sponsored links
TED@NYC

Sally Kohn: Let’s try emotional correctness

October 14, 2013

It's time for liberals and conservatives to transcend their political differences and really listen to each other, says political pundit Sally Kohn. In this optimistic talk, Kohn shares what she learned as a progressive lesbian talking head on Fox News. It’s not about political correctness, she says, but rather, emotional correctness. (Contains profanity.)

Sally Kohn - Political pundit
Sally Kohn searches for common ground among political foes by focusing on the compassion and humanity in everyone. Full bio

sponsored links
Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
So when I do my job, people hate me.
00:12
In fact, the better I do my job,
00:16
the more people hate me.
00:19
And no, I'm not a meter maid,
00:20
and I'm not an undertaker.
00:22
I am a progressive lesbian talking head
00:24
on Fox News. (Applause)
00:27
So y'all heard that, right? Just to make sure, right?
00:30
I am a gay talking head on Fox News.
00:33
I am going to tell you how I do it
00:36
and the most important thing I've learned.
00:38
So I go on television.
00:40
I debate people who literally want to obliterate
00:42
everything I believe in, in some cases,
00:45
who don't want me and people like me to even exist.
00:47
It's sort of like Thanksgiving
with your conservative uncle
00:50
on steroids,
00:53
with a live television audience of millions.
00:55
It's totally almost just like that.
00:58
And that's just on air.
01:01
The hate mail I get is unbelievable.
01:03
Last week alone, I got 238 pieces of nasty email
01:05
and more hate tweets than I can even count.
01:10
I was called an idiot, a traitor, a scourge,
01:13
a cunt, and an ugly man,
01:16
and that was just in one email.
01:19
(Laughter)
01:21
So what have I realized,
01:23
being on the receiving end of all this ugliness?
01:26
Well, my biggest takeaway is that for decades,
01:29
we've been focused on political correctness,
01:32
but what matters more is emotional correctness.
01:35
Let me give you a small example.
01:39
I don't care if you call me a dyke. I really don't.
01:41
I care about two things.
01:44
One, I care that you spell it right.
01:45
(Laughter) (Applause)
01:48
Just quick refresher, it's D-Y-K-E.
01:53
You'd totally be surprised.
01:57
And second, I don't care about the word,
01:59
I care about how you use it.
02:01
Are you being friendly? Are you just being naive?
02:03
Or do you really want to hurt me personally?
02:05
Emotional correctness is the tone, the feeling,
02:09
how we say what we say,
02:14
the respect and compassion we show one another.
02:16
And what I've realized is that political persuasion
02:19
doesn't begin with ideas or facts or data.
02:21
Political persuasion begins with
being emotionally correct.
02:26
So when I first went to go work at Fox News,
02:30
true confession,
02:32
I expected there to be marks in the carpet
02:34
from all the knuckle-dragging.
02:37
That, by the way, in case you're paying attention,
is not emotionally correct.
02:39
But liberals on my side,
02:44
we can be self-righteous,
we can be condescending,
02:47
we can be dismissive of anyone
who doesn't agree with us.
02:50
In other words, we can be politically right
02:53
but emotionally wrong.
02:55
And incidentally, that means that
02:58
people don't like us. Right?
03:01
Now here's the kicker.
03:04
Conservatives are really nice.
03:06
I mean, not all of them,
03:08
and not the ones who send me hate mail,
03:10
but you would be surprised.
03:12
Sean Hannity is one of the sweetest guys
03:14
I've ever met.
03:16
He spends his free time
03:18
trying to fix up his staff on blind dates,
03:20
and I know that if I ever had a problem,
03:22
he would do anything he could to help.
03:24
Now, I think Sean Hannity is
03:27
99 percent politically wrong,
03:29
but his emotional correctness
is strikingly impressive,
03:32
and that's why people listen to him.
03:36
Because you can't get anyone to agree with you
03:38
if they don't even listen to you first.
03:40
We spend so much time talking past each other
03:43
and not enough time talking
through our disagreements,
03:46
and if we can start to find
compassion for one another,
03:49
then we have a shot at building common ground.
03:53
It actually sounds really hokey
03:56
to say it standing up here,
03:58
but when you try to put it in practice,
04:00
it's really powerful.
04:03
So someone who says they hate immigrants,
04:05
I try to imagine how scared they must be
04:08
that their community is changing
from what they've always known.
04:10
Or someone who says they
don't like teachers' unions,
04:13
I bet they're really devastated to see
04:16
their kid's school going into the gutter,
04:18
and they're just looking for someone to blame.
04:20
Our challenge is to find the compassion for others
04:23
that we want them to have for us.
04:27
That is emotional correctness.
04:30
I'm not saying it's easy.
04:33
An average of, like, 5.6 times per day
04:35
I have to stop myself from responding
04:37
to all of my hate mail with a flurry of vile profanities.
04:39
This whole finding compassion
04:44
and common ground with your enemies thing
04:47
is kind of like a political-spiritual practice for me,
04:49
and I ain't the Dalai Lama.
04:53
I'm not perfect, but what I am is optimistic,
04:56
because I don't just get hate mail.
05:02
I get a lot of really nice letters, lots of them.
05:04
And one of my all-time favorites begins,
05:07
"I am not a big fan of your political leanings
05:10
or your sometimes tortured logic,
05:13
but I'm a big fan of you as a person."
05:18
Now this guy doesn't agree with me, yet.
05:22
(Laughter)
05:26
But he's listening, not because of what I said,
05:29
but because of how I said it,
05:32
and somehow, even though we've never met,
05:34
we've managed to form a connection.
05:36
That's emotional correctness,
05:38
and that's how we start the conversations
05:41
that really lead to change.
05:43
Thank you.
05:45
(Applause)
05:48

sponsored links

Sally Kohn - Political pundit
Sally Kohn searches for common ground among political foes by focusing on the compassion and humanity in everyone.

Why you should listen

Sally Kohn has a powerful vision for a more united United States. On Fox News, this progressive lesbian has sparred with some of the most conservative minds on television, and has sifted through hundreds of letters of hate mail a day. But she deeply believes in finding our common humanity, political differences aside. Before we can achieve political correctness, we must first establish emotional correctness — and this will ignite conversations that lead to real change.

Kohn has appeared on Fox, MSNBC and CNN, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, The Atlantic and TIME Magazine.

The original video is available on TED.com
sponsored links

If you need translations, you can install "Google Translate" extension into your Chrome Browser.
Furthermore, you can change playback rate by installing "Video Speed Controller" extension.

Data provided by TED.

This website is owned and operated by Tokyo English Network.
The developer's blog is here.