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December 10, 2009

Oh For Pete's Sake

Get a grip, people:

In my last post, I quoted an article and asked whether this is racism:

On the one hand, Ebonie Johnson Cooper doesn’t care that Tiger Woods’ wife and alleged mistresses are white because Woods is “quote-unquote not really black.”

“But at the same time we still see him as a black man with a white woman, and it makes a difference,” said Johnson Cooper, a 26-year-old African-American from New York City. “There’s just this preservation thing we have among one another. We like to see each other with each other.”

Most of you agreed that this was racist. Now, tell me whether you consider this to be an equally racist statement:

As Steffgen predicted, the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument* that a white person said this. Is it “racist”? Or “racialist”? Or something else?

Before we go on, let's take this step by step. A black woman says it's natural for blacks to want to preserve racial purity (and that is exactly what she's saying: that blacks don't like to see mixed race couples). In most people's minds, this begs a follow on question: If blacks have a natural discomfort with mixed race couples, is it equally natural for whites to feel the same discomfort?

Or is it racist simply to admit this discomfort exists in some people's minds (regardless of whether they're white or black)?

What makes us so uncomfortable about this statement? Is it that we don't believe people truly feel that way? I doubt that. Or is it that we know they do, but wish they didn't? Is it, perhaps, that in both cases the speaker failed to condemn the discomfort; even going so far as to imply that it's perfectly natural?

Finally, what's wrong with Patterico's question? Why is it off limits? I happen to think it's a good question; one worth discussing. But then I saw only a question, not an accusation or a personal attack:

Patrick tries to get the Charles Johnson-ish charges of racism against Robert Stacy McCain to stick, and fails.

For the record, I do not buy Pat’s argument that anyone who has hangups about interracial dating and marriage is racist. For one thing, if one is going to concede that, then one has to concede that there are a lot of black racists out there. A lot.

Why is the conclusion that black racism exists unacceptable?

It's funny. I took this to be precisely the point of Patterico's post: what difference does it make who says a thing? If you agree the statements say the same thing and you decide the first statement was racist, consistency demands that you call the second statement racist too. In other words, the same standard ought to be applied to both statements.

Regardless of the race of the speaker. And regardless of whether the second speaker is "one of us" (conservative, white) or "one of them" (liberal, black). Absent a convincing explanation of how those two statements differ semantically, if you refuse to apply the same standard then I can't help suspecting you of indulging in outcome-based moral reasoning.

Which doesn't strike me as intellectually honest. In fact, it strikes me as exactly the same kind of tribalism we conservatives love to point out on the Left: Ooooh! here's an unforgiving standard for people we don't agree with! And a different, far more lenient standard for those on "our side"! Would this post have aroused one tenth of the outrage it generated if the author of the second quote had been Michael Moore? I doubt it, because no one in his right mind defends Michael Moore.

*rim shot*

Seriously, let's face it: in that case we'd all have reached a conclusion that confirmed what we already thought. That feeling of comfort must mean we're right (pun fully intended). Since we're on the subject, did Patterico actually call Stacy a racist? It's hard to make that case without superimposing your feelings onto Patrick's actual remarks:

That Quote Most of You Called “Racist” Was Written by Robert Stacy McCain

Whom I always liked, to be honest with you, as a funny and seemingly sensible guy. And I’m not saying that one racist/prejudiced quote brands you as a racist for all time. But at the same time, he wrote something that would make most of us cringe.

I invite you to tell me what is wrong/bad about that statement? Do any of you seriously buy the notion that one insufficiently race-neutral quote (according to some) makes one a racist? Man, oh man am I in trouble! Joy, though I don't think that's the point she intended to make, shows what's wrong with this reasoning:

For the record, I do not buy Pat’s argument that anyone who has hangups about interracial dating and marriage is racist. For one thing, if one is going to concede that, then one has to concede that there are a lot of black racists out there.

But why should "there are a lot of black racists out there" be an unacceptable conclusion? What makes it unacceptable? What race blind principle do we apply to arrive at that conclusion?

Was anyone outraged at the suggestion that Ms. Cooper's statement was racist? If so, I missed the flurry of posts defending her from this vile accusation. If the two statements express the same idea (that it's natural for black/white people to prefer same-race couples), what race blind principle do we apply to conclude that Ms. Cooper's statement was racist, but Stacy's isn't? Mind you, I don't concede that either statement is racist. Here's why. This, also.

It would seem that scoring points on the opposition (or preventing them from scoring points on you) has become more important than applying standards evenly. Which is really a shame when you think about it, because faithful adherence to our principles and applying standards fairly is supposed to be what conservatism is all about.

Except, of course, when our own standards suddenly seem - rightly or wrongly - inconvenient. Then, it becomes extremely important to superimpose what you think your opponent said on top of what he actually said so you can defeat your version of what you want him to have said:

... if you believe a statement, as a linguistic entity (which always presumes intent somewhere along the interpretive chain), is somehow, say, inadvertently racist — that is, if you don’t think RS McCain really meant it as a racist statement — then on what basis are you calling it a racist statement in the first place, especially if you admit to believing it was not intended as such? Alternately, if you believe the statement is racist, but that its utterer is not racist, where, precisely, does the “racism” come from in that particular formulation?

And the answer to that is that it comes from the person interpreting, the person or persons who, for whatever their reasons, decide that the statement is racist, but yet won’t to commit to the full-on charge of racism against the the statement’s utterer. It’s a cowardly argument; it hasn’t balls; it lacks confidence in its convictions.

And I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. If you believe the statement is racist, you believe that it was uttered with racist intent. If you don’t believe it was uttered with racist intent, the statement is not racist, unless the intent to see racism comes from another source, in this case, from some agency who imbues the statement with a meaning that he doesn’t attribute to the original utterer.

This argument makes very little sense when you examine it closely. Let's go back to the part of Stacy's comment that seems to be bothering people:

"...the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion."

Did Stacy say that he is repulsed by mixed race couples? No. Did he say that there should be no mixed race couples? Again, no. So there is no racist intent and indeed Patterico didn't say there was. What Stacy appears to have said is that some people - people who are perfectly rational - feel revulsion when they see a mixed race couple. That's arguably a true statement which makes two points:

1. The revulsion is "natural" or instinctual, and
2. Merely feeling such a feeling does not, in and of itself, render these people irrational.

I don't think it's wildly unreasonable to conclude that this feeling of revulsion is racial, (or racist, or whatever term we want to use) in nature, though. That's not necessarily what I think, but I can easily see how a rational and reasonable person might disagree with me. According to the dictionary, a racist is a:

1 : person who believes race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race 2 : person who practices racial prejudice or discrimination.

Absent the skin color difference AND the feeling that skin color matters in some important way, there is no reason to feel revulsion. It's a totally race-based feeling, characterized by the idea that skin color makes some kind of difference. But does simply feeling that way (or simply admitting that "some people" feel that way and that this feeling - which is apparently shared by a fair number of blacks - is "natural") make one a racist?

I think that depends upon whether one buys into the notion of thought crime. Men look at porn all the time. The feeling they have when they look at it is entirely "natural" (I've heard it said that men are wired that way). Think about it: the entire reason for looking at naked women you are not married to is to satisfy the craving for sexual variety by indulging the fantasy that you are violating your marriage vows. So if a man regularly indulges his completely understandable, beautiful and natural urge to dream of drilling surgically enhanced 19 year olds he's not married to... and yet never actually has sex with someone else, does that make him an adulterer?

If a person has feelings that are racially motivated, and yet chooses not to act upon those feelings, is he a racist?

We all have feelings and they are "natural". Some of these feelings are laudable and some not so praiseworthy. Some we would feel perfectly comfortable acting upon in front of our grandmothers and some would make us ashamed, were we to act upon them.

