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Monday, November 27, 2006

This week at Use words to heal.

Mary Pipher calls on us to avoid using words as weapons. She writes:

Language is weaponized when it is used to objectify, depersonalize, dehumanize, to create an "other." Once a person is labeled as "not like us," the rules for civilized behavior no longer apply. . . .

Progressives as well as conservatives have their way of dehumanizing. They hurl stones when they use terms such as "fundamentalist," "rednecks," or "right-wing conservatives" in derisive ways that allow no room for nuances, individual differences, or empathy with their adversaries' points of view.

I am not interested in weapons, whether words or guns. I want to be part of the rescue team for our tired, overcrowded planet. The rescuers will be those people who help other people to think clearly, and to be honest and open-minded. They will be an antidote to those people who disconnect us. They will de-objectify, rehumanize, and make others more understandable and sympathetic.

Pipher's essay is an excerpt from her latest book, Writing to Change the World.

In the news this week, Don Skinner reports that a Unitarian Universalist church in Finksburg, Md., has been vandalized three times this fall — and vandals in Media, Penn., descrated the rainbow flag at the UU church there. Jane Greer reports on an Oxfam "hunger banquet" sponsored by the youth group at the UU Church of Greater Lynn, Mass. And Sonja Cohen tracks other Unitarian Universalists in the media for the news blog.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 27 November 2006 at 7:30 AM

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Bill Baar:

November 27, 2006 11:16 AM | Permalink for this comment

...and that's what's wrong with Lakoff's frames.

Dudley Jones:

November 28, 2006 11:03 AM | Permalink for this comment

Please explain comment on Lakoff.



November 28, 2006 11:18 AM | Permalink for this comment

Bill has mentioned his dislike of linguist George Lakoff's analysis of "frames" in comments here several times. My favorite instance of Bill's peculiarly myopic critique is this one: "This is way I dislike Lakoff's frames so much. They lock you into a binary model. This is something conservatives never do." Right... You're either with us or your against us.

For more on Lakoff's ideas, see "Breaking the Frame" (Chris Mooney, American Prospect 3.24.03) and "Wooden Frame" (Noam Scheiber, New Republic 5.23.05).

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