Sensitivity for unchaste language

Published on 27 March 2023 at 13:07

A Florida school principal was forced to resign last week for showing students "pornographic" material during a Renaissance art class. The "pornographic" material consisted of a photograph of Michelangelo's world-famous "David" statue. We may chuckle at this, but the sad truth is that parents who don't want to expose their children (or themselves?) to "sexuality" now feel supported by a law banning sex education in public schools. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of the Republican party plays a leading role in this. He is charismatic, good looking, power hungry, intelligent, efficient, populist and has many followers. What does this remind you of? Right, the hallmarks of a supervillain.
The forced dismissal of the school director is an example of a series of incidents, also in the Netherlands. School leaders, Universities (sic!) and publishers fear repercussions from society if they are associated with sexually suggestive texts or images. The same applies to words that are not gender neutral or that can offend a population group. The problem here is that usually the text or the person who wrote the text is removed without discussion. For writers, this could mean that they not only have to deal with an editor, but also with a chastity committee. Such a committee has other motives than the writer. The writer wants to use words that have a function for the text or serve as an atmosphere drawing. In the past, 'chastity commissions' were mainly about 'decency'. Whether nowadays chasting handels exclusively about politically correct language seems unlikely to me. It is also questionable whether it is possible to avoid all sexual terms and not to hurt anyone.
As an example I would like to mention the 'Kittelbloem' or 'Clitoria ternatea' and 'Mother-in-law's cushion' or 'Echinocactus grusonii'. Can we still sow the beautiful Kittelbloem?  And mothers-in-law, there are a great many of them, shouldn't you be rioting against the name 'Mothers-in-laws cushion'?
To me, chasting and censorship are an extension of each other and affect not only the autonomy of the writer, but also that of the reader. Readers are very capable of distinguishing which texts are beautiful, innocent or funny and which are intended to hurt.





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