It's quite possible to have feelings that conflict with your moral code. If you are scrupulous about obeying your moral code rather than giving into your immoral or amoral feelings, would it be fair to call you an immoral person? Your actions, after all, are moral. It is only your feelings that fail to live up to the same standard. Therefore it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to decide that one might have racist instincts, and yet not be a racist because those instincts are never acted upon.

Of course reasoning like that is really no fun because you run the risk of undermining your argument that your opponent is a dirty rotten scoundrel for not saying what you firmly believe he said and attacking his own side by pointedly and repeatedly saying he doesn't think Stacy is a racist. That friendly fire is always so devastating, isn't it? And then of course, you miss all the fun of defending someone who really doesn't need defending at all because it turns out he didn't do anything wrong.

Bummer.

The interesting thing here is that Stacy didn't even say HE has those feelings. He might, he might not. I don't really care because if we begin condemning people on the strength of feelings and instincts that are not representative of their moral code or their behavior, then every single one of us is a racist. And an adulterer. And a liar. And possibly even a murderer.

So I guess you'd have to put me firmly in the "calm the hell down" camp. I see zero evidence that Patrick called Stacy a racist. And I see zero need to defend Stacy against made up accusations even if he did say exactly what it's alleged he said. What Stacy said was true (many people don't like to see mixed race couples, though possibly not for the reasons one might think). And what Patrick said was true (Stacy's remark does make most of us uncomfortable).

That's because most of us don't want to be racists. Just as most of us don't approve of adultery. This is a good thing. It means our consciences work.

And it sure would be nice if everyone could go back to DEFCON 5 and try to look at this dispassionately. Perhaps this will help.

Then again, maybe y'all would rather be offended and outraged.

Update: What she said.

Posted by Cassandra at December 10, 2009 06:19 AM

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Comments

I never really cared about race as much as I did background and religion.

Posted by: Joyless Harridan at December 10, 2009 08:24 AM

I think that's a very astute point, O Joyless One.

I believe we often conflate race with culture. In the aggregate that may not be unreasonable, but one marries individuals, not aggregates :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 08:35 AM

I actually know neither gentleman, but one thing about the exchange bothers me, and it's this:

"I didn’t call you a racist. I very pointedly did not.

Nor (contrary to the assertions of some who are liars or bad at reading) did I say you are not. I don't know."

That troubles me. Patterico seems to be hiding behind the "I never called you a racist," while winking and nodding to others "I didn't say he wasn't either." It troubles me because it seems to be a response tailored to libel someone (and no I am NOT accusing him of a crime, I merely am using the word) while avoiding the legal definition of it.

I liken it to "Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?" "No sir, but I do bite my thumb sir" from Romeo and Juliet. The one man is ATTEMPTING to start a fight by provoking the other man, while maintaining a legal fiction that he's not acting provocatively. That just rubs me the wrong way.

Grim could TOTALLY explain what I'm getting at much better, I know. As for YOUR point m'lady, here's how I see it. It may be racially prejudiced to feel uncomfortable with mixed race marriage (I personally do not give a fig about someone's melanin content or ethnic background, and if my sister brought home a half-chinese, half-nigerian, half-inuit, one-quarter-mongol man OR WOMAN, I'd welcome him/her into the family) as prejudicial is the right term for disliking something and the motivation in the listed cases (both of them) are on a racial basis. But does that mean that RSM or Ebonie Johnson Cooper believes in the inherent superiority of one race over another? NO.

And frankly, I'm sick and tired of the "racialist gotcha witch hunts" that seem to becoming all the rage over the right-o-sphere. I mean SERIOUSLY, have you silly bastards not heard of "friendly fire"? I assure you, it's not friendly and helps nothing.

Personally, I blame those dirty JOOOOOOS! :P

Posted by: MikeD at December 10, 2009 09:45 AM

Here's a thought experiment for you.

What would happen if, the next time the Left (or anyone else) threw the race card, we didn't go ballistic?

Personally I don't care at all for people on the right telling me (on my own site, no less) that I'd better not stray off the reservation. And there has been a lot of that on the right.

Seems to me that if your ideas hold water, you should not be afraid to have them discussed and even questioned. I did not see this the way you did at all.

I think Patrick's point is an excellent one. In fact, it's the one Jeff G. invoked in defense of Stacy before turning right around and imputing base motives to Patrick: None of us are mind readers. We don't know what is really in someone's heart... and so it's bogus and unconvincing to pretend you do.

None of this is offensive (at least in my view) unless you are willing to think the worst of the other guy. I took Patrick's point to be, "I have no rational basis, simply from that one statement, EVEN IF I PERSONALLY THINK IT'S RACIALLY CHARGED, for concluding Stacy is a racist."

IOW, it's actually a pretty good defense against the charge of racism, not an accusation of same. And you know what? I agree with him on that score.

I disagree that either statement was racist per se. BUT EVEN IF THEY WERE (IOW, the worst case scenario) that wouldn't make either one a racist. Not enough evidence.

I don't think many people saw that, though. Too busy watching their own heads explode.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 10:01 AM

IOW, to conclude that saying you don't have enough information to either call someone a racist OR say they're not a racist is tantamount to implying that they are a racist is a real stretch.

Personally I can't be bothered defending myself against people who say they don't have enough information to either absolve me or damn me because no accusation was made. I don't jump at shadows.

Which no doubt explains a lot about my traffic :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 10:06 AM

World Net Daily (Bob Unruh) quoted the U of Delaware's definition of racism this way:

" "A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. 'The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination….' "

The education program [U of Delaware] also notes that "reverse racism" is "a term created and used by white people to deny their white privilege." And "a non-racist" is called "a non-term," because, the program explains, "The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift the responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of color (called 'blaming the victim').""

As the quote clearly states, many believe (perhaps due to the educational system, affirmative action, etc.) that the term "racism" means that WHITE people ONLY can be racists. People of color, by this definition, cannot.

Many in these noted blog attacks are applying this same faulty definition, from what I have read. The Other McCain is just the current target.

My question: why do Conservatives fall into this trap so easily? Who needs Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" when the Right does such a good job of annihilating ourselves? Or, perhaps, is this the Alinsky tactics in action?

Posted by: DINORight at December 10, 2009 10:13 AM

because as peoples within the U.S. system, they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities, or acts of discrimination….' "

Except when whites institute legally sanctioned discriminatory practices that disadvantage the majority and privilege the minority based on nothing more than skin color :p

The thing is, most of these race card attacks are pretty thin gruel. As you note, they rely on a presumption of guilt that is, in itself, racially discriminatory and racist.

Personally, I would just fail to buy into that premise. It's so stupid that it doesn't really merit rebutting, and in fact since it's not based on evidence, no amount of evidence to the contrary can refute it.

But durned if we don't try every time. What a waste.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 10:22 AM

I couldn't give a fig if someone calls me a racist. I reject their reinterpretation of the term. It is meaningless.

Now, if someone called me a liberal, they would find a golf club up their hind quarters.

Posted by: RogerCfromSD at December 10, 2009 10:28 AM

Heh :)

I don't worry much over whether someone will call me a racist. I know my own heart, and more importantly I know my own actions.

A charge made on no evidence but the speaker's own prejudice is inherently silly. It's opinion to which he is entitled, but I don't have to take it seriously and if fact I refuse to submit to attention rapists.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 10:47 AM

I'll throw down with Joyless Harridan's sentiment too and go on to say that in this age, at least in this nation, I'd venture that race is a distant consideration, if one at all, for most members of the group formerly tagged as The Oppressors©. That content of one's character, or words to that effect thing.

Now IMO, if only we would get past the hyphenated monikers, we could move the sticks a might further down the field.

