Clean Speech Colorado is a campaign that runs for 30 days encouraging people to read a 2-minute passage each day or watch the videos online. The ultimate goal is to encourage people to speak kinder to one another. It was started by Denver Rabbi Raphael Leban.
“The attempt was to try to deepen people’s sensitivity to the way that we interact verbally, which is really the father of all our relationships, and to try to upgrade it and improve it to become more careful not to speak in a negative, disparaging, offensive way,” said Leban.
He said this can be especially important with holiday gatherings coming up and religion, mass shootings, gun legislation, and other political topics are at the forefront.
“I think it’s particularly abhorrent and problematic when we see that a minority community is targeted in the public discourse out there. We, the Jewish community, have also suffered recently with the uncomfortable words of Kanye West and others, as examples, and we all learn the lessons of how painful, how problematic, and costly it can be,” said Leban.
They said is it particularly beneficial because it’s not just rabbis doing the videos and giving the lessons, it is also just members of the community and some youth as well.
“Not that our campaign is about legislating, necessarily, that certain types of speech, things or people be canceled for what they say, but that each and every one of us makes a particular effort to try not to speak in a way that could potentially be insightful, hateful, problematic, and it could lead to the vilification of any group whatsoever,” said Leban.
This idea was launched four years ago during the 2019 election season in Denver but has grown to other large cities. This year, there were campaigns in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago and New York. Previously they were in Minneapolis, St. Louis and in the United Kingdom.
The campaign has 50,000 participants in Colorado alone.
“We don’t always appreciate what impact our words have. It was a famous thing we were all taught as kids, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me‘ well, words actually can cause harm and we’re not always so impervious,” said Leban. “So, we would like to invite everyone to take their words with severity, that they in fact have the power, that they have the strength, the impact that they have, and to try to be attuned to speaking in a way that’s not denigrating.”
This month‘s campaign really culminated in an event Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Jewish Community Center.