by Axel Arturo Barceló Aspeitia
A few weeks ago I was invited to give a talk on the annual conference on hate speech at the National Museum of Memory and Tolerance in Mexico City. Here are some of my notes:
- Theoretical humanists (and social scientists, not just theoretical philosophers) envy the relevance of practical humanists, while practical humanists envy the precision of theoretical humanists.
- I increasingly doubt the usefulness of using the term "racism" to account for discrimination in Mexico. Given the heterogeneity among phenomena such as the exclusion of indigenous peoples, anti-Semitism and discrimination against dark skinned people, I do not see what is the point of calling them all cases of racism. I do not see well what they have in common that is substantially different from, say, classism or any other sort of discrimination.
- It is very easy to point out the negative effects of the mestizaje myth, but what is really necessary and truly difficult is to objectively evaluate the pros and cons of having built our national identity around this myth. furthermore, it is not necessary to think that this was a mistake to realize that we must repair its harmful effects on indigenous peoples, or that we need to keep looking for better, more just ways of building a national identity.
- As long as our paradigm of the political is explicit and conscious public deliberation considering reasons and interests, we marginalize fundamental aspects of the political realm that are implicit, unconscious private and embodied, like emotions. (Even though emotions also build communities).
- Latin American political thought lays claim to anger as a positive political emotion, but we must recognize that once anger is unleashed there is no way to control it. At most, we may be able to channel it in positive directions.
- The European and American perspectives on free speech and censorship are diametrically different because of their radically different historical experiences, so that the default position is freedom in the United States and prohibition in Europe.
- It is possible – and a good habit – to talk to a person on the other side of the ideological fence without betraying our principles.
- “If you ask me, what would be the only thing I wish you would take away from this talk – if you could take only one thing away – it would be that education makes no difference: we are all capable of producing and being affected by dangerous speech regardless of our education.” Susan Benesch
- We respond in a more rational way to messages in a second language than we do to messages in our mother tongue.
- Speech acts are acts: they invovle decision, authority, choice: these demand different conceptual tools beyond semantics, pragmatics, communication, meaning, truth, etc.