"Personally I can't be bothered defending myself against people who say they don't have enough information to either absolve me or damn me because no accusation was made. I don't jump at shadows.

Which no doubt explains a lot about my traffic :p"

Sciophobe!

Posted by: The Shadow at December 10, 2009 10:53 AM

Or should that be anitdisenSciophobe?

Posted by: The Shadow at December 10, 2009 10:54 AM

Racism -- actual racism, in contrast to all sorts of things which get called racism, but are not -- includes a prominent value judgment of higher moral worth based on race, and typically includes the desire to use coercion, generally but not exclusively state coercion, to police and enforce this “superiority.”

Ebonie Johnson Cooper said more than is quoted in your OP. She went on to say that she’d have thought twice about voting for Obama had he married a white woman.

Desiring to see one’s own racial group flourish is not, per se, racist.

Desiring that one’s relatives (continue to) be of one’s own racial group is not, per se, racist.


And the term ‘race’ is a word with a much richer meaning than is typical to these sorts of discussions and/or accusation. The modern fixation of the word on skin-color and physiognomy is recent and derivative; the word doesn’t even necessarily have anything to do with biological relationships, it’s about the commonalities which distinguish one group of individuals from similar groups. For instance, to speak of “the race of fishmongers” is but to speak of those who earn their living selling fish, in contrast to those who do not.


And, by the way, one reason that so many black men aren’t too interested in black women is that black women tend frequently to treat black men even more disrespectfully than so many white women treat white men.

Posted by: Ilíon at December 10, 2009 10:56 AM

As a Black conservative, I have to agree with the character Hank Hill from "King of the Hill" when asks, "What the hell kinda' country IS this where I can't hate a guy unless he's white?!"

Posted by: Spiggott at December 10, 2009 11:01 AM

"Personally, I blame those dirty JOOOOOOS! :P"

It sounds more intellectual, and thus respectable, don't you think, to blame those perfidious JOOOOS! ;)

Posted by: Ilíon at December 10, 2009 11:02 AM

That's a good (and humorous) question, Spiggott. Thanks.

Posted by: Ilíon at December 10, 2009 11:08 AM

Yougotthatrightman. Dangedcountrygoingtoheckinahandbasketman...

Hey, wannabeerSpiggott?

Posted by: Boomhauer at December 10, 2009 11:17 AM

I will admit to not paying a whole lot of attention to the Cooper quote. I thought the quote was pretty hokey in the sense that Tiger Woods has far more Asian in him than anything else.

That's why he lists for ethnicity/race: Asian. Not black. I understand why some folks think it's super important to "claim" him, but I think it's kind of bizarre considering his actual genetic makeup.

Likewise, I can understand where one might infer approval or at least tolerance/tacit acceptance of being disgusted by mixed race pairings in Stacy's quote. I'm just not so sanguine about the validity of assuming I know why anyone feels that way. I don't like either quote, but in Stacy's case he's not saying HE feels that way, but that others do and he doesn't think it's racism.

One can choose to see approval in that. Or one might simply see recognition that feelings aren't rational and matter less than actions.

What bothers me is anyone reading too much into the words of others. Stacy writes all the time. If they have to go back that far to find anything incriminating, I'm going to think, "Man. Is that the best you can do?" and give him the benefit of the doubt. Not b/c he's Stacy, and certainly not b/c he's a conservative, but because the accuser didn't make a convincing case for such a serious accusation, even if you put the worst construction on his remark. And no amount of shrieking changes that :)

I tend to agree that her statement is more damning than his b/c she indicates that she would allow her feeling to affect the way she treats others and he doesn't. He doesn't say either way.

Which is why I'm not upset by Patterico's statement that he doesn't have enough evidence to form a conclusion either way. He doesn't!

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 11:17 AM

"What the hell kinda' country IS this where I can't hate a guy unless he's white?!"

Heh :) I am so stealing that.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 11:19 AM

***
Racists come in all skin colors, from all ethnic backgrounds, from all countries, etc.
***
Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. had the best vision--a person should see all other people as individuals worthy of respect. MLK got his vision from God, not from man.
***
John Bibb
***

Posted by: John Bibb at December 10, 2009 11:34 AM

"By this definition, people of color cannot be racists,..."

The person who wrote this definition never spent any time as the only visible white person in Compton. Much less the only visible white person in Compton...at night...in a Hyundai.

Posted by: DL Sly at December 10, 2009 11:48 AM

Eh, biologically, I'm mostly, but not entirely, white (about a quarter of my ancestors were Indian, of the feather sort). And, even the white admixture is probably suspect in the eyes of KKK types, since some of my ancestors were Jewish. Some of my relatives are Mexican, some are partly black.

I've known some black women I could imagine myself marrying. But, I'll admit, the attraction was more along the lines of despite race (and certainly not because of it).

Posted by: Ilíon at December 10, 2009 11:58 AM

But Cassandra, he does have all the evidence he needs, if only he wanted to really find out.

1. He has the entire output of RSM's writings; both while he was a journalist with the MSM, and the entirety of RSM's blog.

2. He has access, as a respected member of the law blogging community, to lots of other bloggers both rightwing and leftwing, who may know RSM personally and professionally.

3. He has the 'personal' testimonies of those who *know* RSM and say he's not got a racist bone in his body.

Patterico's just being lazy. And defensive. Which he's accusing RSM of being. I like Patterico, and he's way off base on this one. The statements are not racist, McCain doesn't have to defend them or his stonewalling, obfuscating and downright lying if it ever came to that, and McCain is not a racist, as far as anyone knows. Patterico's out three for three.

Posted by: Gregory at December 10, 2009 11:59 AM

""By this definition, people of color cannot be racists,..."

The person who wrote this definition never spent any time as the only visible white person in Compton. Much less the only visible white person in Compton...at night...in a Hyundai.

Posted by: DL Sly at December 10, 2009 11:48 AM"

Ok, I can figure out how to get the vegetables out of my nose, but how in the heck am I going to clean Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup out of my keyboard?

Posted by: bthun at December 10, 2009 12:11 PM

But Cassandra, he does have all the evidence he needs, if only he wanted to really find out.

I didn't say the information wasn't out there, Greg. AND NEITHER DID PATTERICO. You are willfully misstating what he said.

What he said was that THAT ONE COMMENT isn't enough information to convict Stacy even if you put the worst construction on it.

And it isn't "lazy" or irresponsible not to want to read every single thing a professional journalist has ever written. You (and several others) are the ones saying Patrick accused him of being a racist.

Even though he explicitly and repeatedly said the exact opposite. Who cares what he said? You know what he *really* meant because you can read minds.

So by your argument, if Patrick fails to accuse Stacy of being a racist and (in fact) says: even if you believe that one comment was racially charged, THAT STILL WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH TO CONCLUDE THAT STACY IS A RACIST, Patrick now has a moral "duty" to read every single thing Stacy has ever written to absolve him of an accusation he never made?

Unbelievable.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 12:41 PM

And also unreasonable.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 12:42 PM

And what's really unbelievable is how seriously all of you are taking a frivolous accusation by the left.

Stop reacting. Stop being defensive. Once you play that game, they have gotten what they wanted. Move on to what YOU want to talk about and let the fools stew in their own irrelevant bile.

If someone makes an accusation, THEY HAVE TO PROVE IT. Nothing has been presented that rises to that level.

And Patterico has said that, repeatedly. You can continue to substitute what you think for what he said, but that's opinion, not evidence and thus no better than what the Left is trying to do to Stacy.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 12:52 PM

By the way, who's this "Pete" that you're talking about this for?

Posted by: MikeD at December 10, 2009 12:52 PM

Illion, I dated a black guy in high school for about 3 months.

I didn't date him because he was black. I dated him because when I got to know him, I found him to be intelligent, ambitious, sensitive without being emo - all the things I was looking for in a young man.

