I did not plan to write on the subject. But because my readings this week were about intention and impact, I thought that perhaps the thing between Will Smith and Chris Rock during the Oscars would help me understand something as complex as what is happening at this stage of our digital lives: anything that one says may be considered to be an offense, and even though one may not have the intention of offending, the impact of the perceived offense is more severe that the lack of intention.
In Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s book, The Coddling of the American Mind, the authors blend reflection and research about, among other things, the impact of political correctness in American higher education, and about the dynamic between intent and impact. Along the same lines, Darío Villanueva’s book, Biting One’s Tongue or Morderse la lengua, is also a rigorous essay about «political correctness and post-truth» (his subtitle). And the simultaneous reading of both helped me achieve a more complete (and complex) understanding of the path we are taking as much as in the educational realm as in our way of engaging verbally with one another.
According to The New York Times, the Oscars’ viewership increased by half a million in the moments following Smith’s blow to Rock–something that without a doubt says much about us as spectators, about what we want to see and why we want to see it. And even though opinions about this event are indescribably diverse, the truth is that for me they connected with my readings this week because if we believe that words are violence and understand that they must therefore be met with violence, then we will remain as we are, in secula seculorum.