bootleg raw: an apology and…

i have to apologize to all of you for letting my anger get the better of me. And i apologize to NPK, NLinStPaul, and kj for the hurtful things I said to them. And I apologize to myself, because lashing out hurts me. And, with all respect, I’m not asking that we all be friends nor do I think this heals all wounds. I just don’t think there is any reason to inflict any more blows.

Life is personal. Work is personal. Blogging is personal. And, imo, this I’m going to quote Night Owl here, because I think he nailed it… where it can all go wrong for me…

Its a consequence of … approach (4.00 / 2)

… (the) whole approach in this thread has been to focus almost exclusively on the terms I use, rather than the context in which they are made.

So instead of actually discussing the idea I am trying to articulate, … moral advantage (is sought) by harping on my terminology.  Basically, the ‘OMG! I can’t believe he said that!’ approach.

Then, after … becoming frustrated because I refuse to apologize for the (admittedly colorful) words I use, … others start questioning my motives and intentions, and when that doesn’t work … just start making stuff up that I didn’t say and downrating my comments.

Meanwhile, if  you would merely try to engage the substance of my argument rather than tut-tutting the way I say it, we might all come to some better understanding without all the fireworks.?

I think it is my responsibility to win over the ignorant, if that’s what I think of them. Those who hate me because I’m a Jew are free to do so. They aren’t going to change their minds because I tell them their hatred is immoral or unethical or just plain wrong. There’s some twisted way they justify their hatred.

And it’s up to me to find a way to untwist what I think is twisted rationale. Further, I think we have to come up with incentives, whatever they may be, in this quest to diffuse hatred of others.

Because I’m pretty sure those who promote, in their hideous and quiet and acceptable ways, hatred of blacks, jews, muslims, hispanics, gays et al understand how to incentivize hatred. Like our health care crisis is really the fault of all the mexican immigrants who don’t pay into the system. Or the chinese and indians are stealing our jobs… or the black criminals in jail get more rights than law-abiding citizens… gay marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage and families and must be the reason for high divorce rate… you know the drill and how it’s done…

It’s easy to paint the pictures that way. People understand it that way. It’s more difficult to paint this picture: the rise in CEO pay up what 38% since 9/11… exxon mobil profits… outsourcing our tax dollars to private corporations… how do we paint that picture into someone’s living room and everyday life? because these things are the root cause of middle class problems. not someone in india answering your computer question.

And one other thing I’m pretty damned sure of. Banning the word NIGGER is not going to change any of this.

Finding some way of making our picture clearer and showing how, by keeping our black brothers and sisters from voting in Florida in November 1999 actually fucked us all…………….. for example.

It isn’t controlling people’s words. IMO. It is doing the hard work of convincing people that what is in their best interest… stopping global corporate control of our countries and governments… can be attained by insuring and maintaining civil and human rights for all as a mainstay of that strategy.

So while George Bush talks about God and freedom and stopping evil and never using the word nigger, we have seen our country torture innocent people, invade a country for its resources, and create an economy with record home foreclosures, job loss, and people who have to choose now between heating their home and eating or paying their mortgage or buying medicine.

all done by people shouting about how great democracy is and how we are a nation of faith. murdering people in broad daylight in Iraq and talking about murdering more people by attacking Iran…

and with the consensus of the Democrats, most of whom placate us by agreeing we should ban words like “nigger.”

the real smart creeps have found more and better ways to promote their agenda of divisiveness and hatred… it’s the same strategy they used for their “healthy forests” and “clean skies” and “no child left behind” campaigns” and those fucking horrid e-mails that get sent around like this one

Teacher Letter by a Florida teacher.. A teacher speaks

people might see through this or at least question it more if they saw “those spics” in these e-mails. but this is more clever and far more dangerous, imo. it uses all acceptable words to lie in a bigger and more horrible way.

we can’t stop these e-mails. but we can work to give people a bigger frame-of-reference. some way of critically thinking that doesn’t immediately fall for clean skies, healthy forests, and no child left behind.

because now the refrain is: WE have 30 years of oil in the arctic. well, who the hell is WE? 30 years of oil based on what kind of usage? selling SUVs? making more plastics???? who is the we benefitting from devastating this habitat?

getting people to think about this bullshit claim (we have 30 years of oil) critically is no different, imo, than finding some way of unlocking our ability to think critically about why we “hate” others… and to look at who benefits from promoting such views…

and one last thing. if we ban one word, where does it stop? who are the gatekeepers? who gets to define the thresholds? do i allow books to be banned and can religious zealots fight legitimately to ban evolution because it is heresy?


