Sunday, March 21, 2010

In which Jo reserves the right to be condescending as hell.

There is some....person I've never met on my Facebook feed.

(Yes, I'm on Facebook. At least it's not MySpace, okay?)

He argued today, in response to an article posted that talked about healthcare reform protesters shouting what's called "The N Word" at members of Congress, that calling somebody a mouth-breather and calling somebody a N-asterisk were exactly equivalent.

Even if the person doing the shouting in the second case, the perp if I can call him that, was a white male.

And he defended that position. Twice.

(No, no, don't do that! You'll get a nasty, nasty bruise on your forehead if you bang it on the desk that way. Stop.)

Here's what I wrote in reponse:

Robert, I just got up from a nap and am feeling fairly rested, so I'll try to 'splain this to you:

The word "Nigger" has historical connotations not unlike those carried by the word "Juden". It harks back to a time of the enslavement of a group of people, and the later marginalization and murder of members of that group by the dominant members of society, white men. For a white person to call a black person a "Nigger" is to knowingly invoke that context, thus adding a level of threat to the insult.

One white person calling another a mouth-breather is, while fairly silly, not at all comparable. For one thing, there is an equal historical power balance assumed in the relationship. For another, there has never been a wholesale enslavement, degredation, or slaughter of mouth-breathers by other members of society.

I would invite you to test my statements by calling members of whatever ethnicity you like mouth-breathers, then trying the experiment with the other word.

Post-racial society my *ass*. It may be just me, but it seems like the bigots and their defenders are coming out of the woodwork, especially with the healthcare debate going on. (See Penny's comment on "The Morning After The Nights Before", below, for an example.) Something has made these folks feel safe, and I'm not sure what it is.

Whatever it is, the same people weren't yelling about government-subsidized highway construction or the heavy government subsidies of gasoline, or even the billions of dollars spent on the war in Iraq--when a white guy was in office. In fact, when I heard a story on lifting government subsidies on gasoline a couple of summers ago on NPR, I heard exactly the same sort of panicked rhetoric from the same sorts of people, about how it would DESTROY THE UNIVERSE OMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIIIIIIEEEEE!


I guess there'll always be ignorant people in the world, like those folks on Medicare interviewed on NPR who didn't want the government involved in their healthcare, by gum. I guess there'll always be people who are bigoted and mean-spirited. I just wonder what force of nature lifted their rocks so they could crawl out, blinking, into the sunlight.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. I think we're in the midst of another "white backlash", ever since Obama decided to run for office, and obviously even more so since he's been president.

And this is not so much racist, but still blew my mind, in reference to the whole health care debate... you made have seen this already:


Crazed Nitwit said...

Yes! well said. I completely agree with you and I would have deleted that person as friend.

Penny Mitchell said...

Crazed Mom, the "man" who was making those comments was a high school classmate of W, who is a mutual friend of Jo's and mine. When W posted her original comments on health care, it got posted to our pages, too. This "man's" subsequent comments to W also showed up on our pages. He is in no way FB friends of ours. I'm not going to be surprised if W axed him after tonight, actually.

I have FB friends who are quite conservative, and we've had some rather spirited talks's never disintegrated into the nonsense Jo referenced here. This "man" would stand in a flaming building and insist that it wasn't burning down around his head, as long as Rush Limbaugh told him so.

Anonymous said...

Health Care for all !!! :)
Every once in a while, I post a link to your blog on my facebook page... I have to share your funny stuff!! :)
I hope that is okay, if not just comment back and I'll delete it from my page. I just had to share your fashion tips the other day it cracked me up !!
Keep on blogging...

Abilene Rob said...

A sitting member of Congress called the President a liar during a public address, and a member of congress was called "Baby Killer" on the House floor this afternoon. If this kind of behavior is acceptable within the halls of Congress, we're lucky the mouthbreathers aren't wrapping pipe bombs in used teabags and lobbing them at the White House.

The kind of hatred - racism, homophobia, misogyny - is an easy way to mobilize terro... err... voters, and it's very effective. I think the unreasoning rage is being deliberately stoked and lovingly tended, which is why we're seeing more of it.

Holly said...

1. I think I'll adopt "mouth-breather" as my new derogatory name. It's quite funny.
2. This racism issue regarding our President always gets me - he is as much white as he is black, yet people see what they want to see.
3. I think everyone on Facebook swallowed a meaniehead pill this week. Suddenly political opinions are in high supply and civility is coming up short.

I always enjoy your posts. Thanks!

messymimi said...

I guess if everyone on earth could learn to disagree without being disagreeable or worse, we would be closer to Utopia.

Bardiac said...

I think your point about the threat being added to the insult is really important. The systemic violence of racism can't be forgotten or ignored.

There's no systemic violence about mouth-breathing.

JacquiBee said...

I live and nurse in New Zealand and we cant see the difference between govt run police force, army, fire service, and health service. that what we have the govt run these services for us. We are not a porr country nor are we rich we don't have enought to give every single person instant access to every treatment they might need and or want but every person who comes through our ED emergently will get treated. they don't get told you don't have insurance go away and the govt doesn't say (like some insurers do) no more funds or we wont cover that or other such nonsense. See Susanne Gordan's blog for more (she is an American patient (and therefore nurse) advocate that i met last year who is great:)

Anonymous said...

I think I remember in California Prop 8 receiving huge support from the black community. A supposed oppressed minority voting in mass to repleal rights from an actual oppressed minority.

That would be the equalivant of me voting to reinstare slavery.