We came from similar backgrounds and families that value education. So we had a lot in common. That wasn't enough, as his friends did everything in their power to break us up.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 12:55 PM

"If someone makes an accusation, THEY HAVE TO PROVE IT."
How 'bout that! Most reasonable folk would assign the burden of proof to the accuser, not the other way round.

Then again, as we see every day, reasonable folk seem to be displacing the snail darter on that endangered list.

Posted by: bthun at December 10, 2009 12:59 PM

"...how in the heck am I going to clean Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup out of my keyboard?"

Whatever you do, don't use water....fish poop in that stuff, yanno.
0>;~}
I'd use beer. At least it's *clean*.

Posted by: DL Sly at December 10, 2009 02:00 PM

The right has bought into the idiocy that passes for smarts on the left. It's sad - we get beaten like rented mules and spend most of our time saying, "WE ARE NOT RACIST/SEXIST/HOMOPHOBIC/SELFISH!!!!"

Jeez. Why do we let them push our buttons? It's a distraction and it works every time. Just once - just once! - I'd like to see the right deal with the left like Condi Rice did - unapologetic, calm, polite, reasoned... and utterly remorseless when it comes to the refusal to be lured off message.

The answer is not to be rude or ugly or stoop to tactics we despise. The answer is to stop letting them set the agenda. Stop reacting and stay in control.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 02:07 PM

We all have feelings and they are "natural". Some of these feelings are laudable and some not so praiseworthy.

I think this is probably where the false inference comes from. So many people defend all sorts of "not so praiseworthy" actions on the basis that they are "natural". And when it is so common to see the formulation "natural" = "OK", people get in the habit of assuming that that is what you mean even if it isn't.

"A dog is a man's best fiend."

How many people will not notice that that last word isn't "friend" the first time they see it?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 10, 2009 02:12 PM

"Whatever you do, don't use water....fish poop in that stuff, yanno."
Yadon saaay...
*turns back to monitor and hits flask*
Paaatooee!

Who's the despicable so and so that put water in my water flask!

Posted by: W.C. Hun at December 10, 2009 02:12 PM

There's a COMMUNIST COUP D'ETAT occurring in this nation AS WE TYPE.

So, I don't give a shit.

Posted by: Uriel at December 10, 2009 02:22 PM

"... We came from similar backgrounds and families that value education. So we had a lot in common. That wasn't enough, as his friends did everything in their power to break us up."

In college, a young black woman I might eventually have had the nerve to ask out was "persuaded" by her sorority to not even talk to me -- she got a spirited public dressing down when when I said hello to her in the cafeteria.

Posted by: Ilíon at December 10, 2009 02:25 PM

And yet, when I traveled back to my old HS to go to Homecoming with my boyfriend and his friends were awful to me, his Mom came down on him like a ton of bricks.

Man, oh man. Do *not* make that woman angry :)

I think that was the only time a guy I dated didn't treat me well. And to his credit, he was ashamed of himself once he got away from his friends and realized what an ass he had been. That was one of the worst nights of my life. But although I broke up with him after that, we remained friends and corresponded for several years. He was a good guy and I wish him well.

We were very young and growing up is hard. I think this is one reason I don't judge too quickly when people of any color don't want to see mixed race couples. I don't think they should refuse to support such a couple b/c most relationships need help from family and friends at times.

But I do understand, because marriages are challenged enough these days without adding other peoples' baggage to the mix.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 02:35 PM

Uriel, you don't have to give a sh** :p

But people get tired of talking about politics 24/7. It's OK to write about gay polar bears and other trivia.

Posted by: George Bush Ate My Soul at December 10, 2009 02:39 PM

I have no doubt whatsoever that some people are uncomfortable seeing interracial couples. That's it? That's the horror of racism?

Get back to me when violence is committed against someone due to their race, gender, ethnicity, etc., and the law condones it.

Posted by: Allen at December 10, 2009 02:46 PM

"Get back to me when violence is committed against someone due to their race, gender, ethnicity, etc., and the law condones it.
Ya mean like, ahhh, say for instance, the DOJ were to fail to pursue an investigation of voter intimidation, i.e. veiled threats outside of a polling location...

Posted by: bthun at December 10, 2009 02:55 PM

Allen, when you stop and think about it, it's a good sign, no es verdad?

When racism stops being in your face and we are reduced to picking through the haystack hoping to find a needle so we can say we've been pricked, I'd call that progress. Not perfection, b/c that's not realistic.

But still, progress. This is the problem I have with the women's rights crowd. It's no longer enough that women have the means to defend themselves in court, or to obtain redress if they're wronged. Somehow the federal govt. is supposed to prevent wrongs from occurring in the first place?

Madness.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 03:03 PM

Uriel,

Hyperbolic much?

Chill dude, there's no Coup D'etat. We lost an election and the guy that won is doing stupid $hit. It happens.

Typically in some multiple of 4 years.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 10, 2009 03:28 PM

I remember being in Denver in 1991 for about 10 days surrounding a convention I was attending with some vacation time added on.

One thing that I happened to note when I was there was multiple mixed-race couples.

It wasn't "racism", as much as "stereotyping" -- my "standard image" of couples did not generally include race as a part of it. And that's not itself a bad thing, as long as you're capable of doing what I did -- recognizing the error and mentally "fixing" it. Mixed-race couples where then, in my experience, unusual. I don't recall actually experiencing any myself in person, so my built-up image did not include such.

Saying it's "wrong" for there to be mixed-race couples IS inherently racist, though, yeah. It is a matter of "purity" concepts which are patently stupid.

And I've never quite figured out how it is we got from being judged "by our character, not by the color of our skin" to this reverse-racist crap.

It's the shame of liberalism that it has turned its back so completely on what good ideals it once had, even in the midst of what it was inadvertently doing wrong.

It's the end result of PC and multiculti crap, though, that it starts biting itself in its big fat ass.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at December 10, 2009 04:05 PM

"Uriel,

Hyperbolic much?

Chill dude, there's no Coup D'etat. We lost an election and the guy that won is doing stupid $hit. It happens."

Translation: Lighten up, Francis!

Posted by: SFC. Hulka at December 10, 2009 04:06 PM

You all are reading way too much into this. Black women have traditionally been hyper-sensitive about successful black men dating or marrying white women. The implication being that black men will "trade up" from a black woman to a white woman when they gain sufficient money/power/fame, etc. to do so. While not universal, it does happen a lot, and has been a common topic for black comedians like Chris Rock and others.

Posted by: a former european at December 10, 2009 04:37 PM

Yes, afe, I understand that.

That's why I don't happen to think that sentiment is necessarily racist on its face. However, saying you won't vote for a man (black or white) who is in a mixed marriage???

Really??? Seems a bit bizarre.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2009 04:44 PM

I deeeeeeeeed!!!! I deeed tawt one!

Lighten up, Francis!

I love that line :p

Posted by: I Tawt I Taw a Coup D'Etat! at December 10, 2009 04:45 PM

Exactly Cassandra. This whole code word business gives me a laugh as well. Suppose people are using code words, what does that mean?

It means that they are afraid to openly say certain things. Which means the animus is now 180 degrees out from the past. Now the racist, or sexist has to worry, and I think that's a good thing.

You can never completely destroy isms, but society can make them extremely unfashionable.

Posted by: Allen at December 10, 2009 04:46 PM

If it's racist for the goose, it's racist for the gander.

An awkward twist on the old saying, but still true.

Posted by: Anonymala at December 10, 2009 05:36 PM

Seems to me that after MLK was assassinated the schools were beginning to embrace multi-culturalism and throwing out the "Melting Pot Theory". Instead of talking about race and victims I miss the days when we were talking about Americans and not breaking each other into discreet groups of a shared society.

