A subtle form of slander

2. Stigmatisation by Naming as the Manipulation of ‘Persuasive Definition’

The second give-away of a subconscious ‘parent-child’ model of authority is a way of labelling that has attached to it a strongly negative emotive content. We could call this ‘stigmatisation by naming’, a phrase coined by one of my wise friends with social work experience.

Arguably, if I labelled somebody a Swansea ‘Jack’, somebody from Swansea could take it as a compliment. If I labelled somebody as a ‘criminal’, however, then I could create a very negative emotional reaction in others about somebody who, as it happened, had only got caught stealing a Mars bar. I would be using the negative emotional connotation of the word ‘criminal’ as a way of taking revenge by causing others to reject somebody.

This is a subtle form of slander, which adds a negative value-judgement to mere false testimony. It is also a potentially disguised slander in that only a single word has been used. That is, by using a certain name or term, it is easy to stigmatise somebody without looking like you are doing so.

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Labels as manipulation

  1. Labelling as the Very Definition of Manipulation

First, there is the clue of self-deceptive and manipulative ‘labelling’ of others. For example, if a congregation member writes a letter about an issue to the church leadership, and they are either ignored or labelled as ‘God’s awkward squad’, then an attitude of superiority has been assumed.

If the reply is given, ‘but they really are from God’s awkward squad’, then the chances are that the self-deception on the part of leaders concerning their own ‘more mature’ status is even more deeply ingrained and subconscious. Thiselton reminds us that Gadamer, a very important philosopher, defined ‘manipulation’ in terms of

the reduction of people to passive objects, subsuming them beneath a ‘prior netting’ of imposed categories, assumptions, stereotypifications, artificial constructs, closed statements, superficial generalising explanations, or pigeon-holes.

This is a way of ‘apprehending’ somebody without listening to them. In short, we cannot tell what or who a person is until we know them very well. Whenever we ‘label’ somebody before we know them very well, then we are committing the sin of false testimony. This is not ‘a’ way of manipulation, but the very definition of manipulation, according to Gadamer.

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Propaganda

Two farmers were leaning against a fence staring intensely at the horizon of a field where you could just make out the sheep, and there seemed to be a problem, but they couldn’t quite see it, so one famer said to the other, “I’m going to go over there and ‘ave a proper ganda!”

A “proper ganda” in this South West England meaning is to have a closer look, to begin to see what is really going on. Propaganda, on the other hand, is precisely the opposite. It is designed to obscure, to blur and hide. And we humans are surrounded by propaganda all the time, not least in the heated culture wars of the West where Critical Theories have played their hand for decades and are now calling in the chips of chaos and disorder.

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Storm Centres of History: Parliament and Brexit

BBC Radio Devon – Pause for Thought:  Storm Centres

During the Pause For Thought this week, I’ve been talking about 7 places I have been to:   Storm-centres of history.

Today, on our final visit, we will go to the British Parliament.

On Wednesday 27th March this year, I attended PMQ’s with my father at the Houses of Parliament (with thanks to Torbay MP Kevin Foster and his team for arranging this)!

 

This date was significant.  This was the Wednesday before the Friday of the original departure from the EU.  It was very exciting to be there, which in the end, turned out to be not quite the bear pit I had anticipated.  

 

 

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