As a Christian pastor and professor, I make my living with words.
When Donald Trump dismisses his own violent and regressive speech with the slogan “it’s just words,” as he did during last night’s depressing civic spectacle, my own concern about the deterioration of our public conversation deepens. This week’s revelations of Trump’s self-described “locker-room talk” (in fact, a conversation conducted in his workplace) come after months of mean-spirited discourse from the GOP candidate.
It is time for people of faith and moral conscience to insist on a more noble speech ethics for the public square.
Where to begin?
My understanding of ethics is informed by womanist theology, a spiritually-rooted school of thought, set of moral convictions, and assemblage of social change strategies emerging from the distinctive experiences of black women. According to womanist scholar Emilie Townes, ethical investigation raises poignant questions such as: “What is the society we are trying to create? What does it look like? Is there a common vision? Have we become so overwhelmed by the process that we have lost sight of the end?”
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