Respectful Communication: Political Correctness
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Respectful Communication: Political Correctness

In my last essay, I discussed how presuming other peopleís motivations was prone to error and is almost always received as disrespectful. Today I will consider the tensions related to political correctness and what this means for building peaceful communities.
There are some who insist on people using language that does not carry overtones of past or present injustices. They argue that words shape how we think and act, and therefore we should be careful about the words we use. Others counter that intent is what counts; if someone uses words or phrases that were once offensive but no offense is now intended, then no offense should be taken. The first (words matter) group often regards the second as having subtle or overt objectionable views, and the second (intent matters) group often regards the first as elitist and condescending.
Currently in the United States, such sentiments breed resentments but we rarely see open hostility. People from different camps tend to avoid socializing with each other, but there is little fighting. Throughout the world, we have seen simmering resentments flare up into violence when there is political or economic instability, or when resentments become so strong that anger simply breaks through the normal barriers to violence. Perhaps an example of the last is what we recently saw in Ferguson, Missouri.
If we want peace in our communities, we need a sense of shared values, because those with shared values have similar ultimate goals. Otherwise, those with greater power will determine which values determine policy, and those with less power will be resentful and be seeking not only opportunities to seize power but also to exact revenge.

What value or values can form a foundation for peace in our communities? How do these values relate to animal issues? Iíll explore these questions next essay. 

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