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    • pfiore8 on June 28, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    and making it difficult for all the posters here at DD and to those i love, for putting any of them in the bad position of feeling like they had to take sides.

    i am not sorry for what i believe or what i’ve felt from everything that happened yesterday.

  1. who don’t make mistakes, are dead ones.

    You’re all beautiful!

    • RiaD on June 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    good job………

  2. There are certain words that are not said in my household. So, I do engage in active banning in my personal life. And it is very possible my decision has cut off dialog.

    Especially living in the south when I first moved here I pretty much felt like I had to set my own rules for who I wanted to try and be and damn the culture around me. A cousin of my spouse dropped the N word in casual conversation and I drew the line. He explained that “everybody used it and it id not mean anything”. I told him I wasn’t everyone, not that I thought I was special or unique but I never wanted to hear that word in my house. I went off. The bad part: he doesn’t visit very often and maybe I damaged my husband’s relationship with his cousin.

    I also suspect something was said to other family members and it affected a potential relationship with them. I have seen my own direct family members engage in reactive anger against “immigrants” and various groups and made myself unpopular so I don’t come from a “ideal liberal household either” which has led to plenty of teaching moments surrounding my own racism and assumptions of cultural superiority.

    I guess I have tried ( and failed many times ) to become my own gatekeeper, it is an ongoing process.

    • brobin on June 28, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Hope for the future.  Hope that this recent reality we are living will not repeat itself due to each of us learning, in our own individual way, what it is that we Hope for will come to fruition.

    The only way to bring our individual Hope to fruition is to work together to find the balance between those things we believe in and will defend to our utmost against things we cannot agree with, but perhaps can deal with as a compromise to the big picture.

    Sure, there are some things that we will simply NOT agree with and will fight to our utmost to banish from our discourse.  This includes the situation we have endured from our current administration, which was put into place by many administrations that preceded them.  It has come to a head for many of us, and we will no longer allow these conditions to continue to exist without real push-back.  This, too, is important.

    Let each of us here, sisters and brothers in arms against that which we must fight against, do one not-so-simple thing.  Let’s take our important Hope’s and entertwine them together as a team for the betterment of all.  Even for those that have no clue we are fighting for them.  Perhaps even more for them.  Someone has to stand up and do what is correct.  Why not us?

    My Hope right at this moment is that we can defend our ideals and fight that which we find to be completely and utterly wrong.  Together, with the understanding that as individuals we will not always agree that taking the same exact route to get there is correct, but that the IMPORTANT information we take from each other along the way might better allow us to grow and learn how to complete the trip with satisfaction.

    The point of a journey is not to arrive……

  3. is laudable, I just need to say that for me, this has never been about the banning of words. That feels like a straw man to me.  

  4. with that one.

    People get so stuck on one word in a whole paragraph (or essay) that they miss the intent, the meaning.

    I hate when a great discussion gets derailed by (dare I say it?) the PC police or the grammar nazis.

    I have had whole essays of mine derailed by missing the proper placement in the word



    Whats up with that?

  5. and the comments before this.  I went back back and read it all.  I found a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings and upset. That doesn’t often happen here, though it’s a common enough occurrence elsewhere.

    Let me say some obvious things.  These kinds of exchanges imo happen more when we’re typing than when we’re talking face to face.  Part of that is the inability to perceive the expression of the reader and the inability of the reader to interrupt/pause the speaker when s/he makes hurtful or incorrect statements, part of that is the anonymity and isolation of the typist and the lack of feedback while s/he is having his/her say, and part of it is that because of the rigid, sequential way these discussions unfold, the culture has no quick way to disapprove and terminate bad behavior.  This leads to things being endlessly hashed out and reacted to and commented on.

    Another obvious thought.  IMO what people get upset about is almost never what they are arguing about.  IMO it’s almost always something else.  Shrinks says the process is “projection.” For example, the argument isn’t about “free speech” as much as it is about how it is to be flatly invalidated as a person.  It isn’t about the particular words as much as it is about the hurts, violence, pain, fear, and anger the words are capable of unleashing.  I think this process is intensified by the Internet.  See, paragraph 1 above.

