Verbal Self-Defense 2

I wanted to say a few more things about Suzette Haden Elgin’s system for ‘verbal self-defense’. The central idea she presents is that we can use language to create an abusive environment, or we can use language to create a non-abusive environment. Where the ‘self-defense’ comes in is when you’re in a situation with someone who is being abusive – there are some ways to feed the abuse or escalate it, and other ways to basically deprive it of oxygen.

Elgin has made an overview handout here.

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Verbal Self-Defense

I think political debates are often important. I would do more debates if I had appropriate venues. I engage in debates even when they are unpleasant. But I often get the feeling that they are unnecessarily unpleasant. The unpleasantness, in other words, isn’t a function of the disagreements, or of the vehemence of the disagreements, or even, in some cases, of the vileness of the people involved. I have, after all, had reasonably smooth interactions with people I think are vile (and no, I’m not going to name names) and with people who I suspect had nothing but contempt for me.

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