Kaieteur News – Elocution diction and oratory are often confused with intelligence. Those who can speak well are often believed to be intelligent.
Elocution refers to the skill of distinct, clear and effective pronunciation and speech. Diction refers to the particular choice of words, and oratory simply means the skill in public speaking.
There are individuals who are gifted speakers in the sense that they have excellent pronunciation. When they speak their words and phrases are distinct and they are effective in sounding these out. And many of them are extremely proficient in public speaking.
But the ability to speak well must never be confused with sound reasoning. It is not unusual, I believe, to find some of the best orators having defective reasoning and unsound arguments.
Sometimes when persons are asked a question which requires thoughtful response, they find themselves being unable to offer an intelligent response and so what they do is to string some nice-sounding words together in the hope that it will pass muster.
And in so doing, sometimes the most eloquent amongst us end up saying things which end up sounding absurd, embarrassing or even shocking. Following the death of Prince Phillip, earlier this month, a number of columns have been featuring his mangy gaffes. One of the most notorious was his comment in Canada in 1969: “I declare this thing open, whatever it is.”
Prince Phillip, however, would never pretend to know more than he did know. He may have made numerous inappropriate remarks but you would never find him trying to transpose one concept from one field to another.
This transposition seems now to have become a par for course. Take for example a concept in international relations known as self-determination. The notion of self-determination in international relations is different from that in politics and psychology and therefore it is not advisable to interchange their conceptual meanings.
In human psychology, self-determination has different connotation than in international relation as politics. The renowned psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, Kendra Cherry, has described self-determination as having to do with the factors which motivate persons in the choices and decisions they make.
But in psychology this is more concerned with the motivations of how people learn, work; connect with other people and master skills. It is not really meant to be applied in relation to the political choices which people make. There are other theories which attempt to explain such choices and are thus more appropriate to understanding political choices.
In international law – concerned with relations between states – self-determination refers to the right of the people of any state to determine their own political future and to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. This is another way of saying that the people of any state have a right to sovereign Independence.
Self-determination is also used in relation to the rights of certain peoples living in areas which have been annexed or claimed by other states. The Palestinians have been fighting for self-determination – the right to administer in their own affairs and to have their own state. The Polisario people are still fighting for self-determination. The PPP, which has long championed the cause of the Polisario Front, has now de-recognised that body and sided with the Moroccans. The people of the Falklands are claiming the right to self-determination, as is the case in East Timor and Eritrea.
Self-determination is also used in reference to the internal affairs of states. In this sense it refers to right of persons to choose their political structure, mostly towards more democratic as opposed to totalitarian or authoritarian systems. The West would like the world to believe that the Arab Spring was a multi-state movement for more democratic governance.
Since 1989, there has been a movement towards more the promotion of democratic systems within states. As such there has arisen another notion of self-determination in relation to the internal right of people to freely elect a government of their choice.
Self-determination in this regard is about the right to a democratic system. It is not about the political parties which people opt for in the exercise of this choice. The concept of self-determination, therefore, I respectfully submit, is not appropriate for discussing the partisan choices of the electorate.
People have a right to their choices. The essence of democracy is about respecting those choices. People have a right to try to understand and to explain those choices; but not a right to perpetuate, publicly, bigoted explanations or to misapply the concept of self-determination in so doing.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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