Discussion: Divided by Language: The Politics of Words

7:00pm, October 28, 2022

Left, right, man, woman, gender, cancel, racism, violence, harm, safety, hate - these are among the words at the center of the most heated arguments in society today. Yet it seems the crux of the conflict is often lack of clarity and agreement about what these words actually mean, causing opposing sides to misunderstand and talk past each other. The uses and associations of basic English words are rapidly changing, and relatively new words and phrases are gaining currency in the debates while their meanings are still unclear to many people - woke, alt-right, nonbinary, TERF, Karen. Phrases such as "pro life/choice" and "black/blue/all lives matter" have become slogans for political teams whose connotations are increasingly removed from their literal meanings.

Words map to concepts, the understanding of things that we hold in our minds. They shape the way that we view the world. If you believe that the word "marriage" necessarily implies union between one man and one women, then it's difficult to imagine a world where same-sex marriage is acceptable. If you assume that a "right-wing" person must be a racist or authoritarian then it's difficult to consider their political opinions with an open mind. Do you say "pro-life", "pro-birth", or "anti-choice"? Just as armies fight to control strategic land on the battlefield, political teams fight to control strategic words and weaponize their definitions.

How do words get twisted for political ends? What are the pitfalls of language? How can we become better political actors? Watch what you say!

Join us for fun, friendly and substantive discussion about the important topics of the day. All opinions are welcome for this friendly, moderated discussion.