Why We’re Getting Speech Wrong

Hello and welcome to my new blog! I’m really looking forward to getting started, and for my first post, I’ve decided to discuss something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time; speech, but in particular, the way we view speech and our relationship with it.

Getting called out for being offensive is nothing new, especially in today’s age of social media – we’re becoming more aware, as a society, of the words that we use and the meaning behind them, and undoubtedly, this is a good thing. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that too often, people feel that their language is determined by what is socially acceptable; as if they feel that they must follow some sort of invisible rule book, fearful of being accused of being “politically incorrect”. I feel like this is sorely missing the point, and not what we should be aiming for – in short, we’re getting speech wrong.

What I’m trying to say is that we should view speech, more specifically language, as a moral matter. Too often, when people talk using what is deemed as “politically incorrect” language – discriminating, stereotyping, or using slurs, for example – cries of “you can’t say that!” seem to dominate discussion spaces. Instead, I believe that we should use respectful language because we care. Simple as that. Some people see this as a weakness; apparently, it means I’m “giving in”, but retrospectively, I’m showing strength by educating myself and being self-aware.

I think that if people began to see it this way, then our relationship with words will be better, and the only way to achieve this is through education. Education that talks about privilege, history and self-awareness would be beneficial for individuals and society.

 I decided to make this my first post as I haven’t seen people talk about this a lot, and I began to wonder whether this meant that it was blindingly obvious to everyone else, or whether it was something that many people hadn’t considered. I’m really interested to find out whether the former or the latter is true, so please start the conversation in the comments!

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