Earlier this week, KFOR interviewed clinical psychologist Dr. Caleb Lack on the impact inflammatory language used by political leaders can have on the beliefs, and possibly behaviors, of people following them. This interview came days after Governor Kevin Stitt’s spokesperson tweeted about democrats being placed in body bags and a week after many Oklahoma congressional members claimed that the results of the 2020 election were fraudulent. Since we seem to have seen so many faux pas in the media lately, we at TLO thought we’d help out. So here is the official TLO guide for Oklahoma lawmakers on how to not inspire political aggression!
Don’t Use Divisive Language
Research suggests that using distinguishing, “us versus them” language when describing others can lead to heightened feelings of being threatened and increase in conflict between the people who perceive themselves to be in opposing groups. It also leads people to ignore shared values and characteristics. So if you really do want to help us heal as a nation, start with your memes.
Don’t Contribute to the Spread of Misinformation
As we’ve already discussed, demonizing another group with sharp, distinguishing language can create hostility against the group. If we are vilifying a group such as the media, people are going to be distrustful of actual news organizations and instead stay up-to-date on current events by listening to a part-time MMA fighter make up voter fraud stories.
Don’t Feed Conspiracies
Last week’s attack on Capitol Hill was inspired by the unfounded belief that widespread voter fraud led to the election of Joe Biden. So maybe don’t feed into the conspiracy unless you have actual polaroid proof and a corkboard with 17 yards of red yarn to prove it.
Don’t Use Fear-Mongering
Researchers have found that using fear-mongering language may increase people’s fears, whether or not there is an actual threat. So maybe get out your thesaurus to find a less inflammatory synonym or use it like we at TLO do to sound smarterer. And don’t get me started on using moral panic tactics.
Guys (and Gal), Really. Stop Feeding into Conspiracies
Studies and court cases agree that voter fraud is rarer than a slab of beef eating grass. Take some time to reflect on (and google) the words you’re using before you give your next press release.
Plus maybe it’s just me, but scapegoating kind of makes it seem like you’re just blaming others for any problems or stalemates rather than doing anything about it…jk maybe it’s not just me.
Goddammit. Quit Making Shit Up.
Is it any wonder people can’t seem to include a simple hyperlink to back up their claims of “irregularities” or “fraud” in the election process?