7 Apr 2000 mojotoad   » (Journeyer)

I decided to post this after reading jennvs recent diary entry, after having absorbed the whole meta conversation.

I think jennv is right in ignoring the various posts that are overt attacks on one another.

Also, the get used to it type of responses land in a grey area; the point of such posts is perhaps worth discussing, but that sort of phrasing is just rude and gets you nowhere if you are interested in actual communication.

So, jennv's points about listening are accurate -- but only if each party to the conversation a) is willing to listen, and b) presents themselves as such.

I think the real problem is human nature and language. Take me, for example. I tend to despise most "Politically Correct" dogmas (bear with me, I mean dogma quite literally), but I have tremendous respect for clear communication. These two things often conflict within me.

The reason I am so suspicious of Politically Correct language is a general issue I have with symbols in general. Words are symbols. The more someone on either side of an issue heaps onto a symbol, the more likely miscommunication will result -- and assuming the people involved have a general respect for clear communication, the perceived insults are often unintentional.

Symbols for ideologies are the worst of all -- this cuts straight to the heart of more visible issues surrounding such things as flag burning, crosses, the rebel flag, the swastika, etc. kuro5hin was right on the money by suggesting the writings of Jacques Derrida on deconstruction.

But, back to sexism and language. Listening is paramount -- really listening. Automatically dismissing someone as sexist because they are using sexist language is just as misguided as someone who deliberately trys to be sexist. The same can be said of racism. It is the individuals who harbor the true fear, resentment, and hatred that are the real dangers; not the individuals who use language in hurtful ways through ignorance.

Which brings us to being Politically Correct. Since words are symbols, and can have multiple meanings, I find typical PC a bit pompous in the assertion that if you do not use language by our rules, then you harbor hatred. Now, I realize that that is an overly broad statement, but this is the trend that I most dislike about the movement.

We all use language, and language is an imprecise tool. Both sides of any issue have to understand this before clear communication can occur. Insisting that everyone play by your rules of language is just asking for attacks that were never attacks in the first place. Language is a slippery thing, and it's a shame when people get overly wound up about language and ignore real communication. Only through communication will the real problems be addressed -- the fears, the resentments, and the hatreds. Many times I think those that are easily offended by language will find that these bogeymen exist more in the realm of perception than reality. Don't short change the human spirit because of mere language.

So, in the meta discussion, there were many suggestions along the lines of use words that have no prior definitions for the trust rankings. This is a perfect example of PC gone awry: In order to escape connotations, intentional or otherwise, we use words that have no meaning? Can you imagine if this sort of thing were broadly applied to language?

Glorp nurquen rasdemblem?

(I'm glad we had that last chat...I feel we know each other so much better now!)

Anyway. This seems like Playground 101, to me: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

The internet is uniquely cursed, because we are forced to sieve communication through nothing but words, nothing but symbols. No innuendo, gesticulation, facial ticks, posture, nada.

Just good ol', imprecise words. Nothing but tools.


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