Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Rollback Stops Here

Amanda's got a good post up about racist rhetoric on the right--basically she's seeing an increase in it (and she's not the only one, but I'll list my own examples another time). One of the examples Amanda cites is from good ol' Rush Limbaugh. You can read the full transcript here, but what I believe is referred to as the "money quote" is this:

Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.

Amanda goes after "There, I said it," and doesn't really need any help from me to do it, but I just have to pile onto this "there, I said it," business anyway:

For a group that never tires of mocking the concept of "truth to power," wingnuts sure use their own corrupted version of it a lot; "their own version" being things like proudly claiming themselves "politically incorrect," or championing "free speech," or even writing torturous 45,000-word essays that attempt to divorce intent from context. It's an "Ooh, I'm such a rebel" pose that doesn't actually rebel against anything. Whatever--you've got the low-brow versions and the faux-high-brow versions and all the versions in-between, but it's the same thing.

It's what you see this guy doing in the comments here: Don't you tell ME what I can and cannot say. Or, if you must try to tell me what I can and cannot say, then first you have to give up something you'd ordinarily say in exchange (and then I might not honor my half of the bargain anyhow, but too bad, so sad--I made you go first!). That it's not a fair exchange to begin with doesn't bother these people; the hierarchy must be preserved.

Right there, that's how you know it isn't about "free speech," a concept so abused anymore that poor Madison must be rolling in his grave like the insides of a Ronco Rotisserie. See, if it were about free speech, white guys wouldn't get so upset that black people react differently to a word depending on who's using it. There is nothing against free speech in acknowledging different contexts. If this were a free speech issue, there would not be this demand that black people give those words up before asking white people not to use them. That demand isn't made to honor free speech. That demand is made to preserve white privilege.

I don't know how to weave this in neatly, but it's relevant, so I'm just going to drop it here--piny on reclaiming:

When you reclaim an epithet, you take it and use it against its meaning in order to deflate its meaning. You are practicing verbal civil disobedience. You are refusing to maintain the original, hateful sense of the word and attempting to force the word to carry a new meaning, your meaning. Reclamation is the name given to this strategy because it is so frequently practiced by the original targets of the hatred. In fact, they are in the best possible position to practice this kind of reverse engineering, because they often have difficulty taking the place of the original users without destabilizing the hater/hated dichotomy that makes epithets valid in the first place. They are also in a better position to recognize the difference–which can be fine in a society where hatred is transparent–between ironic and earnest use.

Piny includes numerous examples that demonstrate the difference between reclaiming a slur and perpetuating it. That's the difference commenter Tom doesn't get--at this point, I suspect willfully, because more than one person's tried to explain it to him, though none better than Sylvia:

With all due respect, the problem isn't the word itself; it's how it's used. I don't understand why white people don't get that. I don't understand why black people have the onus of censoring themselves because white people don't have the good sense to know that particular word in their mouths almost always becomes a weapon. It wounds; it doesn't build solidarity. There are very few contexts when it doesn't have that effect.

When black people use it, it's like a family nickname. Familiarity. Skepticism. Love. Hate. It's all there. Since all of us got lumped into some culturally imposed blackness, and the power of that imposition carried under that word as a banner, it shouldn't be hard to understand that when black people became self-determinant and worked on forming their own identities, that word traveled with some of them.

The only objection I've got to that comment is that Tom isn't due any respect.

I've always avoided a comment policy because I like to give myself as much leeway as possible, and policies limit my ability to judge comments on a case-by-case basis. But this case isn't hard to call: I'm done with this shit. Listen up, all folks suffering from a surfeit of entitlement:

There must be fifty other blogs on which you can hash out this reactionary bullshit, fifty other blogs at which you'll be welcomed with a chorus of sympathetic agreement from other ostensibly oppressed persons who think it really sucks that they can't have racist theme parties or Photoshop politicians in blackface or say the n-word or call women "cunts" or call queer men "fags" or WHATEVER.

You post THERE. I'm not hosting it here. You mount your rollback campaign to drive us back to the Good Ol' Days that were really only any good for one group in particular at those blogs. This blog is not for you.

And no more of this "Why can't you identitarians just be logical?" from people who can't even tell when they've committed a whopping logical fallacy. No more of this "but you didn't address my argument!" whining from halfwits. And just so we are crystal fucking clear what I'm talking about, here's an example for everybody: A comment of Tom's I deleted. This is what I am talking about:

Now here's my key points again

There's no vast conspiracy of white people to say it. There's a multiracial culture of Americans and within that culture both white and black people say it, which helps perpetuate it.

You mean the entitlement of suburban white kids to sound like their favorite hip hop stars and stand ups who cynically market racist stereotypes of black people to those same kids and then get upset when those kids actually repeat them back?

... and Ilyka really, I know committed the unpardonable sin of actually presenting arguments you can't answer, but the classy way out of that is to put up more posts and push the discussion further down

Or you could just posture a lot and pretend that identity politics won and collect your Me Toos

"Arguments I can't answer" is really a keeper considering those arguments were refuted by seven or eight different people, repeatedly. But this is what I mean about the wingnut capacity for debate taking a nosedive, because this is the preferred companion to Death by Nitpick: Sheer bloodymindedness, or, "I'm going to keep repeating my ONE argument, no matter how many dozens of different ways you debunk it, and then when even I get tired of repeating my one argument, I'm going to complain that you didn't address my argument."

