Othering people – why seeing the person behind the label is an essential skill17 October, 2022
“We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way aaluess we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal”.Karl Popper
Say what you will of mister Popper, but this very argument by him is where I, Kitty, started my journey out of defending free speech at all costs . Because free speech is indeed important to a civilised and democratic society. But there are other rights worth considering as well. Other rights that are equally important if not more so. And the community I wish to be a part of is certainly a community where speaking one’s mind is encouraged. But not if it denies the basic human rights of others and equality of all people.
And defending free speech might be essential, but not all speech is equally valuable. Just like humour, free speech serves its purpose when it punches up. When it is used to criticise those in power. When it is a weapon wielded to keep those in power in check. It stops serving its purpose, just like humour, when it punches down, at the vulnerable, the oppressed and the excluded.
More so, the way we speak moulds the way we see ourselves and others. I want to be part of a community that moulds itself to including everyone. I want my language to help me grow myself into a gentler and kinder human being. I want my language to make others feel safe around me, not excluded and fearful.
Finally, there are spaces that lend themselves to questioning of all kinds. Where you can ask questions that might be offensive to some. I don’t aim to create such a space at Influx. This space in particular is meant to be a space of togetherness and community for all those that society would judge and exclude. I strongly believe we should not exclude our own. When faced with someones whose existence goes contrary to deeply held beliefs we have, I want to create a space where curiosity wins out over judgement.