On Political Correctness and Dumbing-Down
Some opinions on the use of language:
British historian Adam Nicholson once commented, “A language has died once it is driven by a desire to please.” I believe an author should never write to please - not themselves, nor some anticipated audience –merely for the sake of acceptance. [Yes indeed, please yourself in the act of creating; but that's different]
In much of Western culture various influences - economic, social, political, ethical, even literary – contribute to the ‘Dumbing Down’ of otherwise creative individuals. The twin parasites of Political Correctness [the desire to please] and the Info-tainment Media [superficiality] suck the meaning out of languages. We seem much too ready to ‘please’ - to conform, and to accept hollow and paltry language as a substitute for language that truly instructs, informs, moves us to action, challenges our apathy, and sometimes even entertains us.
All of us need, and desire, relationality: to actually be valued and respected unconditionally by someone else. That requires communication, and communication requires real language. Real language, language that grows and breathes till it transforms writer and reader alike, is taut with a sense of its own significance. Much of the language we use today - street language, rap, political-speak, sound bytes and slang – is flaccid, mere substitutes for meaning. This creates actual barriers to communication. Language that seeks to be acceptable to a modern consciousness, that submits to its audience, rather than shaking them by the scruff of the proverbial neck, is no longer a language that can carry the freight the society requires its authors to deliver. Such a gutless language has lost all of its authority.
In prose or poetry, real language is important. Don’t allow yourself to be Dumbed Down. Go on, Booksie writer – transform us: shake us by the scruff of the proverbial neck; instruct, inform, move us to action, challenge our apathy, and entertain us. But don’t try to ‘please’ us.
James Gagiikwe [no ©]
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