Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hatred by any other name...smells

From Blogger’s Content Policy: “Users may not publish material that promotes hate toward groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity.” This is not a problem, as I wasn’t planning on promoting hate toward anyone anyway. Nonetheless....

Can anything possibly be more irritating than somebody like Ann Coulter saying “of course I’m not allowed to say [fill in hateful utterance] because it’s not politically correct”? Notice that she did say it, even within the act of claiming she’s not allowed to? Notice also that she and her many cohorts on talk radio and Fox News have made incredibly lucrative careers out of such cheap demagoguery, all the while insisting it’s not permitted? Overall, sentiments along the lines of “man, I can’t even burn a cross or beat up gays without being criticized anymore” leave my well of empathy rather dry. And yet, it's striking to see how successfully “political correctness” has been co-opted by wealthy bigots seeking to present themselves as rebels against an oppressive liberal elite.

Watching the ongoing presidential race, I'm fascinated (and horrified) by the verbal contortions some people go through to get the point across that Barack Obama is “not one of us.” Get this: “Obama” rhymes with “Osama!” And that means he’s just like the guy behind 9/11! Okay, and, "Bush" rhymes with "Tush" and, as so many tasteless comedians have pointed out, it's also a common term for pubic hair, and, combined with a vice president named “Dick”...never mind. More damning, anyway, is the middle name: Hussein! It doesn’t take a songwriter’s facility with rhyme to get that one! Especially since he never uses it! He’s hiding it, just like Saddam hid in that basement! There’s no getting around this one! Except...if conservatives consider middle names so revealing, what’s their problem with William Jefferson Clinton? I mean...would they want to impeach one of our Founding Fathers? Repeal the Declaration of Independence? Give the Louisiana Purchase back to those surrender monkeys in France? They must really hate America! Or, perhaps, they’re simply desperate for means to imply the “n word” without actually coming out and saying it.

Ultimately, it seems that how prejudice is expressed, or the emotional content of that expression, tends to be given more weight than its potential effects. Suppose a drunk guy staggers into the room and starts calling people “bitches” and “faggots,” responding loudly and belligerently to anyone who doesn’t share his particular viewpoint. Almost everybody will agree that this person is a bigot and an asshole and that his stated opinions and attitudes need not be respected. Now suppose another guy walks in, sober and pious, holding up his Holy Book and announcing that, according to his God, women should be completely subordinate to men, gays and lesbians should be put to death, and anyone who doesn't believe in his book and follow its laws deserves to be tortured eternally. In such a case, many will politely disagree, but terms like “intolerance” will most likely be reserved for anyone who fails to respect this person’s deeply held faith. But can there be any doubt which of the two is more dangerous?

4 comments:

The Clandestine Samurai said...

It's a good thing you said "most likely be reserved for", because both the religious man and the drunk would've most likely received my verbal wrath if it came to it (possibly my physical wrath as well). And I'm a Christian.

Why so angry? (10 pts. if you can tell me which film I just referenced) it's because of stupid rhetoric like the conservatives like to employ. They are a very superficial people, from playing off society's fear of terrorism in order to put privitized funds from exporting oil in their own pockets, to being remarkably inconsiderate in matters of national economy and infrastructure. I have suggestions for confronting these kinds of people, but God would not approve of such tactics.

Lisa Allender said...

Hi there, just browsing through your earier posts. Again, what a great blog you have!
Indeed, the bigot who employs their "interpretation" of scripture certainly can do more damage than the belligerent drunk fellow.

msday said...

You must have really been pissed off with Fox News to sit down and blog at 1:50am. However, that's okay, I love your blog and agree with you totally.

Tamara said...

Writing about controversial topics with the greatest of ease. Humor and sincerity without being overbearing; your blog is awesome.