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#460815 - 02/15/14 11:18 PM censorship vs. sensitivity vs. expression
victor-victim Offline

Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 6387
Loc: š¯’Ŗ š¯’¦anada
scene from 1984

‘How is the Dictionary getting on?’ said Winston, raising his voice to overcome the noise.
‘Slowly,’ said Syme. ‘I’m on the adjectives. It’s fascinating.’
He had brightened up immediately at the mention of Newspeak. He pushed his pannikin aside, took up his hunk of bread in one delicate hand and his cheese in the other, and leaned across the table so as to be able to speak without shouting.
‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said. ‘We’re getting the language into its final shape — the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words — scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.’
He bit hungrily into his bread and swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, then continued speaking, with a sort of pedant’s passion. His thin dark face had become animated, his eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown almost dreamy.
‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well — better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning, or “doubleplusgood” if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already. but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words — in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was B.B.‘s idea originally, of course,’ he added as an afterthought.
A sort of vapid eagerness flitted across Winston’s face at the mention of Big Brother. Nevertheless Syme immediately detected a certain lack of enthusiasm.
‘You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,’ he said almost sadly. ‘Even when you write it you’re still thinking in Oldspeak. I’ve read some of those pieces that you write in “The Times” occasionally. They’re good enough, but they’re translations. In your heart you’d prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?’
Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on:
‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,’ he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. ‘Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?’

personally i prefer the Humpty Dumpty sermon on semantics.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
"The question is,"
said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is,"
said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

     ~ Charles Lutwidge Dodgson

in other words...
what i implied is not what you inferred,
and what you inferred is not what i implied.

i hate hatespeech,
but silencing and suppression and censorship is just as dangerous.

here is the humourous side of this subject:

A sketch from the old 1950's CBS production... The Stan Freberg Show.

The sketch, entitled "Elderly Man River", anticipated the political correctness movement by decades. Daws Butler plays "Mr. Tweedly", a representative of a fictional citizens' radio review board, who constantly interrupts Freberg with a loud buzzer as Freberg attempts to sing "Old Man River". Tweedly objects first to the word "old", "which some of our more elderly citizens find distasteful". As a result, the song's lyrics are progressively and painfully distorted as Freberg struggles to turn the classic song into a form that Tweedly will find acceptable "to the tiny tots" listening at home: "He don't, er, doesn't plant 'taters, er, potatoes… he doesn't plant cotton, er, cotting… and them-these-those that plants them are soon forgotting", a lyric of which Freberg is particularly proud. Even when the censor finds Freberg's machinations acceptable, the constant interruption ultimately brings the song to a grinding halt (just before Freberg would have had to edit the line "You gets a little drunk and you lands in jail"), saying, "Take your finger off the button, Mr. Tweedly—we know when we're licked", furnishing the moral and the punch line of the sketch at once.


#460841 - 02/16/14 08:47 AM Re: censorship vs. sensitivity vs. expression [Re: victor-victim]
Jacob S Offline

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 690
Loc: where the shadows lie
Yes but this is not a debating society. There are certain topics on MS that if debated in full force (such as religion) would overwhelm the healing conversations trying to take place. Sensitivity is needed when dealing with hurting people, and one's right to express oneself must take a back seat at times to one's decision to simply listen and take a person where he is. As the prayer of St. Francis says "seek to understand rather than to be understood."

At the same time, it has been my experience that when people use the phrase "this is political correctness gone too far!" what they are sometimes (not always but sometimes) saying is "I want the right to demean other people, but they don't have the right to tell me I am wrong!" If someone says "being gay is harmful," for instance, it is not "PC" for someone else to say "that's ignorant." It is in fact necessary for me to speak up -- not for my own sake but for the well-being of other readers. Silence implies consent, so to remain silent when someone is making harmful remarks is to be complicit.

For me, the balance between when to stay silent and when to express myself does not hang on my right to free speech, but rather whether or not the words I read could hurt someone else. If I choose to speak out against a potentially hurtful remark, I am adding to the conversation not detracting from it.

The problem with the old man river example is that in that sketch, the censor is asking for changes and clarifications for things that are universally understood and accepted within a low risk non-controversial text. In real conversations about complicated and actually controversial issues, however, asking for clarifications and greater precision is not absurd but rather beneficial to a more productive conversation.

