Times are changing, the social debate is rapidly polarising and more and more groups are becoming radically opposed to one another. Language appears to be one of the most powerful forms of respective inclusion and exclusion. Pakhuis de Zwijger (PdZ) strives to facilitate a safe place of meeting where everyone feels safe and heard without jeopardising the culture of open conversation. With this Code of Conduct we provide program makers, moderators, partner organisations and participants with the necessary tools to navigate through the many social areas of tension. Where certain expertise or experience may be lacking, we offer knowledge and support. Precisely by framing manners and forms of addressing one another, an environment is created where one can speak freely and openly because certain tensions are removed, everyone present experiences respect and recognition, mutual understanding is created and the vocality of disadvantaged people grows.

With this Code of Conduct we aim to bring about a cultural change and to set a new standard for how the social dialogue can be conducted in a constructive, equal and inclusive manner.

  • Moving forward, PdZ will refer to its visitors as participants. Everyone present is a desired participant in the conversation and a necessary participant in shaping and building a sustainable and inclusive city.
  • At PdZ everyone is recognised, greeted and addressed. There is no greeting or mention of “ladies and gentlemen” as this completely excludes the presence of non-binary and/or gender queer persons. Alternatives: ‘Hello dear people’, ‘Welcome dear people’ or: ‘Good evening dear participants’.
  • Identity is not expertise. Experts and people with experiences are two different things. Example: do not make people professional transgender and do not make a Moroccan Dutch person a mouthpiece on behalf of the entire community. Acknowledge people’s qualifications and professions.
  • Freedom of expression is about issues, not about individuals, and should never come at the expense of human rights. Ergo: people are not attacked ad hominem and the existence of certain groups and/or persons is not disputed. Some sensitivity is required. What is an interesting philosophical issue for one person is a (hard-won) daily reality for another. Example: gender-free toilets are a topic of discussion, the existence of non-binary/trans people is not.
  • In PdZ a person is who he/she/they says they are, not what others make of it. No discussion is allowed about self-proclaimed identities such as skin colour, gender, religion, origin, sexual preference or otherwise. In addition, one’s own identification is not dismissed as an experience, feeling or perception, but as a recognised state of being.
  • Everyone is treated and addressed as an equal and respected person. No diminutives or reductionist terms about groups and/or individuals are tolerated.
  • All participants are consistently referred to by their first name or last name. It does not contain any gender division, age discrimination or other inequality.
  • The gender of participants is not considered to be known in advance. Ask guests beforehand for their preferred personal pronoun and form of address and refer to audience participants as “that person” or ask them to identify themselves by their name and personal pronoun.
  • As with point #5, persons with any illness and/or physical or cognitive challenge indicate how they identify. Avoid ableism; expressions and words referring to such challenges such as ‘don’t react so spastically’, ‘blind spot’ or ‘falling on deaf ears’ A person may have an illness and/or physical or cognitive challenge.
  • Use of the word ‘negro’ is out of the question when no explanation can be given about the origin and evolution of the controversial word, in order to provide more context. If necessary and functional, reference to ’the n-word’ as such is sufficient.
  • PdZ contributes to the decolonisation of language: ‘white’ not ‘caucasian’; ‘black’ not ‘dark’; ‘double-blood’ or ‘multi-blood’ not ‘half-blood’; and ‘bicultural’ not ‘immigrant’. A Dutch person is anyone with Dutch nationality, not everyone with a white skin color. People with dual nationality are introduced with both nationalities if desired (and requested) and population groups are referred to with both nationalities: ‘Chinese-Dutch’ and not: ‘Chinese’ and ‘Turkish-Dutch’ and not: ‘Turks’.
  • There is no profanity or name calling at the table. This keeps the conversation substantive, safe, polite and respectful to everyone.
  • Do not generalise or make assumptions for the public. Examples: “Of course I am preaching to the choir here.” “We all agree here, of course.” “I don’t need to tell you that…” “We are of course all…
  • Avoid technical jargon and specialist terminology without context or explanation.
  • Participants in the MBO education are legally called students and not pupils.
  • PdZ respects every person and does not speak about groups of people in terms of natural phenomena. Examples: ‘streams of migrants’, ’tsunamis of refugees’, ‘wave of Muslims’ etc.
  • Population groups are never prefixed with a swear word and ethnicity, gender and/or sexual preferences are never an adjective. Examples: ‘fucking Moroccan’, ‘Ting Tong or chink, ’that’s gay’, ‘bitches’, ‘faggot’, ‘dyke haircut etc..
  • At PdZ we are aware that language is not static and communication is a product of mutual interaction in which we never stop learning. We are open to feedback, correction for possible blind spots and new insights.
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