Some correspondence came my way recently which referred to me, but refused to dignify me with a name. The person concerned obviously holds me in such contempt that they refuse to give me a name. “PV” was the reference to me.
This reminds me of a phenomenon I have observed in the past whereby people refuse to call someone by a name. The cases I am thinking of are when the person cannot bring themselves to call someone by name because they feel such antipathy towards them.
I am not sure why this is, but perhaps it has something of a thrust to dehumanize someone. When a baby is given a name there is an indication that honour is being bestowed upon them and they are recognised to be a human being. It is part of our being constituted as person for us to be given a name. This is a practice which operates across all cultures. In fact one of the first questions that is asked upon a baby being born is: what is his/her name? Contrariwise, when a slave is just given a number there is something dehumanizing about that. And if we have a sense of humanity we revolt against it.
Accordingly, when we refuse to use someone’s name there is an action which indicates that we do not want them to be honoured. We are showing that we do not have respect for them.
It all reminds me of the need to use names carefully and in doing so we thereby give honour to people.