Political leaders and commentators must use appropriate language
This is in response to personality attacks of others by political leaders and a columnist and a few letter writers in KN (re comments that appeared in KN in recent weeks). Those speakers and writers must be assailed for their comments.
Speakers and writers are urged to use appropriate language and not to belittle or derogate others with whom they disagree. One can have differences and still be respectful. Some writers just don’t know how to be civil and respectful to others. They love name calling and character impugning as their writing style making intellectual exchanges difficult if not impossible.
In a competitive political system like ours, it is expected that leaders would critique and even attack (tear apart view of) their nemesis to win support. In a multi-party democracy as ours, political differences and rivalries between top leaders in the country are common. But these cannot be allowed to degenerate into personal vilification of opponents by calling them jackass, etc. Character assassination of one’s adversary does not raise one’s stature. One must show decorum and class in public behaviour and respect one’s opponents, no matter how much the disagreement is between each other.
Politicians should not use derogatory terms and name calling for their opponents. Such language does not appeal to voters and in fact turns off potential supporters as what happened in the election campaign in November 2011 when a lot of a party’s supporters were turned off by the viciousness of the tone of the campaign.
The kind of language one uses at public meetings is a measure of a person’s intellectual, political and moral upbringing and position. There is no room for coarse personality-driven language. In many campaigns, one’s electoral prospects are tied to one’s language usage. If any leader thinks he is endearing himself to voters by denigrating political opponents, he is living in a fool’s paradise.
While it was acceptable and fashionable to attack those who were with the dictatorship between 1966 and 1992 because of the political opportunism of those unsavory characters, such type of attacks don’t have much appeal in today’s modern environment when we have experienced 20 years of democratic rule.
Guyana’s democracy is maturing and voters are increasingly ignoring demagogy and counter demagogy as experienced in November 2011. Not all voters vote blindly or reflexively by race any more. The educated voters are making a difference and are looking for sensible policies and programs and/or a critique of policies pursued or not pursued by the government in order to cast their ballots – so one has to be careful with one’s tone of language.
A national leader unleashing a vicious attack on a former colleague with the expectation of getting political mileage is in bad taste and unacceptable. Leaders have enough verbal and political ammunition outside of using crass words to describe opponents. Saying things to get applause from party workers, colleagues, and supporters simply throws political decency to the wind and in so doing creates an adverse impact on people’s minds on voting for you.
Instead of attacking people personally, tackle their policies and programs and show how they are mistaken in their views and why yours is superior to theirs. That is a better way to express displeasure with another person’s position.
Politicians are doing a disservice to themselves and their party by using unkind language to paint others and making the public think otherwise of them than decent souls. The same can be said of individuals who write regularly in the press – be kind with words and refrain from attacking people – stick to issues not name calling or a person’s profession or line of work. One must be kind with the use of political language.