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HAT Forum - Harmful Language - Words as Violence

  • The 519. Rm 303 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

The concept of language has been fluid one within western culture, and over the last thirty years our concept of the impact of language has evolved and changed. The latest chapter of this evolution considers the power of words to cause harm. Over time we have gone from a culture that celebrates the concept of “Sticks and Stones my break my bones but words will never hurt me” to a concept that “certain language causes harm and perpetuates violence, not that it “offends” people.”

1)      Can words inflict harm on an individual or groups of individuals on the same moral level as physical harm?

2)      Are free speech and concepts like trigger warnings or safe spaces in opposition?

3)      Why is this concept seeing elevated consideration now?

For information relevant to this topic please consider the following articles:

Microaggressions Explained (Video)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPCGNDaE7MA

Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces and Free Speech https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/opinion/trigger-warnings-safe-spaces-and-free-speech-too.html

Unsafe Space: The Crisis of Free Speech on Campus  https://books.google.ca/books?id=vdP7CwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA63&ots=YCFVBTNuYZ&dq=trigger%20warning%20silence%20opposition&pg=PA63#v=onepage&q=trigger%20warning%20silence%20opposition&f=false