Civility Matters, And It Starts With Us

Thu, 2017-05-25

Annie Nguyen | Huffington Post

Last week, Fox News commentator Tammy Bruce made headlines for calling a 10-year-old child a “snowflake.” The derogatory term – used to make a person second-guess their emotions or needs – crossed one of the few lines we still have in public discourse because the child was autistic. Thus, those emotional needs Bruce lambasted were justified.

However, had this child not been autistic, Bruce likely would have gotten away with her reductionist name-calling. In fact, name-calling, which is bullying in its simplest terms, has become so commonplace that no one bats an eye when such attacks are made, not even against children. This social acceptance of name-calling, of bullying in public discourse, is beginning to tear apart our society.

The idea that language usage impacts society is not a new concept. Aristotle believed language could shape policy more effectively than facts. And today, we recognize how language can advance an agenda quickly. Look at Winston Churchill, a statesman-turned-Prime Minister whose famous orations led England through World War II. Consider Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose speeches built a movement of social resistance, or even simpler, the political slogans that have championed candidates.