I will say again that it doesn't matter who is in the foxhole with you as long as that person stays awake on watch and shoots straight.

But that is just the POV from a 'bitter, Bible thumping, gun loving, knuckle-dragger from flyover country.

Posted by: vet66 at December 10, 2009 06:11 PM

"Seems to me that after MLK was assassinated the schools were beginning to embrace multi-culturalism and throwing out the "Melting Pot Theory"."
1968. That was an tumultuous period of time in the history of our nation. Lots of turmoil at my high school afterwards. That whole decade was a political cluster fark. The assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK d@^^^ near tore the nation apart.

The memories of that time seem a bit more vivid than many others between then and now. Maybe that's why I'd rather focus on the opportunity that 326 days and a wake up will bring us, rather than give in to thoughts of changing the government through other means, such as some of the commenter's allude to on other sites.

If you want to talk about madness, consider a 100 or so million angry and/or frightened citizens, who happen to be well armed and capable to varying degrees. Yup, I think I'd much rather vote the rascals out than have to start shooting.

"Instead of talking about race and victims I miss the days when we were talking about Americans and not breaking each other into discreet groups of a shared society.

I will say again that it doesn't matter who is in the foxhole with you as long as that person stays awake on watch and shoots straight.

But that is just the POV from a 'bitter, Bible thumping, gun loving, knuckle-dragger from flyover country.

Vet, a toast to the extinction of hyphenated Americans! May we all resolve to be simply citizens of the U.S.A., Americans.

Well I can dream can't I? Yeah, I know, Walkin' Boss tells me that I'm still crazy too...

Posted by: bthun at December 10, 2009 07:15 PM

I suppose all the Tiger Woods commentary is interesting in a way, but isn't it an anti-racist point? "Men like blondes. Really, men do. Not 'white men like blondes, while black men like black women,' but, men like blondes."

Actually, I personally like brunettes and redheads a lot better than blondes, but I gather that's unusual.

As for the idea that people in general don't approve of interracial dating, I suspect that has more to do with competition than racism. Naturally, those who feel it is hard to find a mate want to rope off a section of the pool for their own exclusive hunting; those who find it easy to find a mate, meanwhile, would like the widest scope.

I'm not sure I could tell whether you were a racist from the fact that you expressed that sentiment, but I think I could tell a lot about how attractive a mate you thought you were.

Posted by: Grim at December 10, 2009 09:01 PM

"As for the idea that people in general don't approve of interracial dating, I suspect that has more to do with competition than racism."
Good point. I agree. Much the same conclusion can be reached when you listen to some boys/men talk about women who prefer other women.

It's a preoccupation of the male mind doncha know. =;^}

Posted by: bthun at December 10, 2009 09:24 PM

Cass

JeffG is NOT defending RSM. He is arguing language. Pat has said specifically he does NOT know IF RSM is a "racist" but most definitely that one quote IS "racist" regardless of context.

Now, that's quite the rhetorical trick of language because you cannot separate the statement from the utterer.

What Frey is doing when he says now that he doesn’t know if McCain is racist, is essentially admitting that he doesn’t know McCain’s intent; but in lieu of that, he’s privileged the fact that HE feels the statement is racist-sounding to him in order to declare the statement racist, while leaving the question of McCain’s culpability open.

In other words, Frey himself is supplying the intent — in that he intends to see the statement as racist, regardless of whether it was intended as such by McCain — and it is Frey’s intent to signify the marks in a certain way that provides the statement its “racist” component.

Linguistically speaking, you simply can’t have it both ways. Saying “the statement seems racist to me” and then attributing that racism to McCain (Frey says he’s on the fence about this) is odious — and is precisely the maneuver used by progressives to suggest that right wing speech is rife with hatred, even if that hatred is hidden in “code words,” and even if those engaging in said hate speech are unaware that they are doing so.Contemporary political discourse is one in which the left uses THEIR "interpretation" of the language of their ideological opponents against them. It gives them both the power to derail a discussion of ideas AND allows them to smear their opponent AND puts the opponent in the almost impossible position of trying to prove a negative (I am not a racist!).

This is the "niggardly" case all over again -- where the poor man was admonished that he "should have known better" how his word would appear to OTHERS regardless of his intent.

That insanity has to stop and it is no more acceptable when done by the right then by the left.

Posted by: Darleen at December 10, 2009 09:39 PM

whoops... I should have used preview...

the blockquote should end at "even if those engaging in said hate speech are unaware that they are doing so". MY writing begins again with "Contemporary political discourse".

Sorry for the confusion.

PIMF PIMF PIMF

Posted by: Darleen at December 10, 2009 09:42 PM

"Who's the despicable so and so that put water in my water flask!"

Whaddn't me, man. I figured you'd just use the tap I ran through the wall yesterday.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 10, 2009 10:02 PM

Cassandra: "Which is why I'm not upset by Patterico's statement that he doesn't have enough evidence to form a conclusion either way. He doesn't!"

Me: "But Cassandra, he does have all the evidence he needs, if only he wanted to really find out."

Cassandra: "I didn't say the information wasn't out there, Greg. AND NEITHER DID PATTERICO. You are willfully misstating what he said."

Ahem. Please reconcile your statements.

Patterico cared enough to do some digging into these two quotes, and he couldn't care enough to see if the rest (or even a hastily-assembled random selection) of RSM's output matched a so-called 'racially prejudiced' outlook? Some fact-checking and evidence-gathering there by a DA, Francis.

And *I'm* the one 'willfully misstating'? This phrase you are using, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Oh, good, Patterico doesn't say/think RSM's a racist. Well, Patterico doesn't say/think he's *not* a racist either - or at least he won't commit himself either way. So, what the hell does Patterico say/think? Bugger all, from what I can tell if I were to just read this segment of his blog.

"Oh, Ah'm not sayin' he's a racist, and Ah'm not sayin' he ain't, neither, but it shore is int'restin', that racist statement RSM's done and said 13 years ago, innit?"

Yeah. *You* tell me I'm misinterpreting Patterico's words.

In any event, RSM has gone and exhaustively explained himself now. We'll just have to wait and see what happens, won't we?

Posted by: Gregory at December 10, 2009 10:05 PM

DL Sly: A quote someone from the 70s and 80s might recall;

"Who put gasoline in my gasoline?!"

Posted by: Gregory at December 10, 2009 10:07 PM

"DL Sly: A quote someone from the 70s and 80s might recall;

"Who put gasoline in my gasoline?!""

Actually Gregory, the origin of the premise predates the 70's. Legend has it that W.C. Fields once suffered the indignity of drinking Pineapple Juice.
"The American actor W.C. Fields (1879 - 1946) often kept a thermos with him on film sets which he claimed was filled with Pineapple Juice. When someone actually swapped the contents (which was alcohol) with Pineapple Juice, he shouted ""Somebody put Pineapple Juice in my Pineapple Juice!""
Oh, the humanity...

Posted by: W.C. Hun at December 10, 2009 10:25 PM

"Whaddn't me, man. I figured you'd just use the tap I ran through the wall yesterday. 0>;~}"
As soon as you provided that tap, spd threw me out of the penalty box!

Thanks anyway DL!

Posted by: bthun at December 10, 2009 10:41 PM

"*Pssst... Spd, ask M'lady if we can get out of the penalty box now. The pizza and beer supply is getting real low.*
Posted by: bthun at December 9, 2009 03:08 PM"

"As soon as you provided that tap, spd threw me out of the penalty box!"

Aaaannndddd, you say that like it's a *bad* thing....Why?

Posted by: DL Sly at December 11, 2009 12:59 AM

Bottom line? We're all the same species, which is why we can interbreed...and on a genetic (as in DNA) level, we are all descended from African ancestors. There are undoubtedly some cultural differences, but in the end, people are people...