If I've misunderstood you, a specific example of what you think the problem is would be quite illuminating.

Asking people to take the time, be more precise, and choose words that their audience will understand, is the exact opposite of "silencing and suppression and censorship." It is elucidation and precision and heightened understanding.

agreement 3

Don’t make assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Edited by Jacob S (02/16/14 09:58 AM)
I am a veteran of the soul wars.

#460845 - 02/16/14 12:47 PM Re: censorship vs. sensitivity vs. expression [Re: Jacob S]
victor-victim Offline

Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 6387
Loc: š¯’Ŗ š¯’¦anada
just throwing this stuff out there to hear what others think.
i am always genuinely interested in this topic.

exploring language. curious about the power of words.
the way they connect and divide people.
the way they confuse and clarify.
words can emancipate us, or enslave us.
entertain us, or entrap us.
if you knock out "X", then every other letter of the alphabet is endangered.

words are my profession, my passion and my playground.
there's always more between the lines, than what is written on the page.
"language is a virus" laurie anderson once sang.
i am just reaching out, not lashing out.

"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims,
one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms,
like a cuttlefish spurting out ink."
George Orwell - Politics and the English Language

1984 is a great book, and very thought provoking.
i saw the play recently and that language scene really stood out. the book really says a lot about people and the power of propaganda to persuade the population.
Click to reveal.. ( political prose )
“You could grasp the mechanics of the Society you lived in, but not its underlying motives. Do you remember writing in your diary, ‘I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY?’ It was when you thought about ‘why’ that you doubted your own sanity. You have read THE BOOK, Goldstein’s book, or parts of it, at least. Did it tell you anything that you did not know already?”
(The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism)
“You have read it?” said Winston.
“I wrote it. That is to say, I collaborated in writing it. No book is produced individually, as you know.”
“Is it true, what it says?”
“As description, yes. The programme it sets forth is nonsense. The secret accumulation of knowledge - a gradual spread of enlightenment - ultimately a proletarian rebellion - the overthrow of the Party. You foresaw yourself that that was what it would say. It is all nonsense. The proletarians will never revolt, not in a thousand years or a million. They cannot. I do not have to tell you the reason: you know it already. If you have ever cherished any dreams of violent insurrection, you must abandon them. There is no way in which the Party can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is for ever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts.”

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
George Orwell, 1984

"Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein are the conceptual leaders of the opposing forces in Oceania: Big Brother is the titular head of Oceania, and Goldstein is the leader of his opponents, the Brotherhood. They are similar in that Orwell does not make clear whether they actually exist. Using doublethink, O'Brien tells Winston Smith that Big Brother does and does not exist. Big Brother does exist as the embodiment of the Party, but he can never die. O'Brien will not tell Winston whether Goldstein and the Brotherhood exists, but it is likely that both are merely Party propaganda; the fact that O'Brien claims to have written Goldstein's book is a good indication of this." - 1984 CLIFF'S NOTES

"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Hermann Goerring

"Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."
James Madison in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1798

i like wordplay and the humpty dumpty riddle is another of my favourite scenes.
i also like the cheshire cat and the hookah smoking caterpillar.

the "senior citizen river" comedy sketch shows how complex the issue is with humour.
i always get a kick out of it.
buddy hackett did that same routine on tv once.
i just think it is funny.

I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
- Alan Greenspan


#460848 - 02/16/14 01:53 PM Re: censorship vs. sensitivity vs. expression [Re: victor-victim]
Jacob S Offline

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 690
Loc: where the shadows lie
So what exactly is the "political correctness movement?"
I am a veteran of the soul wars.

#460876 - 02/16/14 09:22 PM Re: censorship vs. sensitivity vs. expression [Re: victor-victim]
victor-victim Offline

Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 6387
Loc: š¯’Ŗ š¯’¦anada
the practical and principal applications of political correctness concerns the awareness and toleration of the sociologic differences among people of different races and genders; of physical and mental disabilities; of ethnic group and sexual orientation; of religious background, and of ideological worldview.
political correctness defines the vocabulary that the speaker and the writer use in the effort to eliminate the prejudices surrounding cultural, sexual and racist stereotypes.
in cultural and sociological matters, political correctness requires that the speaker and the writer use language, and practice behaviours that are constrained by a shared orthodoxy.

