Saturday, November 27, 2010

De-valuing words - even pejoratives!

For a pejorative to maintain its sting, it needs both fair definition and a certain rarity.

When we use the word "racist", as an example, to mean "a small-minded and possibly hateful person of any particular color who judges individuals on the basis of their membership in a real or perceived racial grouping, rather than on their individual merits or lack thereof" - we can then look upon such an individual for the fool and asshat that they are, and depending on the circumstances, engage in either ridicule or self-defense activities with proper vigor.

When we change the definition to "a small-minded and possibly hateful white (or blue, black, brown, or polka-dotted) person of any particular color who judges individuals on the basis of their membership in a real or perceived racial grouping, rather than on their individual merits or lack thereof" we diminish the meaning by inserting an obvious logical fallacy - judging folks based on skin hue, rather than on individual character, is equally reprehensible no matter who is busy about the judging. When we claim that it's only bad when a particular hue is doing the judging, we defeat our own argument. We diminish the sting of the phrase, and open the concept to ridicule based on the fallacy we ourselves have introduced.

When we further demean the term by referring to any criticism of a person of color (say, a President or his/her policies) as (for the purposes of this example) racist, we shortly get to the point where the sting is lost nearly entirely, as thinking individuals lose swiftly lose the ability to take such ludicrous accusations seriously - followed shortly by, as a result of our own actions, skepticism even when legitimate claims of racism are raised.

This is not a new concept. One might describe it as the "Boy Who Cried Wolf" error, simply writ in different terms. When folks start, after offering criticism of the current administration and their policies, to *laugh* and call themselves racist, we can be fairly sure that not only the term has lost its' sting, but that through sheer overuse we've diminished the very concept.

Handy example used, and now set aside, we now have the Ladies of the View opining that the founders of "National Opt Out Day" are, by seeking to cause some level of economic pain or inconvenience (oh, perhaps, similar to when a union strikes?) to our Robot Overlords Bureaucratic Nanny-State Masters the current Administration in hope of some relief from PornScansBack-Scatter X-ray devices (operating at unknown radiation levels) and GateRapeEnhanced Patdowns (with minimal concern for or understanding of biological cross-contamination) are somehow terrorists . Le Sigh.

Will those of you with more than two simultaneously firing neurons please raise your hand and draw the analogy alluded to above?


Anyone who disagrees, peaceably, utilizing established measures to lawfully protest (including, within sharply defined limits, procedurally monkey-wrenching the system) is now a terrorist? By encouraging folks to not fly, to opt out (as is their legal right), and to exercises their constitutional rights is now a bad scary terrorist in the eyes of The View?

Y'all can f* right off.

Ladies. Find an English Teacher, by preference one that uses a clue stick as a training device, and take a remedial course NOW. I'd normally suggest a dictionary, but I'm less than optimistic that it would be sufficient to the task of remedying your misunderstanding.

Clue: If bullets aren't flying and shrapnel isn't in the air, nothing is exploding or falling out of the sky, there aren't dead or bleeding bodies bouncing about, or bio/chem agents aren't in play (and nobody is planning to make any of the above so), you may have a lot of things (including strenous disagreement, perhaps with the use of traditional non-violent protest mechanisms), but you don't have terrorism.



Lokidude said...

By their definition, Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, and so many others who protested, marched, and agitated for civil rights are also terrorists. And I for one would LOVE to see the look on Whoopi's face if somebody hit her over the head with THAT cluebat.

Old NFO said...

Loki beat me to it... and yeah, clueBAT is needed here!