Thinking today seems more endangered than ever. Deep and contemplative reflection is in recession. Language itself has, with the prevalence of new technologies and social media, become what George Steiner called “a vulgarization, a mendacity of words and syntax.” If language is indeed a defining attribute of what is human, our current use of it to stigmatize and categorize can only, in the end, dehumanize.
When NARAL Pro-Choice America decided to target pro-life pregnancy care centers at the center of a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, it gave them the pejorative label of “fake women’s health centers” and created the social-media hashtag: #endthelies. I do not know what makes women “fake” or what need fake women have of a health center; nor do I know what makes a health center “fake” any more than a steak dinner is “fake.” Never mind the missing hyphen and the missing logic in the label. NARAL apparently hadn’t thought about the perfect opportunity its hashtag presented for a pro-life riposte: “I think you meant #endthelives.” “Hey @NARAL, fixed your typo: #endthelives.”
Whether - NARAL - Implications - Hashtag - Motive
Whether or not NARAL put much thought into the implications of its hashtag, the motive of its campaign was quite clear: to denounce “the Other” and rally the members of its own in-group. Perhaps more significantly, in reducing a reasonable but disputable social argument to the anti-rhetoric of a hashtag, NARAL signaled its determination to avoid rational argument. As Alan Jacobs describes it, the use of this “keyword”—certainly not a practice restricted to one wing of the political spectrum—demonstrates an investment “for the moment anyway, in not thinking.” And it is a not-thinking that completely undermines its own goal: rather than ending any lies about health centers, public attention has been focused instead on NARAL’s own project to end the lives of the unwanted unborn....
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