March 19th, 2012

Freedom of Speech <> 4. Call Us by Our True Names

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh
Call Me by My True Names by Thich Nhat Hanh

In his poem, Thich Nhat Hanh invites us to call him many names: suffering children, frog, grass snake, rapist, and several species of plant life.  He does this to awaken our compassion; and the poem does that.
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Here are some rules i am trying to follow:

1.  People who have done nothing wrong should be called only by such names as they have chosen for themselves.  It is not my place to label people.

2, People should not be labeled according to some characteristic which covers only some small portion 
of their identity (e.g. "gimp." or "brain.")

3..  Human beings should not be called by words which imply that they are less then human.  Sentient beings should not be labeled with terms which imply that they are "less sentient" than they are.  Life should not be regarded as though it were not life.

4.  Words which imply that violence can or should be used against a sentient being should not be used, e.g. "brute."

* Phaulisms = bad words. retrodefined from "ethnophaulisms," used by J.O. Hertzler to describe racist language.
antonymn of euphemism. 

Peace, love, compassion, and joy to all.