Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Verbal Abuse in Public Discourse

Verbal abuse (definition): harsh and insulting language directed at a person
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Emotional abuse (definition): the denial of a person's feelings, abilities, value, worth, or relevance.
(Adapted from medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary)

Much of American public 'discussion' is more accurately characterized as public verbal abuse and emotional abuse. It's difficult to think of a political campaign -- or so-called news reporting -- that isn't saturated with unhealthy amounts of abuse. (And everybody notices the other side more than their own, because the barbs thrown by the other side are received as hurtful, but the barbs thrown by the partisan's own side are savored as satisfying.) It's so widespread that even popular children's authors may routinely dehumanize the "bad" characters, and people with respected positions within Christianity may try to bring people to their view of the Old Testament, or Second Temple Judaism, or the New Perspective on Paul, by throwing the "anti-Semitic" smear -- an unsubtle comparison to Nazi genocidal maniacs committing crimes against humanity. (With a passing wave at the boy who cried 'wolf', let's save the "anti-Semitic" label for people who actually didn't have a problem with the Holocaust.)

There has been much said during the current campaign season about cultural decay and/or cultural progress (describing the same events from opposing perspectives). I wish the Christians, at least, could agree: we at least can refrain from verbal abuse and emotional abuse. 

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