Dialogue, as we are choosing to use the word, is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization. In our modern culture men and women are able to interact with one another in many ways: they can sing dance or play together with little difficulty but their ability to talk together about subjects that matter deeply to them seems invariable to lead to dispute, division and often to violence. In our view this condition points to a deep and pervasive defect in the process of human thought. (Bohm, Factor and Garrett 1991)
"If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed"
— Paulo Freire
People are hell bent on shutting down dialogue. Certain words have become so politicised that you are no longer able to say them. As a concession, you are only able to say them if you belong to the particluar sub-culture to which they refer. For example, there used to be a blog called "Suspect Paki". It was run by a Muslim. There is also a blog called "Trauma Queen" that is run by a gay para-medic.
These people have been party to a language hi-jack. They tell us that they can use a certain word, but I cannot. Thus, the basis of dialogue is slewed in favour of those who have more words at their disposal than me. There is somthing hostile about the way in which communities insist on having a language of their own. The two examples above are actually not very good, but they point to the primary problem, which is one of etymological hegemony.
Abortion has recently gotten the same treatment. A Californian Congresswoman, writing in the Huffington Post, has declared that
Abortion is is a word employed by intolerant people to cast shame on women who choose it.
This statement fields no alternatives, or even a rationale, it is merely accompanied by a sob story. This is not surprising because all arguments emanating from the Politically Correct are cleverly designed to bypass rationality and go straight to emotion. The liberal elite have no real philosophy to deliver, merely rant and rhetoric and because their arguments are so weak they rely on shutting down debate.
The aim of the Newspeak Dictionary in Orwell's book is clear, as told by Orwell himself:
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc -- should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.
So what I am saying is that whilst this hi-jacking of language may be justifiable on certain limited grounds, it does nothing to further dialogue.
We must be careful; people use terms that are dangerous and so cliched that they will only be taken in subliminally. I notice that Brian, in his post below, slips in one or two. His use of the term "religious nutter societies" offends not only me, but they will be something of a blow to the many religiously based organisations who have fought to make our society a better one.
Not all religious people are nutters. The "nutters" pushed for the abolition of slavery. The "nutters" have huge medical missions overseas who deal with anything from cataract operations to HIV/AIDS. The "nutters" refused to fight and instead volunteered for dangerous non-combatant duties during WW1 and WW2. The "nutters" are behind organisations like the Salvation Army, who provide, among other things, help to street prostitutes.
So, please don't tolerate etymological terrorism. Please do not slip in cliches that are not only offensive but actually highly inflammatory and hate-inspiring. If you tolerate this, one day, you will not only not notice what's going on, you will no longer have the words to express it.