A large part of reclaiming a narrative is reframing or discrediting language that historically has been used to demean certain groups and diminish their power in society. Authoritarians, especially Trump, bristle at the notion of political correctness, which is to say a call for greater sensitivity in the language one uses publicly in mixed company. And in today’s always connected and increasingly global society, there’s rarely a time when we’re not in mixed company.
As someone who orientates himself and makes sense of the world primarily through language, I consider words to be nearly sacred in their power. In my younger, more idealistic years, I attributed even greater power to them, believing to my core that a right and true combination of words could solve any predicament or right any wrong. Though I no longer believe such a romantic notion, I still believe that words, carefully chosen, have an undeniable power. Given this, one would think, even in this Land of the Free with the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment, that we would hold those responsible and accountable for the language they use in public discourse. To enforce such accountability, however, we must agree that language does, indeed, have power, and thus carries consequences with its use. One need only sample the vile rhetoric flatulating from the bowels of this year’s presidential election, predominantly on the Republican side where personal attacks abound and lie upon lie stands uncorrected, to see that accountability has gone out the window. The inflammatory language flung like shit by the media zoo monkeys and the politicians they cover amounts to a cacophony of noise and nonsense that only serves to isolates us from each other and tear us apart.