Self-Censorship in Public Discourse: A THEORY OF "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" AND RELATED PHENOMENA.

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    • Abstract:
      Uncertainty about what motivates "senders" of public messages leads "receivers" to "read between the lines" to discern the sender's deepest commitments. Anticipating this, senders "write between the lines," editing their expressions so as to further their own ends. I examine how this interactive process of inference and deceit affects the quality and extent of public deliberations on sensitive issues. A principle conclusion is that genuine moral discourse on difficult social issues can become impossible when the risks of upsetting some portion of one's audience are too great. Reliance on euphemism and platitude should be expected in this strategic climate. Groups may embark on a tragic course of action, believed by many at the outset to be ill-conceived, but that has become impossible to criticize. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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