Leash On The Larynx

I read an article about student organizations at Duke University and their “Think Before You Talk” campaign. The aim is to re-evaluate and spread awareness about commonly used phrases and their impact.
Language is important and a behaviour that springs from thoughts, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes. Certain words become taboo and or even disgraceful but despite their banishment the sentiments remain in the dictionaries of our hearts.
It is important to be careful about some phrases and expressions, they can become habit. We seldom consider what a word or phrase means to the person or group singled out. We can remove words from our lexicon but the meanings carry into new ones. You don’t hear the word Nutter much but you can catch the flavour even in song lyrics which reference bi-polar. If a person refers to something as Gay we can socially reject its use but from where it stems may never be altered. For some it becomes a mental maneuver to ensure social acceptance.
Making it unacceptable to speak with certain phrases will have an effect on prejudice and stigma but a thought will still be a thought. If I think in a derogatory fashion watching my tongue will not change the attitude which wags it. If I keep a derogatory remark to myself it is unlikely to change the values or judgements I place on people who are different from me.
In some small way when someone can be devalued and thus held with less regard it can be a boost to self esteem. If a group or individual become a putdown it is made by someone who wishes to be more. Possibly that individual is threatened and or confused as to their own status. We need to change the thoughts behind the use of offensive slang. These thoughts have become ghettos for people different from some imaginary homogeneous ideal.
It is more helpful to change the attitudes which give rise to offensive remarks. If we censor the tongue, what rattles in the mind continues. Not using certain phrases changes what is passed and where but a bigot can stand next to those he hates with a leash on his larynx.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s