Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Right to be Offensive

One of the biggest mistakes conservatives make is listening to conservatives. Well, that’s the biggest mistake anyone can make, but generally, it’s only conservatives who are at risk of this. And the reason that’s such a mistake is because conservatives are so results-oriented. It’s not about weighing the options and determining the best position. Conservatives determine what result they’re wanting, and then find ways to rationalize that position. And for as much as that position differs from the one they should have gotten, it’s naturally going to be wrong.

And thus it is with the race issue. Not all conservatives are racist. Far from it. Nor are only white people racist. But…if you’re going to be a white racist, you’re going to be a conservative. It’s simply a conservative position, while the liberal position is to oppose white racism. Not that liberals support any racism, but it’s generally racism from whites that they push back against, as that’s clearly the more serious problem.

And the odd thing about conservative racism is that it was initially the explicit position, with liberals taking the opposite stance. But now, much of conservative racism is actually a pushback against liberal opposition to racism.  As if it's somehow ok to support an offensive position, just as long as you don't like the people who oppose it. And unfortunately for the entire conservative movement, this has pulled even non-racist conservatives onto the racist team; not because they’re racist, but because they oppose all liberalism.  But really, if your position supports racism, then you're a racist, whether or not you personally hate people of other races. 

And conservatives understand this when it comes to terrorism, as anyone who defends Bin Laden's right to kill Americans, ipso facto, is on Bin Laden's team.  Yet somehow, they imagine that they can defend the right to be racist without actually being racist.  But...if your policy forces blacks to the back of the bus, you're just as bad as the people who actually force them there.

It's the Context, Stupid

And this gets me around to my point: Laura Schlessinger and the N-Word. I have no idea if Laura Schlessinger is a racist. For all I know, some of her best friends could be n-words, and they're totally comfortable with her telling them that.  Frankly, the lady totally creeps me out and I never want to know Dr. Laura enough to find out what she really thinks about black people. 

But...her rant about how white people should get to use the n-word certainly would put her on Team Racist.  It's bad enough that she used the word eleven times, but by actually attacking someone who was offended by it, she certainly showed which side she's on.  And unfortunately, far too many conservatives agree that they should have the right to use that word, simply because some black people use it.

And the concept that conservatives are having so much trouble here is context. Context is everything, as it gives people an idea of what you're talking about.  The same words spoken by two different people can have wildly different meanings.  It's assumed that a black person isn't racist against blacks, so if a black person uses the n-word, it's assumed that weren't insulting blacks.  But...if a black person uses the word while insisting that blacks are stupid and lazy, then they'll be attacked just as much as if a white person said it; possibly more.

Similarly, if I, as a white person said “White people really need to be more sensitive towards the feelings of black people,” it’d be different than if Obama said it.  That's just common sense.  And the point isn't that people get to insult people of their own race or that black people get to use certain words white people can't.  It's that the context of the situation tells people what the words mean. 

PC For Me, Not for Thee

Conservatives know this, except for when it comes to them defending their right to insult minorities.  For them, not only do they feel they have the right to insult minorities, but they also feel they have the right to attack anyone who's offended by these insults.  That's what Dr. Laura was doing, as well as anyone else who attacks "political correctness."  Unsurprisingly, they don't seem to feel the same way when people insult Christianity.  It's all fun and games until someone disses Yahweh.

And that's what made Dr. Laura's remarks so wrong.  Not that she was using it directly to insult anyone, but that she was trying to mainstream the word in order to make it so black people should feel ashamed if they're offended by it.  It's like someone reporting a burglary and the police tell them to shut up and stop being so materialistic.  Not only are racists allowed to be racists, but their victims have no right to complain.

For as much as "political correctness" is a horrible thing for conservatives to endure, it really just amounts to basic human kindness.  Just because we have the right to offend people doesn't mean that people should be forced to accept offensive remarks.  If you have the right to make a remark, I have the right to complain about it.  And that's the part of free speech that conservatives have trouble grasping, as they truly want to believe it only applies to them.  Everyone else just needs to learn to shut up and suck it.

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