Category Archives: Political Correctness

Language misuse

As a millennial I often here many member of my generation using these two words very often as a means to shut down an argument ‘islamophobia’ and ‘homophobia’ (I won’t go into any of the others because they keep adding to them and we’d be here all day!). I want to have a look at their meanings.

Let’s look first at the dictionary definition of phobia- The word phobia comes from the Greek: φόβος (phóbos), meaning “aversion”, “fear”, or “morbid fear”. In popular culture, it is common for specific phobias to be given a name based on a Greek word for the object of the fear, plus the suffix -phobia. (taken from google.). If we delve a little deeper we can see that Phobos a Greek god.He was the Greek personification of fear, flight and panic.

So let’s look at these words ‘homo’ which comes from the Greek meaning ‘same’ which has developed to mean ‘same sex attraction’ and ‘Islam’ describes the religion and ideology of Islam. It is important to note that nowhere here are these two words referencing ‘Muslims’ or ‘gay people themselves’ but rather ‘a feeling of attraction between certain people’ and a ‘specific ideology’.

So after breaking this down in this way we can see that ‘homophobia’ is ‘a morbid fear and panic of two people having same sex attraction’ and ‘Islamophobia’ is a morbid fear and panic of ‘Islam’. These two terms are very widespread these days and are often used by people who have little or no knowledge of the meanings, of historical concept, or just don’t like to be challenged. As a linguist it is always my duty to question and break down different ideas that we have about language to show the truth. In my mind there is no word to describe someone who ‘doesn’t want same sex attraction to be promoted due to biblical principles’. Everyone whom I know who has this view has never had a morbid fear, panic or hatred of gay people. In fact these people have open arms towards everyone regardless. Likewise everyone I know who disagrees with Islam would never have a fear or a hatred of Muslims (I am not denying it, that there are people who hate Muslims and gay people although I have never met a single one of them myself. My job is only to question how our language is used.).

Therefore, maybe from a linguistic point of view we need a new word because perhaps to a certain extent English has lost a lot of descriptive language or a lot has fallen out of use. However, I think it’s really important that we don’t go around liberally throwing around words that we don’t really know the meanings of. It’s important to tackle hatred aimed at a particular individual but hatred is never going to be tackled by calling people names or hurling insults anyway. The hatred I see is the hatred coming from those people who seek to use these words liberally  as an insult to anyone that questions their way of thinking and who seek to close down anything that challenges their viewpoint.

It just makes Jesus words so relevant when he said ‘Take the plank out of your own eye before you take the needle out of someone else’s’ (Matthew 7:5). While many are concerned with doing just that there is a distinctive, rising, spiritual movement, popular among young people today that seeks to do the exact opposite.

Nevertheless the good news is that although they may continue to do this their power is weakening. They have had their time and now it’s time for the power of God to shake the planet like never before, to break down misconceptions, to shake off hatred, to rock the world until political correctness is but a thing of the past. His glory will come but we need to make sure we are right with God first so let’s first take the plant out of our eyes’ and then we may see from a different perspective.

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Freedom or Feelings

What is hate speech?  

Hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.

This on first glance may look like a very obvious and straight forward definition and a great idea. I mean who wouldn’t want to challenge hateful speech. However, when we look at it in greater detail it’s not as simple as we first thought. From 2008 the EU made a decision to combat racism and xenophobia. All western European countries now have hate-speech laws. The European concept of freedom of expression thus prohibits certain content viewpoints, whereas, with certain exceptions, other countries are generally concerned solely with direct provocation which usually has the consequences of explicit acts of lawlessness towards another person. Not so long ago in the past European states and the U.S. had a common view that human rights should be the priority rather than restraining freedom of expression.

However, many people do possess good intentions in their battle against ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘homophobia’ etc… the roots of ‘anti hate speech laws’ are anything but well meaning. The introductions of laws that prohibit free speech were welcomed with open arms and actively promoted by the Soviet Union and various other countries during the previous century. They used these laws to their full advantage to block any opposing viewpoints. Currently we can see this happening in places like North Korea (which is barely ever criticized by many university students along with Fidel Castro which I will explain about later).

Nevertheless it’s not a new concept, only confined to the walls of the 20th century. In fact if we look a little further back in history we can see that even in the expansive Roman Empire there were a great many emperors who sought to reduce free speech to nothing more than a memory in people’s minds. The quest for freedom and revelation is also closely followed by the quest for power and control over people’s minds as the ultimatum.

However, my goal is not to produce a 10,000 word essay on the history and the ins and outs of communism, facism, hate speech and free speech but rather to give you my insights as to what this means for Christians today. As you can see ‘hate speech’ is extremely loosely designed but this is not without a purpose. If the elite, lobby groups and central government can close down opposing views then it gives them the reign on entering even the most private parts of our daily lives. God on the other hand gives us the freedom to choose Him or not. He is the ultimate advocate for free speech. When we curse him or throw insults at our neighbours He doesn’t smite us down and give us a sentence. He gives us chance after chance. In fact He gives us our whole lives as an opportunity to choose him. He waits patiently seeing something beautiful in each of us regardless of our faults.

“But what about those people who offend, threaten or insult different minority groups?” you say. “Shouldn’t they be punished?”. The problem is stopping judging them doesn’t stop at just that and this view seeks to in fact judge the ‘other’. It is an order instead of an opinion because instead of living out your life and not judging people you are imposing this on others. This is a very hypercritical stance. While I certainly don’t think people should go around insulting one another and inciting hatred (I am talking about speech and not physical violence which should never be condoned) these people unfortunately should have the right as you do to express an opinion. However, in the majority of times ‘hate speech’ is used to defend a stance where one person is offended by something the other person has said. We as human beings do not have the right not be offended because we choose offense with our will and if we choose offense then perhaps half of the problem is with us and we have things we need to loosen from our souls.

The Oxford Dictionary has chosen “post-truth” as its word of the year for 2016. “Post-truth” is defined as a culture where “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. This illustrates to us that people and especially young people today are much more likely to base their opinion on how they are feeling in that moment than on the relevance of the statement or its truth. However, we can see that this has drastic consequences for free speech and it’s becoming more and more common here in the UK to shut down opposing viewpoints. As Christians our speech should always be full of light and love but it should be based on God’s truths. Unfortunately the truth can and will offend people. It is true that a statement you hear in the morning may not offend you but at the end of a long, stressful and demanding day that same statement might make you extremely irate.  We need to be careful that we always listen to people’s opinions and respect the individual’s right to free speech but we ourselves should never be afraid to speak the truth in love.

Finally, the reality is one person’s words may be another person’s door to freedom or they may be an offensive stream of drivel. We cannot go around loosely defining words due to our current feelings. Feelings are deceptive. I know many people who have been in toxic and abusive relationships who were trapped there because of their ‘feelings’. Feelings can also be wonderful too and a great way to connect with God. However, we should always make sure our faith is defined by the Truth.

We are living in a world where the darkness will manifest in greater ways but there is much hope. In the bible it promises “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” John 1:5 (NIV). This means that whatever happens the light will always be greater and thus we should always speak out of hope and not fear. As the body of Christ it’s time to take up our mantle and follow him speaking in love and truth to a confused and suffering world.

 

Ankhi Das (2016) found at www.indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/best-antidote-to-fake-news-and-hate-speech-is-more-speech-4452346/

Jacob Mchangama (2011) found at www.hoover.org/research/sordid-origin-hate-speech-laws