    All of this obvious stuff means imo that “being excellent” requires extra care in writing.  I’m not talking about self censorship.  I’m talking about trying to realize that all of us imo have blind spots about our words and trying to understand how the words we type will be understood and perceived.  Writing, I am trying to remember, isn’t just about unbridled self expression, it’s about communication with readers. Put another way, word choice in communicating is different from censorship.

    I hope this doesn’t sound patronizing.  If it does, I apologize.  I definitely don’t want to make things worse. I’d just like us to treat each other well.

  6. … hate language again, and this time in all caps.

    And everyone will say how wonderful you are to be throwing out the olive branch.

    And they will accept your use of hate words because after all they know what a lovely person you are.

    Your words disgust me.

    I don’t accept your use of hate words.  I condemn it.

    And I am once again very disappointed in this community for giving you a pass.  I guess it’s ok if you’re pfiore8.  And your charm offensive works and this essay is on the top of the rec list.  How predictable.

    This is not personal, no matter how many times you proclaim it is.  It is only personal to you.  Not to me.  And your making it personal gives everyone else a pass to accept your use of hate speech.  So I can understand why you choose that hypocritical path.

    The very words you use bely any real apology.  In any event, I want no apology from you or anyone else.

    I guess seven years of brutalizing language has come to this … that too few have the balls to call out hate speech when they see it … all for the sake of going along to get along.

    • kj on June 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    * an apology is one step.

    * an admission that you broke an agreement about respect and personal boundary lines is another.

    * honoring those agreed upon lines is yet another.

    until the second and third steps are firmly part of your program, i’m not convinced that this apology is anything more than an attempt to save face.  time will tell.

    • geomoo on June 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    WARNING:  graphic image at bottom of this comment.

    (I will type it the way a black brother typed it in my diary on dkos.  I take my cue from those who have suffered its use.)  Richard Prior filled his early monlogues with n****r.  He believed he would take away its power by defusing it.  When he returned from Africa, one change in attitude among many was that, as he explicitly said, he was wrong.  The word carries hate, he said, and it should not be used.

    There is no absolute right here, of course.  I’m not responding directly to you, pf, because I haven’t seen the original point you were making.  I certainly am against banning words or the conflation of word-banning with changing the deeper attitude behind the word.  One opportunity for showing respect to a marginalized group is to allow them to name how they want to be called.  I’m fairly clear that AA’s do not want to be called that by the larger culture, and I respect that no matter what they call each other.  Not that that prevents me from questioning whether the double standard represents racism or self-hatred.

    Use of the word for many, many years and still in some places was a statement of solidarity with racism.  It went hand in hand with “the only thing worse than a n****r is a n****r lover.”  It was accompanied by insults, smirks, and radically hateful remarks and actions.  I’m sure a lot of people have been called n****r just before they were lynched.  If one has compassion for others, one would not take this question lightly, nor would one use it in a debate simply to score points.  I hope no one here is doing that on either side.

    Finally, speaking of solidarity, I want to give my second to davidseth’s remarks above.  IMHO, emotion is driving thought in much of this upset.  People are feeling hurt, accused, undermined, ganged up on.  People are not responding to one another with respect for these feelings.  The words become  less about their own truth than about negotiating these feelings.  To his thoughts about the difference on the internet, I want to add that it’s all done publicly.  I don’t know how typical I am, but when I get into those heated debates, I’m acutely aware of how I might be perceived and I am fearful of looking foolish or even having everyone suddenly turn on me.  These fears can give an edge and a false importance to “winning” or “losing.”  In short, I would put out a plea for people to look at the feeling side of things a bit and try to think, as davidseth says, how the other person may look or feel.  We can all be certain that a huge percentage of our reactions to others is based on projection rather than who the other person really is.

    Okay. I’m going to tiptoe quietly out of the room now.  I just remembered a very important thing I have to go do.  In fact, it’s so important that I may never be able to read your responses.  Just in case.  Cringe.  Please may I have not stepped on any toes here.

    Well, I almost made it out alive, but I just can’t help myself. I guess this n****r question is just too important to me to not do what just came into my head to do.  To the people in the following photo, the strange fruit was a n****r, which somehow justified their behavior.


  7. nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger  nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger

    Happy now?

