How Pivotal Moments Change Our Language, Culture

Published: Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 2:11pm
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(Photo by Kaely Monahan - KJZZ)
Neal Lester and Cindy SturtzSreetharan

Last month, media outlets around the world had to grapple with how to report a story that President Donald Trump had reportedly referred to Haiti and African nations during a meeting in the Oval Office by using a certain derogatory word.

President Trump denied saying it, but it seemed to mark a shift in what was acceptable to say - and not to say - in public.

Was this a pivotal moment in our culture that we can't’ come back from? Like when Congressman Joe Wilson yelled, "You lie," at President Barack Obama during a 2009 address to Congress.

The Show decided to bring in some deep thinkers to talk more about moments like this — and what they mean for our language and our culture.

Cindy SturtzSreetharan is an associate professor of anthropology at Arizona State University and Neal Lester is senior sustainability scholar and a professor of English at ASU.

The Show