Originally Posted By: wikipedia
Political correctness
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Political correctness (or PC for short) means using words or behavior which will not offend any group of people. Most people think it is important for everyone to be treated equally, fairly and with dignity. Some words have been used for a long time that are unkind to some people. Sometimes these words have now been replaced by other words that are not offensive. Such words are described as politically correct. The term is often used in a mocking sense when attempts at avoiding offense are seen to go too far.
This term has been used since the early 1970s. It started being used in the modern negative sense in the late 80s in America.
Politically correct words or terms are used to show differences between people or groups in a non-offensive way. This difference may be because of race, gender, beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, or because they have a mental or physical disability, or any difference from what is considered the norm.

my opinion is…
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
     ~ Benjamin Franklin
“Once committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, there is only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror.”
     ~ Harry Truman
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
     ~ George Washington
“Freedom cannot be legislated into existence, so it is no less obvious that freedom cannot be censored into existence.”
     ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”
     ~ Hubert H. Humphrey
“Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”
     ~ Winston Churchill
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
     ~ Evelyn Beatrice Hall
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
     ~ George Orwell
“Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost.”
     ~ Neil Gaiman
"The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”
     ~ George Bernard Shaw
“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”
     ~ Oscar Wilde
“Censors tend to do what only psychotics do... they confuse reality with illusion.”
     ~ David Cronenberg
“A word, even the most contradictory word, preserves contact. It is silence which isolates.”
     ~ Thomas Mann

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
- United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

this is how i get through life out there,
where no one cares about how i feel or what words trigger me.

some people are worse than insensitive, they are intentionally cruel.
when i cannot avoid or ignore these verbal offenders,
and assault or murder is not an option,
i must endure and tolerate the ignorance.

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." - Justice Louis Brandeis
"Fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones." - Justice Louis Brandeis


#460933 - 02/17/14 02:22 PM Re: censorship vs. sensitivity vs. expression [Re: victor-victim]
Ever-fixed Mark Offline

Registered: 01/02/10
Posts: 732
Loc: United States
I think the definition of the term "political correctness" on Wikipedia is crisp and explains the genesis and evolution of the term's coded usage by the left and right:

Political correctness (adjectivally, politically correct; both forms commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term that refers to language, ideas, or policies that address perceived or actual discrimination against or alienation of politically, socially or economically disadvantaged groups. The term usually implies that these social considerations are excessive or of a purely "political" nature. These groups most prominently include those defined by gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability.

Historically, the term was a colloquialism used in the early-to-mid 20th century by Communists and Socialists in political debates, referring pejoratively to the Communist "party line", which provided for "correct" positions on many matters of politics. The term was adopted in the later 20th century by the New Left, applied with a certain humour to condemn sexist or racist conduct as "not politically correct". By the early 1990s, the term was adopted by US conservatives as a pejorative term for all manner of attempts to promote multiculturalism and identity politics, particularly, attempts to introduce new terms that sought to leave behind discriminatory baggage attached to older ones, and conversely, to try to make older ones taboo. This phenomenon was driven by a combination of the linguistic turn in academia and the rise of identity politics both inside and outside it. These led to attempts to change social reality by changing language, with attempts at making language more culturally inclusive and gender-neutral. These attempts (associated with the political left) led to a backlash from the right, partly against the attempts to change language, and partly against the underlying identity politics itself.

In modern usage, the terms PC, politically correct, and political correctness are pejorative descriptors, whereas the term politically incorrect is used by opponents of PC as an implicitly positive self-description, as in the cases of the conservative, topical book-series The Politically Incorrect Guide, and the liberal, television talk-show program Politically Incorrect.

The term "political correctness" is a great example of one that's become coded to mean different things to different groups. Today, it's used by the political class as a way to focus on changing the language used to talk about disadvantaged groups, instead of focusing on changing how those disadvantaged groups are treated. In the broader public conversation opposing PC language is often a fig leaf for opposing treating disadvantaged groups fairly.


Everybody here's got a story to tell
Everybody's been through their own hell
There's nothing too special about getting hurt
Getting over it, that takes the work

- "Duck and Cover" by Glen Phillips


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