    My god pfiore, what is it you think you are doing?

    • kj on June 28, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    it looks to me like this non-apology is going to fly with the community.  there will be no accountability from pfiore8, and there isn’t anyone here, besides The Gang of Three, to ask her to do or say anymore than she’s done or said.

    sad standard.

  8. please advise what methods you would use to, in your words, “win over the ignorant”, and “untwist [] twisted rationale”?  

    …and if you could kindly do so without 7 or 8 unrelated tangents, i’d appreciate it…

    because you are basically representing here the exact kind of closed mind that you are also asserting can be persuaded to see other perspectives.  and from my late-to-the-discussion perspective, it would appear your heels are dug in pretty deeply….

    maybe its me, but there is a real disconnect between asserting that discussion can improve things, and vigorous defense of a position youve been made very aware is hurtful.  vigorous defense with additional use of a word youve been made aware is hurtful….and a disconnect between an apology that acknowledges that words have meaning and effect, which just happens to include a word which youve been made aware is hurtful, and has offended…



  9. as hurtful and painful to all, nor have I read all of the comments hereinabove, so I’ll refrain from referencing most of them.

    Personally, I avoid the use of any such words like “nigger,” “spic,” “sand nigger” and any and all such labels.  The use of these labels is an effort on my part to make myself seem “better” than another fellow human being, therefore, I don’t use them.

    Use of these labels is the result of a conditioned thought response, not a thought through response.  It requires no thought to come up with a prejudiced, hateful response.  

    On a different note, I have heard blacks refer to one of their own as a “nigger,” but it has a whole different connotation for them than our own use of the word “nigger.”

    I have heard, on many occasions in my life, the use of hate words. Sometimes, I have just walked away realizing the ignorance of the person who has used them, or, quite often, I have responded with a “Why?” or “Why do you feel that way?”  You would be surprised how stymied the person was — hardly knowing what to say in retort.  It’s not surprising at all, because usually people who use such words really have no basis for saying them, other than having learned it from their parents, community, peers, whatever.  

    And I’ll throw in just one more thing.  Tolerance for what has gone on and continues to go on has just about reached its peak in each of us, I believe, thus, there is an abundance of anxiety, frustration and anger resultantly.  And since our voices have not been heard, all those emotions are compounded and sometimes, I think people get into these situations as a result, in a vehicular sort of way.

    I also agree with Davidseth’s and geomoo’s comments.

    • Robyn on June 28, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I’ll no doubt get accused once again of being self-obsessed.

    I feel totally invalidated here.  Night Owl, even in his absence, gets to define what we were arguing about, gets to change the discussion into something totally opposed to what it was about and you guys get to argue about that.

    Fine.  Argue.  But please know that the original argument was not about banning of words but about educating someone about what the words mean and the baggage they carry.  And it was about disallowing people the right of self-definition for the sake of a damn joke at their expense.

    I’m done with it.  I don’t expect anything in the way of acknowledgment from you, pf8, for anything I’ve said here or anything that you said during the other conversation.  Maybe it would be better if you left it like that.

  10. …. I’m going to take a break.  I have no desire to participte in a melee; just wanted to go on record as to where I stand, for good or bad.

    I don’t think there is a single person here, including pfiore8, who wants to hurt anyone, who harbors hatred, whose intentions are to shut anyone down or tell someone what to do.

    I don’t think this is about personalities.

    I do think it’s about how we as a community will set our own standards.  How we will agree and disagree, and most important, whether we have the heart to see that there are folks who are marginalized by the very words we use.

    There is no right answer.

    It’s up to us.

    But if anyone has felt hurt or shut out by this conversation, I would ask you to consider what it is like for folks who feel like this every day of their lives.  Not to feel sorry for them or pity them, because they certainly don’t need that or ask for it.  Just to take that pain and consider what it may be like for someone else.

    Or don’t.

