On censorship/societal paradigms


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

There is an interesting synchronicity happening between my local work and
this list.

Lately, the list is discussing how we view the motives of people like George
Bush and also the kind of censorship which happens in our media. Meanwhile,
just this morning I wrote a letter-to-the-editor about very local realities,
but which touches on the same issues.

Looking at the way my own world view has changed and continues to change, I
see how important it is how we talk about things. Once we see the "truth",
once we get a glimpse of how capitalism, media bias, the "Taker" ideology,
etc. all collude to lead us toward destroying the earth, it becomes very
tempting to use strong language to denounce the "destroyers" and what they
are doing. But I think we must resist this temptation. In the name of being
honest, we could alienate people who, ultimately, are just like "us" and who
we must never give up on.

I think I can best explain this by citing another example. When I was in
college, some 20 years ago, I used the masculine pronoun to include both
sexes and my professor corrected me, explaining that this language was
sexist. However, I wanted to kind of "co-opt" the masculine language and to
make it inclusive, as I think many people did indeed use it at that time.
With indsight, though, I see that the rethinking involved in using both
pronouns was very educational for our society and I now use inclusive
pronouns. (Note: I am a woman.)

I gather something similar has happened with the use of "Negro", "black" and
other terms.

In any case, seeing how language evolves, I think it is totally
counterproductive to react with anger towards those who choose language that
is politically incorrect, unless you can be quite sure that the person doing
do is working to undermine the development of a healthier paradigm.
Similarly, while it can be highly entertaining for those of us who are more
politically "up-to-date" to see how people can misunderstand our
enlightenment (:>)!, I would never want to embarrass someone who didn't
quite "get it". 

At the risk of going one for too long, let me copy below two "Enviro-ideas"
I wrote for local publication, one of which was "censored":
Responsible ATV use

If not used properly, ATV's can cause considerable damage to the

It is especially important that ATV users avoid all wetlands including lake
and river shorelines. These special areas are known as the "ribbon of life".
They provide excellent wildlife habitat, reduce the danger of flooding and
act as environmental filters. 

Another sensitive area is sand dunes and beaches.  

ATV users can make an important contribution to habitat conservation
by avoiding sensitive habitats and using established trails.
ATV-users, please stick to roads 

& stay out of parks and protected areas.

Streams and ponds are being turned into mud holes because people with time
and money to burn are ripping through the woods with ATVs.

Using motor vehicles, including ATVs, is a privilege, not a right.
In the end, I didn't even feel that bad about rejecting the second one,
which could have offended some advertisers in the publication the
"Enviro-ideas" are printed in. I am still sharing the strongly worded piece
though, because I think it is important that people _feel_ how frogs and
mayflowers are being destroyed, how people are being desensitized, as they
roar through the woods... But I think those of us who can feel the pain of
that, must not allow our pain to incite us to lash out towards those who
don't feel the pain. We have to find more creative ways to respond. In my
case, I realize how thankful I am to my parents, who fostered my love of
nature, and I am starting a local nature club.

Ultimately, I would argue that it is very important that we consider our
audience and the stage of "enlightenment" of our world and ourselves, and
speak accordingly.

Just this morning, I wrote a letter-to-the-editor, which fits in here:
Dear Editor,

Every morning I go for a walk in the woods. I suppose, those woods are like
my "church", where I go to pray and seek guidance for each new day.

This spring it has been painful to see the damage being done to "my" woods
by people roaring through the woods on ATV's. I wrote a fairly strongly
worded "Enviro-idea" for the Clare Shopper about this, but in the end, we
decided to use something more toned down.

I do not really consider this "censorship" for if my words would offend
someone they would not really help protect the woods anyhow. On the other
hand, it struck me as indicative of the values of our society that one must
be careful not to offend potential "customers" and yet very few Canadians do
anything to prevent their government from violating human rights of people
protesting the way war criminals were wined and dined at government expense
during the APEC summit in Vancouver in 1997. And very few are trying to
prevent our government from using similar tactics against people like myself
who care enough about their children's future to be willing to put their
bodies on the line to defend it. 

I have heard that pepper spray (which one person who did police training
says is apparently so horrible you feel like dying) and some kind of bullets
may be used to disperse crowds at the upcoming FTAA summit in Quebec city.
Is this how we want our tax dollars spent?

On the other hand, there are signs that citizens are waking up. Some
university students will be allowed to defer exams in order to attend the
protests. The mayor of Quebec City has decided to open community centres to
protesters (given that apparently the federal government has bought up just
about every hotel room in sight as part of its attempt to keep people
out.... is this how we want tax money spent?)

Locally, I know of 4 people who are planning to go to the FTAA summit to
support efforts to derail corporate globalization and others who can't go
have sked me how they can contribute to the costs of those who are going. I
think we have reason to be hopeful.

Sincerely, Jan Slakov, Weymouth, NS 837-4980
Now, what about the language we use when speaking about the economy?

Even now, I find it hard to feel happy when I hear the stock market is going
"down" or that recession is coming. And yet, I fully support the work of
people like Mike Nickerson (see sig below) who are trying to help us see
(and in a very non-offensive way, I might add) that recession/depression is
what we want!

But we won't call it that! What we want is simpler, more fulfilling lives.
We want to live lightly on the land, to live close to nature. We want

And even if we can't succeed, we are going to have great fulfilling lives
just trying, aren't we? 

all the best, Jan
"There is only one power available to citizens
which does not require great wealth or the use of violence.
It is the power of collective persuasion.
It works on the subtle levels of thought and conversation
and it works directly through democracy."


7th Generation Initiative
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