Monday, December 01, 2003

The Weight of Word Choice

I clicked on the link to the article above on the basis of the title: "The Israeli Thought Police". Perhaps my own prejudice shows in the fact that I expected to find an article about the Israeli government suppressing the speech of Arab dissidents. However, what I did find presented an interesting study in "to-me"-ness on a cultural level.

General semantics contends that different people interpret the "same" experience based on their different personal histories. What might seem "harmless fun" to one person, for example, feels like "bullying" to another. In many cases, the deeper the history, the more dramatic the interpretation. The more dramatic the interpretation, the greater the distance between the object level and the verbal. Deep wounds lead to extreme evaluations that leave less partial observers with very little on which to base their own evaluations.

After reading the article, can you determine the "real" story behind it? Does Zahava Gal-On want to reduce tensions in Israel or does she want to suppress free speech? Does the author of article, Ariel Pasko, simply want to protect the rights of all Israelis or does she have a different standard for the Arab members of her culture?

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