    • kj on June 28, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    the consensus is… Edger and Geomoo left after the obligatory fucks you, they might be back, they might not; Robyn’s point was missed by all but a few; NPK’s not a saint, KJ is an asshole supreme, NL is, well, i’m not sure what the consensus on NL was. i didn’t see that her pov was at all understood, except by the usual suspects, which is sad to me, because NL knows a ton a shit from experience about issues that the world is staring in the face right now.  but hey, she deals in ideas and that’s just too complicated for this medium.  but pf8’s off the hook.  she “apologized” and that’s the new apology standard for the blog.  (lol)  let’s see, what else? slurs are acceptable here, according to pf8’s and night owl (who has also left for now) because gd it all to hell, there will be no speech police!  no one but DianeW knows what a heyoke looks like, and even she and i disagree about that!  lol  (btw Diane, disagreement is standard for The Gang, but there are dues to be paid and ridicule to be gained, so you might want to think twice about joining the gang thing).  pf8’s friends will defend to the death her right to insult and slur, but take issue with anyone who dishes back to her the stew she makes.  because i guess that is not fair, it is whining, or it is mean, or it is bullying to bully a bully, whatever it is it isn’t fair to pf8 and that’s all that really matters, eh?

    pretty much standard for a blog, i guess.

    i do hope the hits were in the thousands.  😉

  11. I, as a person…not as any sort of “blog authority figure,” object to the casual use of the “N word.” You are free to use it, and I am free to jump all over you for using it.

    And I will.

    Especially for casual and repetitive use, as it is used in this essay. It offends me and I will voice that offense.

    ESPECIALLY if you cannot defend your use of the word for some “higher purpose,” as the author of this essay has yet to do.

    No one here (or any where else that I know of) is trying to ban the use of the word. That does not mean it can be used without objection or consequence.

    • srkp23 on June 28, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Odd for a blogger, perhaps. So, in any event, I have only read all of these threads with my eyes squinted and my body tensed up.

    I am someone who actually cannot pronounce or write the n* word. Literally. And I teach 19th century American literature, including slave narratives, and when working on passages, I do not pronounce that word. I am incapable. It’s not just a word.

    But that’s not my point here anyway.

    I don’t think it’s particularly a great use of time and energy as people or Dems to try and talk to and convince racists and haters. Let them be isolated in their already moribund ideologies. I can personally feel compassion for them, without expending better used energies to convert them to positive progressive change. Imho, we should be using our energies to appeal to the disenfranchised, those who have felt that electoral politics have nothing to offer them, those who have never registered or voted, those who have left the process through despair or cynicism. Let us awaken the sympathetic, but uninvolved, masses.

    Perhaps pfiore feels called to deal with the most recalcitrant of humans, the haters, but that is not my avocation. And in this crucial election cycle, I don’t think that is the group that needs to be addressed.

    Part of loving-kindness practice is to extend the compassionate circle to those for whom we feel the most aversion, and so in my meditations and daily life, I do try and keep the soft spot in view. This is, I suppose, both a personal and political task. But as a political activist and a person who hopes to contribute to positive global change, most of my energy is devoted to enlivening those who have been hated, excluded, left behind, unheard, unacknowledged, uncared for, and who already would have natural sympathies with progressive goals.

    Sorry if this is all beside the point, since I’ve only read these threads with my head tilted away and eyes squinting.

  12. but I believe understanding is growing out of it so, in the end, the fracas has been a good thing.

    I’m going to go back and read all however many hundreds of comments to see if I can piece it all together. Then I’ll be caught up while everyone else has moved on.

    I did want to say that I’m extremely aware of idiosyncrasies being ironed out of us, creating a world where everyone is supposed to act a certain way, i.e. “the same”, and that worries me. I wish different countries had their old customs, or new customs that weren’t all McDonald-ized. So the questions pfiore8 asks:

    and one last thing. if we ban one word, where does it stop? who are the gatekeepers? who gets to define the thresholds? do i allow books to be banned and can religious zealots fight legitimately to ban evolution because it is heresy?

    concern me greatly. The idea that we narrow our experience, eliminate personal style, is one extreme edge of who we are or could be.

    Specifically I’m talking about the dichotomy in American life that DeToqueville wrote about. On one hand we have the “rugged individualism” where everyone carves out his/her own destiny, dependent on nobody else, owing nothing to anyone else, and on the other we have the group, where the weakest must be cared for, where “we must all hang together”.

    Is there a way to have both?

  13. The things I miss by going out on dates…

      • kj on June 28, 2008 at 5:50 pm

      i appreciate that very much.  it is terribly difficult to communicate in this medium, and fwiw, that’s what the initial discussion(s) were attempting to address.  the dimension here is flat, which, i think, adds ridges to the outlines of words.  clear as mud, sorry.  but thank you.

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