The Problem: NOT shuck and jive

Language is an indicator of what people think… how they think. And some small insight into the strategies they use for living next to, working with, and sharing a country, a continent, and planet with all other creatures. Jumping all over them for exposing their thinking is, imo, the wrong thing.

Nigger. Bad word? I am not for banning the use of any word. Bad, good, profane.  Further, if we keep people from expressing their thinking with a word like nigger, how do we counter the probable thinking behind its use? Instead of pounding people over their words, make an opportunity to challenge their thinking, their facts. Don’t argue the word. Aim higher. To deconstruct obsolete cultural norms, fear, and ignorance.

And there is another issue at hand here. We all do it. We do it here at dKos with ugly words created to describe Republicans, evangelicals, and each other’s candidates. We use the word blond pejoratively. We infuse something close to hate into theocrats. Even, it seems, gays and lesbians trash trans-gender people. And all I can say to that is we’re all confused to some extent or another.

The aim, from rethug to nigger, is the same: to objectify the other so they can be dismissed.  

Perhaps we should look at it differently. That’s my suggestion. Take a look at this list of pejorative terms for human beings. Nobody is immune from the disgust, fear, hatred of another.

The words people use are a way to assess their thinking. This mistaken strategy of banning words has evolved into ciphers and codes… focus testing. It has led to the devious among us to find a way to use innocent or approved words to do more damage than calling somebody a nigger or a whore or holy roller.

Just think about words like family values, homeland security, terrorists, terrorism… how, in the last seven years, nobody ever said out loud: nigger and white trash and macaca (except one guy who, if we had listened instead of reacted to the word, would have heard how BushCo really feels about us). Yet, it doesn’t diminish the fact that BushCo thinks of us (all of us btw) as resources to plunder. We got wooed with words and here we are… we middle class types face-to-face with a descent into third world status. And, despite all our politically correct (bleech) efforts, brown people are the new black this election cycle…  immigrants, human beings being targeted simply because they come here and work hard to give their families a better life. And they scrimp, save, live together, shop together and manage to do it on 75 cents an hour. I think they’re amazing.

What we need to do, imo, is help people learn to pull out the meaning from words. To think critically and be able and willing to challenge prejudice in all its forms. The hard part is engaging in the debate, keeping all ears open, and the willingness to put it all on the table. How do we structure the debate to keep everyone in it??? That’s what we ought to be working on… getting us at the table and fight, scream, argue, and talk this shit out… cut it open, let it bleed, and finally get the poison out of us.

Then maybe we can get on with doing what needs to be done… the hard work ahead of us to survive on this planet.


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    • pfiore8 on January 12, 2008 at 19:49

    xposted at dKos

  1. Is this a point about troll ratings?

  2. I think being called a nigger or a whore is damaging. I realize you were not trying to say they were not.

    I don’t think that by actively choosing not to use certain words I am engaging in any suppression of free speech.

  3. I will never forget hearing a person I love and cherish use the N word in anger. I felt physically ill.

    My impression is you are asking us to push the surface of having discussions about race/gender/ethnicity/sexual preference/religious belief. We do need to go ahead with the work of survival on this planet but discussing these things are essential to that, they are not peripheral issues.

  4. there are reasons…..

    they have to do with the post modern myth….

    it’s fundamental assumptions regarding identity, causation, dynamic, and temporality…..

    we are emmbedded in a myth that is marginaly accurate at a scale far below the one we find ourselves in…..

    at this scale it is apocalypticly inaccurate…….

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