New York Times: Critical Speech Is ‘Literally Violence’
The New York Times recently published an op-ed arguing that words can have detrimental physical effects on people.
The op-ed — written by Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University — asks “When Is Speech Violence?” Barrett argues that negative words and thoughts, merely by being said, can be counted as an act of physical violence due to the reaction that they may cause within an individual.
“Imagine that a bully threatens to punch you in the face. A week later, he walks up to you and breaks your nose with his fist. Which is more harmful: the punch or the threat?” she asks. “The answer might seem obvious: Physical violence is physically damaging; verbal statements aren’t. ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’”
“But scientifically speaking, it’s not that simple,” Barrett claims. “Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system. Certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sick, alter your brain — even kill neurons — and shorten your life.”