has potential to change, to will themselves toward a comprehensive, well rounded, experienced individual, aware of the delicate social framework and delicate yet dramatic events taking place all around. Indeed, we each have a responsibility to listen and learn and try to understand the other, sympathetically. What might have been lost in translation? Am I biased, am I being an aresehole again?
Anybody, (and in particular leaders and political representatives and public facing spokespeople for cultural values) who demonstrably, consistently use and abuse categorical generalizations, to cast a negative effect, should be suspended, investigated, interrogated and rehabilitated, IMHO. The practice of othering, through cross party workshops, could be a part of that rehabilitation process. Our leaders should lead us on these issues.
On the other hand, to try and introduce such a strict programme of semantic hygiene to citizens would cause massive outrage, and viewed as Orwellian PC agenda in effect. No, I don’t think that passing more and more laws about what you can and can’t say is the answer. On the contrary, say what you like. My plea is that you, and I, think before saying. And that you may find the brevity and courage within to consider how hurtful and insulting your words and actions could be to another, without. I wish you would know what it feels like, without having to show you through heated argument and slander and curses. While at the same time, raising awareness of the fact that broad and generalized statements are meaningless, and always have been empty and baseless.
All racism, xenophobia and sexism from the dawn of time has been wrongly constructed upon a primary fallacy, a lie, an impossibility of absolute identity, when viewed in the face of the infinite flux of beingness. Nonetheless, these generalities, these simulations of human beings and behaviours have been adopted, mauled and weaponized to pull on emotional psychological strings. These absolutes feed on seeds of prejudice within the vulnerable and easily led, tricking them to sprout fear and hate, and cause for alarm, with the desired end result of having you vote for stricter, harder, authoritarian measures. And suffer for them.
I try to give anybody the benefit of doubt, and agree that sometimes words and acustations and generalizations, drop out, and in private conversation, in jest. I’ve said things that I regret, and I think we all slip and confuse the menu with the meal, and the map with the territory every once in a while. However, consistent abuses and perversions of language, such as those found in, but not limited to, headlines from the Daily Mail and The Sun newspaper, should face similar suspension, interrogation and rehabilitation workshops. They, like our political leaders, hold an extra responsibility to uphold the nuanced uncertainty of world events, and interacting processes, and not discriminate between particular groups based on nationality, race, sexual preference or religion. And perform by example to exhibit these principles in mind, body, speech and action. All sides of the house, the globe, the political spectrum.
“From the loving example of one family a whole State may become loving, and from its courtesies, courteous; while from the ambition and perverseness of the one man the whole State may be thrown into rebellious disorder. Such is the nature of influence.–Confucius.