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Reply #83: playing around with language [View All]

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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-28-06 02:03 AM
Response to Reply #82
83. playing around with language
I'm going to put your post into race terms instead of gender terms here just to see where it lands me, since the I AM A MAN signs are still fresh on my brain.
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I understand the problem of perspective however. Most white people do not realize when they are saying something that can be seen as racist. If one was to call Pope Benedict "Whitey", it isn't considered racist even though it is poking fun at his physical appearance. Yet if one was to call Al Sharpton "blackie", it is a racist remark. It is a double standard certainly, but one of our (collectively, both white and black) own creation. Because black people take insult as a group at the appearance of a black politician or public figure being mocked, it is racist to make fun of a black person's appearance. Because black people do not feel the same when a white person is made fun of for his appearance, making light of a white person's appearance is not racist. The perspective defines everything.

The question becomes whether or not this reaction is rooted in the relative power of the races, because people of color have less power they must band together in defense of one another, or rather because people of color occupy the lesser social position it is less acceptable to make fun of them than it is than white people. Or whether there is a more basic physiological cause. (Listed for sake of argument, I'm not advocating or defending it. I mean no offense.) Perhaps it's just tradition or upbringing.

As to changing it, you would have two basic approaches. You could make it acceptable for black people to make light of white people as well. I think we're moving in this direction currently, for better or worse. While ideologically weak and flimsy, it may be the only practical solution considering human nature. But only if you can match it with wage parity and social equality. Which we are also moving toward currently, albeit slowly.

Or you could make it unacceptable to make fun of anyone based on race specific attributes, which I postulate would include making white people take offense collectively anytime a white politician is insulted based on his physical appearance. While in theory I suppose this is possible, human nature is a bitter and ugly thing. We tear each other down based on our differences, and race is always right out there in the forefront for everyone to see. I express sincere regret at people leaving DU because they are appalled at the language used here, but if they wish to avoid any such language, they will truly be living in a very small world. For better or worse, DU is a big tent, and there are a lot of different people with a lot of different backgrounds here. All I can suggest is to not to take such comments personally, by all means inform the person stating it that it is offensive, but don't take it personally.

Lastly, as to my statement regarding the extremity of the positions here, perhaps I should rephrase it. The position of desiring equality is not extreme. Including equality in language is definitely a little off of moderate. The belief that if you're not standing up to help make it so, you oppose equality is extreme. It may not have been stated so, but that is the implication that will be read by any moderate white person on the issue.
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