(Snapshots of a society in transition written by the co-founder of afaqs!)
I read about Anurag Kashyap quitting twitter because people opposed to him politically had threatened his parents and his daughter.
This act brought home an irony about the use of language that hadn’t struck me before.
For the last several decades the cold hand of Political Correctness has been gradually throttling our speech. What began in the ‘80s as a means of getting more inclusive – if you spoke inclusively of the disadvantaged, you’d hopefully feel kindly about them too – took on a life of its own.
For example, ‘crippled’ was replaced with ‘handicapped’ which gave way to ‘disabled’ which then moved to ‘physically challenged’ and then to ‘differently abled’.
This is what psychologist and writer Steven Pinker calls a ‘euphemism treadmill’. Words which come into being to replace those that are considered unpleasant are soon viewed as offensive themselves.
The point is: we go to great lengths to ensure that our speech does not offend a group or community.
And yet millions of people are openly, casually and unthinkingly abusive on social media as the Anurag Kashyap case illustrates.
What explains the fact that political correctness and verbal abuse are both rampant at the same time, in the same society? I really wonder.