Well, not here you aren't. You go to Klown Kollege to do that.

Here is a short summary of Tom's unaddressed argument:

Me, in post: "Hey, white people who love to quote Chris Rock's black-civil-war routine? You forgot the part he said after, which is why you can't say the n-word. Here! Let me transcribe it for you."

Tom: "Chris Rock sux and Eddie Murphy does too. Trust my humorless asshole opinion on that. Also, anyone who wants to see an end to people saying [redacted], should stop using the word. As long as black people keep using it, they're helping to keep it alive. And if they're going to use it non-stop, it becomes impossible to take the outrage seriously. If I called myself a shithead all day, can I then get outraged when someone else does it?"

Me: "The example you used to support that assertion is not relevant, which I will now demonstrate by plugging the word 'shithead' into the traditional context in which '[redacted]' has been used by white people."

Tom: "Having been shown that I am not very good at making applicable comparisons, I will now bolster my argument by making increasingly inapplicable comparisons about Normans, Saxons, and a gross factual error about how you say 'black' in Spanish that ignores the rules of Spanish pronunciation, in a sad homage to the ol' slippery slope. Then I shall restate my argument, which is that black people need to quit saying the n-word, because that's what's really driving all this racism."

Sylvia: [see also above] "That word means different things when it's used amongst black people than when it's used by guys like you, Tom. When we use it, it isn't always bad. When you guys use it, it usually is."

Chris Clarke: "No, Tom--Andrew Dice Clay sux."

Lesley: "Spanish does not equal English, Tom, and just because you enjoy referring to yourself as a shithead doesn't mean you'd enjoy it if I did it."

Tom: "Andrew Dice Clay was funny. Chris Rock sux."

Tom: "Are you thrillin' to my mad logix skillz yet, peeps? Because you should be. Check this out--I'm about to whip more irrelevant comparisons on you: How can people "forfeit" a right to make a point? Especially based on the color of their skin? Either something is a valid argument or it isn't [ignores that using a slur is not the same as making an argument; ignores the effect of context on the meaning of language; ignores all sense entirely and probably gravity besides]. Can we use racial metrics to determine who gets to make the case for mathematical theorems too? [Ignores that no one's talking about math.] [Now watch me pull the reverse racism card:] This is how political correctness degrades and is as racist as a klansman. [Ignores that no one's called Tom a dumb cousin-fucking cracker--yet.] Ooh! I am making myself so crazy with love for my many logix!!!"

Tom: "Sylvia, it isn't that black people are obligated to do what I say; it's that I'm not going to give them the respect they ask for until they do what I say. See the difference? Say! Did you notice that black comics and musicians use this word a lot? It's not fair that they say it so much and I can't say it at all. Now I am going to put 'nuance' in scare quotes to suggest it is a silly concept that only silly people invoke, because that's what all my wingnut brothers do, even as one of our leading wingnut pundits complains about the inability of liberals to appreciate HER nuance. Irony is dead and people like me helped to kill it."

And so on, and so on, and so on, ad stupiditum. It's reached the point where I have to ask, "Why am I giving this tool a platform? I already know what stupid looks like. I already know what poorly masked hatred looks like. I am not learning anything here. I don't need this, and neither does anyone else. Shit, I'm naive. I thought we'd worked this all out back when The Jeffersons was still on."

So no mas, people. Everyone wave bye-bye to the dumb cousin-fucking cracker, for chances are we will not see his like again until the next time some habitual skidmark-sniffer links me at Klown Kollege.

You're blowing my mind here, Republicans: Your party's in the shitter, most people think the President smells, and the first thing you can think to do is alienate more people. What the fuck kind of strategery IS that?


gennimcmahon said...

Really, the only bit of truth ol' Tom offered was when he called me a WHITE LIBERAL.

Like that's the worst insult he could come up with. But, thank you, Tom. I'm glad you saw it in me. Of course, I tend to classify myself as an independent, but if WHITE LIBERAL means that I recognize the historical and current oppression of a group of people and wish for it to stop, well, I'll wear that hat proudly.

ilyka said...

But, Genni, you didn't address his argument.

gennimcmahon said...

Ya got me dead to rights on that one, Ilyka. No one, really, addressed his argument. Maybe it's that liberal thing, draining away our ability to respond appropriately. are u feeling stewpid, or is it just me.

ilyka said...

"You didn't address my argument" is nothing but code for "you didn't agree with my argument." Well, no, shitforbrains; it wasn't a very good argument. Maybe next time try leaving the Saxons out of it?

ilyka said...

'Sides, I liked Tom better when he went by "Gower, Voice of Reason." At least then I could chuckle at the pomposity.

Worse, now I need a new official troll. You just can't get good help anymore.

Sylvia said...

Don't you guys know to bow to the white man when he's talking to you?

I'm shocked at your failure to embrace custom.

JW said...

*plays Tom out with a tiny, sad song on her itty wee violin*

That'll show YOU, Ilyka.

ilyka said...

I'm shocked at your failure to embrace custom.

Try not to hold it against me? I got a bad disc in my back. Bowing hurts.

He tried to post here again. Hands up who thinks he complained that I'm deleting his shit because he actually won the argument? Let's see (counting) . . . Ten to one against you is a "win," right?


Lesley said...

Can I outsource my comment writing to you? Your remixes are so much better! I guess with your cool new gig over at Pandagon, that's kind of out of the question, though.

Ah, poor Tom. So misunderstood.