Posted by: camojack at December 11, 2009 03:46 AM

"Patterico's just being lazy."

I'm in trial, dumbass. I'm working three times as hard as you, so shut the hell up.

Posted by: Patterico at December 11, 2009 04:41 AM

Actually, I personally like brunettes and redheads a lot better than blondes, but I gather that's unusual.

Too funny.

My husband and I were having a conversation years and years ago about the question, "Which movie stars do you find attractive?"

I suspect most guys consider this a loaded question likely to get them into hot water with the Little Woman, but the ways of the N. American Husband are wily beyond belief and in this case his response soothed the savage beast within.

IOW, I was kind of pleased that all the stars he named were brunettes :p

Smart man, the Unit.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 07:57 AM

Patterico cared enough to do some digging into these two quotes, and he couldn't care enough to see if the rest (or even a hastily-assembled random selection) of RSM's output matched a so-called 'racially prejudiced' outlook? Some fact-checking and evidence-gathering there by a DA, Francis.

Gregory, this is just bizarre.

The RSM quote in question happens to be the one quote liberals have repeatedly brought up to "prove" Stacy is a dirty, rotten racist.

So it makes total sense to ask, first of all:

1. Did he really say it? (the evidence here was conflicting), and

2. If he really did say it, was the statement really racist?, and finally

3. Even if you conclude that statement was racially charged, does that "prove" Stacy is a racist?

Honestly, I don't know what you people are so afraid of.

Stop getting your knickers all in a twist about essentially frivolous accusations of racism. I have spent more pixels than I need to pointing out the utter idiocy of taking these people seriously.

Patterico DID NOT ACCUSE STACY OF RACISM. Therefore, he has no duty to "absolve" him of an accusation he never made.

No matter how many times you substitute your opinion for what he said, his actual words are on the record. Now if you are calling Patterico a liar (and it seems you are) then come out and say it straight up.

If not, his actual words are all the refutation that is needed. And there is no "reconciliation" needed between those two statements because there's no conflict between them. You are imposing a duty to clear up an accusation Patterico never made upon him.

This so-called duty is based on your fear that someone will think Stacy really IS a racist unless someone DOES something. But Patterico has no duty to allay your fear and neither do I. In fact, I've pointed out - several times - that there is no rational basis for this fear.

I don't understand why you and others seem to be so worried, but that's something I can't control.

And you know what? YOU CAN'T CONTROL WHAT OTHERS THINK, EITHER. So defending Stacy endlessly against the accusations of idiots who have never presented enough evidence to convince a cockroach is a fool's errand.

Stop being afraid. It only makes it look like we have something to hide, and we don't.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 08:08 AM

Patterico doesn't say/think RSM's a racist. Well, Patterico doesn't say/think he's *not* a racist either - or at least he won't commit himself either way. So, what the hell does Patterico say/think?

Christ almighty, who the hell cares what Patterico thinks?

You all really need to get a grip, here. Say it with me three times: opinions are not facts.

Opinions are not evidence. Stop jumping at shadows.

Finally, if one single quote is considered "proof" on the left the Stacy is a racist, then to refute that so-called "proof" one would have to read every single thing Stacy ever wrote to make sure there wasn't just one other suspicious quote lurking out there.

And that's insane. That's why the Left throws out these kinds of attacks - they're impossible to defend against. It's comparable to harassment by FOIA request - you force your opponent to produce copious amounts of "proof" that you're not guilty instead of doing the rational thing and saying, "If you think I'm guilty, PROVE IT. It's your burden."

Patterico DID NOT ACCUSE STACY OF RACISM. But you - bizarrely - are saying that by not absolving Stacy, Patterico accuses him. Oh, and if he's not willing to absolve him, he can't even discuss the topic! Nice. That's a tactic worthy of the Left. If we've gotten so needy and fearful that we have to rule entire topics off limits, we really are sunk. We've become just like the Left.

Illogical and unconvincing.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 08:17 AM

Darleen:

I have to be honest here. I really appreciate your lucid explanation of Jeff's argument. But I really don't care about linguistics and never have.

To me, this argument is utterly irrelevant. And more importantly, it misses the point. Please go over to Patterico's and read the latest post with the comment by Beldar.

He makes, in a different way, exactly the same point I've been trying to make here: that there probably isn't a person alive who hasn't had what I'd like to call "bad thoughts". Focusing on words here (and even more weirdly, subjective intent) falls neatly into the trap the Left keep setting with their stupid "code words" argument.

The basis for that argument is simple: "I'm going to ignore the literal or plain meaning of what you just said, and instead substitute my subjective opinion of what you *really* meant". By arbitrarily redefining selected words of yours to mean what I want them to mean, I can twist what you said to fit my script and use this altered "transcript" of your remarks to convict you out of your own mouth."

But this is crap. As I've pointed out, none of us really knows what is in another's heart.

And language is anything but precise.

The operating premise of the Left is that they can decode the hidden meaning and hidden racism in what someone has said. And I'm saying, "So what?"

Even if you were able to "see" racial animus in a single remark, SO WHAT? It proves nothing.

Now if Stacy had come out and said, "It is my fervent belief that Blacks are intellectually and morally inferior to whites so naturally no sane white person wants another white person to breed with them. Moreover, the federal gubmint ought to prevent such abominations from occurring in the first place.", that - by any objective standard one wants to name, would have been racist.

We wouldn't need to decode or deconstruct or infer intent: we'd have his actual words. But Stacy didn't say anything close to that, so his oppoenent are stuck with saying, "How dare you be insufficiently uncomfortable with that which discomfits us! You must be a raaaaaacist!"

The Left can't find an actual racist statement by Stacy, so they've found one that makes people uncomfortable precisely because we're so squeamish about race. They use our internalization of "racism is bad" to imply that if Stacy fails to denounce ideas that make us uncomfortable, he must secretly approve of them! We all know there are Secret Approvers lurking in our midst, and some of them have blogs! Secret Approvers are notoriously apt to be clandestine KKK members. Frequently they progress from Secretly Approving to burning crosses and lynching blacks - in this sense Secret Approval is like a gateway drug. The only thing stopping these secretly approving racists is our staunch determination to Denounce Them With The Utmost Fervor. If we just do that loudly enough, racism will disappear from the earth and unicorns will sprinkle magical fairy dust upon us all.

*rolling eyes*

In the same way, several people on the right have taken Patterico's question, which makes them uncomfortable, and twisted it to imply that Patterico is accusing Stacy even though he plainly stated he was not.

I find all the talk of intent unconvincing. But worse, when you veer off of what someone actually said and start trying to tell them what they REALLY said, you are validating the same method of attack the Left uses. As Jeff would say, you privilege your interpretation over their actual words.

There's a common sense answer to all of this, if we only had the courage to use it, and it's simple: "Are you accusing me of racism? OK. Prove it."

And,

"You have the transcript of what I actually said. If you are accusing me of saying one thing but secretly meaning another, you are accusing me of lying. Again, prove your accusation or take it back."

The irony here is that people on the right are telling Patterico that his actual words don't matter because [wink wink, nudge nudge] "WE ALL KNOW WHAT HE REALLY MEANT BY THAT." And all of this is - apparently - some bizarre attempt to control the terms of the debate by employing exactly the same tactics the Left employs?

Hey, whatever works ;p

The sad thing is that you don't need linguistics to rebut the Left's silly and unsubstantiated race card throwing. Just the courage of your convictions and common sense.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 08:38 AM

"I have spent more pixels than I need to pointing out the utter idiocy of taking these people seriously."
Maybe so, but Lowered help me, I do enjoy smack downs. Thanks M'lady.
"You all really need to get a grip, here. Say it with me three times: opinions are not facts.

Opinions are not evidence. Stop jumping at shadows."

