why are so many people accepting the frame and playing along? Because people are afraid to come up with a better term to define political correctness; in part, because of the nature of political correctness. There is opposition to recognition that these terms are not helping.

Do any readers have any successful efforts to acknowledge how woke is harming progressive messages and how the whole political correctness movement has to be re-framed, and re-messaged. BTW, what is a one word criticism of how the Right is using woke and political correctness? "I am anti-MAGA, for example, does not work. from a proud progressive.

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Mar 17·edited Mar 17

But I don’t think it’s merely *incidental* that this word had its origin in Black American English. I think that’s a major aspect of its “stickiness” as a meme. It’s fun for the reactionary psyche to mock Black speech in a covert and deniable way.

In a political context where this dimension is sometimes overstated and overplayed, I wonder if it might be rhetorically effective to point at the casual racism that forms part of the epithet’s appeal.

I’m absolutely not suggesting an approach along the lines of, “You said ‘woke’ derisively, therefore you are a racist.” That direct confrontational approach is not serving any effective political goal, other than being sticky for liberals. (Liberals who are *not* racist? It’s our culture that’s racist, nobody is free of our culture’s racist norms and assumptions. No matter how much we attack and project.)

Something more subtle and evocative. Illustrated through an instance or interaction. A message that, in the telling, requires circumspection. A mirror, not an accusation.

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On the definition of "political correctness", Encyclopædia Britannica has an interesting entry, which throws light on its original positive sense (it cites the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis):

‘Linguistically, the practice of what is called “political correctness” seems to be rooted in a desire to eliminate exclusion of various identity groups based on language usage. According to the Sapir-Whorf, or Whorfian, hypothesis, our perception of reality is determined by our thought processes, which are influenced by the language we use. In this way language shapes our reality…’

ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA on ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS’ (https://www.britannica.com/topic/political-correctness)

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What is our take-away? How do we frame this when we engage with it on social media?

(1) I feel like there is a pretty common Republican technique that I don't have a name for yet. For the moment I'll call it "gooey" language. Woke means ... what they want it to mean. For example:

Woke means abolish the police and Biden is woke, even though Biden doesn’t want to abolish the police.

They've long been doing this with Socialism and Communism, trying to connect a healthcare system like Sweden has to Stalinist Communism, instead of to ... Sweden.

What word should we be using? [Longer: https://cognitivepolitics.org/blog/what-our-frame-gooey-words-and-phrases-taken-over-conservatives ]

(2) It seems to me like Lakoff is the center of the effort to reframe communications on the progressive side. So,

- Is there a packet of what should volunteers be doing? If I read blogs like this I very slowly understand your ideas. But I'm not ready to leave a response to a question on the news on or on Reddit saying "Here's what woke means: <link>." We need that organized!

- I'd also love to see the linguistic framing ideas here merged with the experts in therapy and psychology and teaching, who are also out there with different great ideas, and turned into one guide by all the folks providing messaging, and then give us folks who are out there a plan on what hashtags to push viral, how to reach family or write better comments.

Yes, I'll VOLUNTEER to help with this. I've tried to offer helping a couple times! (Anyone else out there want help to create the Democrats' message machine, if the DNC is too lazy to do it themselves?)

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I think you are missing a very important point in your attempt to get to the meaning of this word, namely the negative connotations that many people, not just from the right, associate with it. I think that for me and a lot of people, the word woke has the connotation "fake", as in a display of consciousness or awareness of certain "social injustice or political issues" that have to do only with identity issues and not with larger class issues, namely issues that are not objectionable to the ruling elites, represented by the Democratic party in the US, i.e. to those who have an interest in making sure that no significant changes take place that redistribute the country's wealth. Attempting to define "woke" without this context is futile, in my view.

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A BBC series on historical use of woke.


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All of the thoughtful responses, including mine, fall victim to Brandolini's law--Difficulty of refuting false or misleading information. It takes no effort to call me woke, with all its negative connotations; it will take me considerable energy to explain and defend my beliefs. Meanwhile, 'woke' remains imprinted. When politicians and right wing media use 'woke', I try to use words like 'awake' and 'alert' to the disinformation. Easier said than done.

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"Metaphors go completely over his head" "Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it"- Guardians of the galaxy

Words don't contain meaning, the relationships (between people) classify their content. So every communication contains meta-communication. All communication is inherently metaphorical, if you catch my meaning.

The use of words like "woke" in politics signals for me pathological communication (yes, I'm a big fan of Paul Watzlawick). To paraphrase Star Trek: "it's logical, Jim, but not as we use it".

We use words ALSO to delimit or define relationships and belonging. It's actually not so much different from Putin of Xi limiting the use of words to "contain" people. And vice versa.

Our use of (digital) logic - either you're in or not-in - excludes a third. Not only are you in, out or both (or actually neither), you also belong to overlapping categories. Categories - also "right" or "left" - are fictions.

As long as people believe in fictions (right is right and left is wrong), it works. Or actually, the other way around: when a fiction works (for us) we assume it's a fact, it's true. The word "fiction" and "fact" both come from the Latin facere, to make. We make up fictions that work for a fact.

I've studied physics, and I learned that Newton invented gravity. There was no force of gravity before Newton. Apples did fall and the moon went around the earth, but nobody had thought of "gravitas". The concept stuck, because the math works. We get desired results, like a person (;-)) on the moon. But still, an apple, falling from her tree, doesn't obey the law of gravity because of gravity police.

Thanks to language we can say "not", but we cannot do "not". When you say to someone: "you don't belong here", they still are. We needs others to define ourselves.

In Dutch we use the word "behoren" or "being heard" - horen is to hear - for "belonging". I can hear if somebody belongs to the Dutch (say "Scheveningen") language group.

People want to belong, but actually need to "be heard", or "given a voice". You can now see the inherent paradox of democracy: having a vote differs from having a voice. In democracy we act as-if people have a "say". And in an autocracy, a theocracy, a bureaucracy, ... one's "un-listened to".

Here is my most favourite metaphor:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

(I like an explanation of Martin Gardner: you have to pay with attention to words).

Communication is pragmatic. When using words that get a desired result of other in behaviour, we'll use these words. This is how language evolved. It's a tool for coordinating actions.

So the situation - I never use the word problem, when something cannot be solved - with words like woke is the pathological pattern of symmetrical and complementary interactions (Bateson). In symmetrical interactions (left versus right) we get escalations; in complementary interactions (right with left) we get stagnations. A classical case of double bind: you cannot live with them nor without them.

Did nobody notice the 50-50 balance in parliaments?

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Mar 21·edited Mar 21

I think you're on the wrong track here. There's nothing wrong with the term woke. It just means you're not asleep or have your head up your ass. The Republicans are the ones who are having a hard time "defining" it. Their definition will be the opposite of what woke means. Why let them redefine or undefine a perfectly good and descriptive term? We need to refer to them as "asleep": Dead to the world and unaware of reality. I'm proud of being as woke as I can be and hope to be more woke in the future.

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George, Gil: Love this FrameLab post on another highly toxic framing, GOP linguistic trap! What words can we use instead? How about these? CONSEQUENCE CULTURE // FREEDOM-FOR-ALL ADVOCATE, EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY ADVOCATE, EQUITY ADVOCATE, JUSTICE WARRIOR. Also, Isn't “PC” the Golden Rule present in nearly every religion? Federico

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