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Tue, 01 Jan 2019

Political Correct Communication

It seems almost as if being political correct is something people do not want to be. As a matter of fact, to move forward as humanity, we though need it very much. Let's take a look at the why and what it actually means, shall we?

I think we all have heard of the Golden Rule: "The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one's self would wish to be treated." I hope that we can agree on that. The idea behind is to envision oneself in the other person's shoes, figuratively, and see what it would do to yourself. If you don't like it, don't do it. Sounds easy?

Well, it isn't. When it comes to discrimination, which is something systematic, that doesn't work. There is also a power difference involved in discrimination, and here it starts: It's not possible to envision what some words might do unto others. Most of of the people within the Debian community are most probably white, able-bodied, cis (identifying with the gender assigned at birth), hetero, and male. Just to name a few most prominent categories. So even if we try to envision oneself in the place of the other person, we haven't experienced systematic discrimination like racial profiling, not able to enter a restaurant, being looked strange at whatever toilet we go to, have heads turned on us and people whispering when walking down the street hand-in-hand with our partners, or being cat called. And we might envision that being called "fag" isn't the nicest thing, people forget one thing: There is a huge power difference especially also in language.

How many discriminatory words can you come up for black people? Disabled people? Non-hetero people? Trans people? Women? And then take a step back ... and try to think about how many discriminatory words you can come up with for white, able-bodied, hetero, cis and male people. And then try to realize how even language plays into that power imbalance. Especially on the internet where the only thing you get from others is written language. So the one way to work with that is to actually listen to those facing discrimination and acknowledging that some words are off limit.

So next time you tell someone they are just a special snowflake, or that they should just swallow it down because that's the way things work ... think about this. And think about what you actually are transporting when you oppose to a political correct approach: When you consider political correctness something awful to strive for because it seemingly limits how you speak to and about others. Because honey, no, it doesn't. Anytime you belittle a political correct approach you are just showing one thing: That you are unwilling to be a safe space for the people around you, and simply don't care.

Oh, and one more thing: Free Software and Debian in specific always was political. Don't tell me that's news to you. Working on Free Software is an extremely strong political statement. It is to improve the world for everyone through making software available to everyone. And yes, that everyone includes non-white, non-cis, non-ablebodied, non-hetero and non-male people too, surprisingly to some it seems.

Enjoy, and happy new year!

P.S.: Part of this content is inspired by the German language book: Eine Frage der Moral from Anatol Stefanowitsch. If you understand German I urge you to read it. It gives a good insight.

/debian | permanent link | Comments: 9


 
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