Maybe we could put this to rest by taking a... ah... I know! A poll! </sarc> =>8^}

Posted by: The Shadow at December 11, 2009 08:39 AM

FWIW, my "who cares what Patterico thinks" wasn't meant in a bad way.

I do care (deeply ;p) what he thinks. I just think that his opinion is utterly irrelevant to the burning question in some people's minds: Is Stacy a racist?

That's like saying, "Is Britney Spears an attention rapist?"

If someone wants to provide actual evidence that she has intentionally hijacked the attention spans of countless helpless Americans, that's one thing. But merely saying "I think she's a shameless attention rapist" isn't proof.

And in the end I really don't care what we can infer about her subjective intent from her words. Ordinary Americans don't have linguistics degrees and we don't think that way.

The crux of this matter is the appeal such a dumb argument has to ordinary Americans, not professors of linguistics. I'm not really worried about whether the relatively small linguistics academy thinks Stacy is a racist or Patterico a wily sayer-of-one-thing-but-meaner-of-something-entirely-different-and-sinister :p

It makes more sense to combat a tactic aimed at convincing ordinary Americans using arguments likely to convince ordinary Americans (or at least the ones who are susceptible to reason or evidence); not abstruse, though undoubtedly interesting, academic theories about linguistic intent.

I'm not saying Jeff's points might not have merit on some plane unconnected to the daily lives of folks who neither know nor care about linguistics.

I'm saying it's an interesting conversation but not the one I think matters.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 09:38 AM

"We all know there are Secret Approvers lurking in our midst...."

Are they in charge of double secret probation, too?

Posted by: DL Sly at December 11, 2009 11:36 AM

SECRET APPROVER!!!!

I see how you are!

Posted by: Righteous Denouncer Person at December 11, 2009 11:58 AM

Where de white wimmin at?

Posted by: a former european at December 11, 2009 12:49 PM

Ahhh... That took longer than I expected.

Posted by: Reverend Johnson at December 11, 2009 01:03 PM

Drats! Sent my best shadow out to the dry cleaners, all for naught.

Oh well, I suppose the reality is that having a Shadow Approver snarking does not have quite the same caché as having Secret Approvers lurking.

*The Shadow slinks back to his dark and stormy abode in order to resume the identity of The duc Knot de Nouncer,
Royal Vassal to the Chunker of Arachis hypogaea towards Progressive Stalking Horse -Code Words ala BabblefishЯUs-
&
The Grand Inquisitor of the AGW Climate Carbon Creditors for Social Injustice of The Order of The Buckshot Metatarsal*

Posted by: The Shadow at December 11, 2009 01:05 PM

"...resume the identity of The duc Knot de Nouncer, Royal Vassal to the Chunker of Arachis hypogaea towards Progressive Stalking Horse -Code Words ala BabblefishЯUs- & The Grand Inquisitor of the AGW Climate Carbon Creditors for Social Injustice of The Order of The Buckshot Metatarsal*"

Damn, that's quite a mouthful. I've always heard that more than a mouthful is a waste.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 11, 2009 02:26 PM

*coughs*
Harrump!
*desperately hopes the press secretary fields that last question*

Posted by: Governor William J. LePetomane at December 11, 2009 03:09 PM

[Jeff's] argument makes very little sense when you examine it closely.

Here's Jeff's argument in a nutshell: there are racist-sounding comments and actual racist comments.

Once you figure out the difference between the two, you've got Jeff's argument.

Posted by: dicentra at December 11, 2009 10:12 PM

From a public relations point of view, not a Win. For nobody really.

Racism is bad.

Don't say racisms, especially not out loud.

But if you do say racisms you better mean it cause otherwise you're just wasting everybody's time.

Posted by: happyfeet at December 11, 2009 10:22 PM

Once again, I don't think you've gotten anywhere close to my actual argument, which has nothing really to do with Stacy McCain or even racism, and everything to do with intent, meaning, and what it means to interpret.

Which I suppose is how you wind up at proclamations like "This argument makes very little sense when you examine it closely," even after you've shown that you'd done no such thing.

My point is that it makes no sense to call a statement racist that hasn't proceeded from racism. So if you call a statement racist, you are calling its utterer racist. If McCain, in the context he was making the argument you quote, had no racist intent, the statement can't be racist. Simple as that.

The counter to that, which we've heard today, is that there's such a thing as "unintentional racism." Which as I've pointed out is just a less narcissistic way of saying, "racist-sounding to me."

The thing is, interpretation requires that you appeal to the intent of the speaker / writer. Otherwise, you'll be appealing to your own intent to signify. And if you do so -- in the process, creating your own new text -- and then ascribe that text of yours to the speaker, you have essentially condemned by attributing a message to him that you created.

The fact that you find the linguistics here "irrelevant" is frightening, given that language is what makes up the structure of our thinking. If the epistemology you follow uses linguistics in such a way that it gives power over meaning to the receiver of messages, you will inevitably end up in a place where meaning is determined by the most powerful interpretive communities -- which is why identity politics is so powerful, so dangerous, and at base, entirely totalitarian.

Don't link a linguistic argument you don't understand, or don't care to understand, note that it "makes very little sense if you examine it closely," then admit later in the very same thread that you don't much care about linguistics.

I've dealt with Beldar's argument; and it turns out Beldar is using the term "racist" to encompass things that are most decidedly not.

Posted by: Jeff G at December 11, 2009 10:22 PM

I see zero evidence that Patrick called Stacy a racist.
That's precisely what he did the moment he called Stacy's statement racist -- then added that he could envision no context in which it wouldn't be.

You may wish to ignore how and why this is -- after all, it delves into the structure of how we think, which is all theoretical and junk, and so irrelevant -- but I can assure you that doing so is a very bad move, as the takeover of nearly all our institutions by what amounts to progressive thinking should make abundantly clear.

Posted by: Jeff G at December 11, 2009 10:25 PM

Here's how you can make racist-sounding statements without being racist:

1. You’re learning English. You say to a young black man, “Boy, what time is it?” because in your language it’s acceptable to use the term “muchacho” to refer to a young man.

2. You’re my mother and you refer to the Chinese as “Oriental.” Or you’re my grandmother and you talk about “Negros.”

3. You’re Bill Bennett and you mention the “freakonomic” that increased abortions reduce crime. You state in the same paragraph that it would be abhorrent to use abortion as a method to reduce crime, even supposing the freakonomic were true.

4. You’re arguing with a bunch of morons on usenet on a very narrow subject wherein you’re splitting hairs about this or that. You say something that sounds racist to the casual observer. You’re making an entirely different point.

5. You’re sitting in the break room quietly reading a book about how a university took on and defeated the KKK. A black woman sees the illustration KKK robes on the book’s cover and insists that she’s being racially harassed.

6. You’re watching a raccoon help itself to a neighbor’s garbage can. A black man walks by the can without knowing that the raccoon is there. The movement and the glowing eyes startle him, he shouts and runs away, and that startles the raccoon, who speeds off. You say, “wow, look at that coon go!” You’re referring to the animal. It’s too dark for you to see the skin color of the man.

7. You’re reading Mark Twain aloud to your kids.

Now imagine that someone decides that because these statements SOUND racist, it's the same as these statements BEING racist.

And they make YOU apologize for THEIR misunderstanding, in public, where all nod their heads in approbation.

Is this a good thing? Does it not have a chilling effect on speech? Does it not mean that it's not enough to not harbor racist thoughts in your heart, now you've got to mince through a minefield that People In Power have set up to entrap you?

Again I ask: Is this a good thing?

Posted by: dicentra at December 11, 2009 11:12 PM

Jeff, it's pretty obvious from your comments that you don't really understand my argument :p

But that's OK, because you'll undoubtedly try to tell me what I said. Or what I meant. Or what I think.

