Free Speech Also Applies To Tone

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In the ranks of allies (and adversaries) the old idiom “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” is often misused to tone police what’s being said into virtually saying something altogether different.

The tone change typically assuages whatever butthurtness the tone police may feel about the message itself, but critiquing the delivery serves as a soft deflection that allows said tone police to pretend they are fundamentally in agreement with the speaker–all the while distracting from their message.

It’s not considered that HOW one says what one says is a part of conveying WHAT one is saying. The message and its delivery work in tandem. Of course, presentation matters. That’s the point.

Ex. Feminists softening their delivery to not ‘provoke’ misogynistic rebuke would placate to misogyny, just as softening anti-racist rhetoric out of deference to White fragility placates to polite racism.

If you find yourself more invested in how an oppressed people express their grief than you are in opposing the oppression that begrieves them, the problem isn’t their tone, it’s that you are tone deaf (and doth protest too much, methinks). Police yourself. #dontBSyourself

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10 thoughts on “Free Speech Also Applies To Tone

  1. Tone police, I like that, and yes, I know some. And I have heard that old Idiom said to me more times than I can remember! People always got something to say when they don’t like the way you say it. They get so caught up in the way it’s said, they miss the point! Oh well…you can’t please everybody. And I know you ain’t trying to.

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