... it makes no sense to call a statement racist that hasn't proceeded from racism. So if you call a statement racist, you are calling its utterer racist.

Is that true because it happens to be your opinion? Or is that part of linguistic theory?

I don't agree. People make broad brush, categorical statements all the time that attribute character or behavioral traits to race. I believe (though I could be wrong) that this is the kind of thing Beldar was talking about.

I get cut off by a man in traffic and I think, "Typical male driver". Except women do that too and I know it. I'm just annoyed, and in my temporary annoyance I say something that I know isn't true and that I don't really believe. People are illogical that way sometimes.

It was a sexist statement, but I'm not A sexist for having a momentary thought because I don't think like that all the time and I don't discriminate against men in my behavior.

It was just a thought - not representative of my general outlook about men.

So I don't agree with you. A statement could be racist (though I never agreed that Stacy's statement was - I think it was just uncomfortably honest) and yet the speaker might not be A racist.

Sorry, but I think you're overcomplicating the issue and I'm not convinced that you are the authority on "how we think" or how I think.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 11:17 PM

dicentra:

If you read my post, you'll know that none of the things you brought up are something I'd call racist and I argued that calling the speaker a racist was stupid. So I'm really not sure who you're trying to convince, but you're preaching to the choir.

And they make YOU apologize for THEIR misunderstanding, in public, where all nod their heads in approbation.

Since I specifically argued that people should STOP apologizing for things they don't agree are racist, who are you arguing with?

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 11:19 PM

Hi Cass

To me, this argument is utterly irrelevant

I'm sorry, but you are then missing the debate entirely. While you rail at the Left and code words that is exactly what JeffG and dicentra and everyone else that "gets" intention belongs with the author/utterer are fighting.

When that guy used the word "niggardly" in a letter, what it a "racist" statement? If you understand the intention argument, then no, of course not. If you buy into Patrick's argument, yes, it is racist because it SOUNDS racist and people MIGHT be offended regardless of context and the guy had better explain himself, defend himself and still Patrick, et al, will finally concede while the statement is racist, they'll give a pass to the guy BUT DON'T EVER DO IT AGAIN.

See how that works, Cass?

Posted by: Darleen at December 11, 2009 11:30 PM

Jeff: interpretation requires that you appeal to the intent of the speaker / writer. Otherwise, you'll be appealing to your own intent to signify. And if you do so -- in the process, creating your own new text -- and then ascribe that text of yours to the speaker, you have essentially condemned by attributing a message to him that you created.


Me:

Focusing on words here (and even more weirdly, subjective intent) falls neatly into the trap the Left keep setting with their stupid "code words" argument. The basis for that argument is simple: "I'm going to ignore the literal or plain meaning of what you just said, and instead substitute my subjective opinion of what you *really* meant". By arbitrarily redefining selected words of yours to mean what I want them to mean, I can twist what you said to fit my script and use this altered "transcript" of your remarks to convict you out of your own mouth."

*sigh*

I made an argument that you haven't addressed, Jeff. I said it makes no sense to say that believing a statement is racist statement is the same thing as believing the speaker is racist. From your excerpt:

If you believe the statement is racist, you believe that it was uttered with racist intent.

My argument, since you seem not to understand it, is that there's profound difference between our feelings and our outward behavior. I used the example of a man who fantasizes about violating his marriage vows (i.e., he has adulterous thoughts). Maybe he even says something that makes him sound as though he approves of cheating.

But he never cheats on his wife and never would. He is not a cheater just because he is tempted to cheat. The test of what kind of man he is is his ACTIONS, not his words.

And that's why the constant cries of 'racism' ought to be met with "prove it".

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 11:35 PM

Darleen, I get it.

And I've said that I don't agree with all of Patrick's arguments, so why are you both attributing them to me?

If you want me to discuss WHAT I WROTE, fine. But none of this has anything to do with MY arguments. If you all want to argue with Patterico, please do so.

If you want to address what I wrote, this is the right place.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 11:37 PM

I'm sorry, but you are then missing the debate entirely.

No, I'm making my own argument. I believe I'm allowed to do that on my own site :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 11:40 PM

But that's OK, because you'll undoubtedly try to tell me what I said. Or what I meant. Or what I think.

Please don't do that. That's not what intentionalism means.

Is that true because it happens to be your opinion? Or is that part of linguistic theory?

Which linguistic theory? There are myriad. One would hold that the author (speaker) is dead and that the listener/reader holds all the cards.

Jeff promotes intentionalism, which is ONE linguistic theory among many. It has the additional advantage of being true.

So I'm really not sure who you're trying to convince

Any of the readers of your thread who still don't get it.

People make broad brush, categorical statements all the time that attribute character or behavioral traits to race.

Here, you are making a semantic argument, wherein you seek to define what "racist" means. It is not an argument about how language works, and therefore doesn't refute what Jeff is arguing.

This is the crux of Jeff's argument: Where is the locus of meaning in an utterance?

Let's go back to my first example:

"Luz Marina is learning English. She says to a young black man, 'Boy, what time is it?' because in her language it’s acceptable to use the term 'muchacho' to refer to a young man."

What Luz Marina said sounds racist, right?

But it isn't because there was no racist intent driving her words. None. Just ignorance at the subtleties of American culture and language.

The fact that the young man (or any "reasonable person") thought it sounded racist doesn't make her statement racist, just racist sounding

If you say that her statement was racist but she isn't, you're saying either that there's something about that combination of sounds that mysteriously "contains" racism regardless of any other factor, or that the reaction of the listener is what imbues a comment with racism.

This is the linguistic argument.

Other arguments found on this thread, such as whether this or that attitude is racist, is in an entirely different conceptual sphere.

That's why it seemed strange to bring in Jeff's argument and then said it made little sense. Well, if you're trying to establish what the definition of "racism" is, then yes, his argument makes little sense.

Because it's not addressing the questions you're asking. Not because it's a bad argument.

Posted by: dicentra at December 11, 2009 11:48 PM

Aye chihuahua, dicentra :)

I wouldn't call that statement racist so that example doesn't address my argument.

That's exactly what I was trying to do: say that a statement could be racist (in the sense that it was entirely motivated by the human tendency to paint with the broad brush) without that proving the speaker is A racist (a person who truly believes skin color determines behavior, moral twerpitude - that's a joke - or intelligence).

People aren't 100% logical or consistent. We are emotional creatures, but fortunately most of us subliminate our instincts to our values.

Or at least that's the hope. So we might harbor racist feelings or even express racist sentiments in one of those moments when emotion overrides our better natures.

But I emphatically don't agree that a momentary lapse or a misinterpretation wipes out the fact that a person follows a different set of values 99% of the time. The part of Jeff's argument that makes no sense to me and that I sought to refute is the notion that if you call a statement racist, you are calling the speaker racist because people can and do say things that aren't representative of the way they act.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 11, 2009 11:58 PM

I said it makes no sense to say that believing a statement is racist statement is the same thing as believing the speaker is racist.

Again, you're splitting a different hair than Jeff is. Jeff points out that a statement can't be racist unless there is racist intent behind it. He makes no attempt to say whether the speaker IS a racist.

In other words, there's no attempt to define what "is" is.

You, on the other hand, are distinguishing between a person's core values and a person's momentary lapses into lesser emotions and urges.

So saying that someone IS a racist means that the person is, at his core, someone who hates people of a different race, all the time, unlike someone who doesn't like racism but might on some occasion feel a racist twinge and verbalize it.

The arguments seem to be on the same plane because racism is mentioned, but bringing intentionalism into an argument about semantics is a category error.

Posted by: dicentra at December 11, 2009 11:59 PM

And finally, that's why I'm saying why I don't "care" about linguistics, and to me linguistics is beside the point in this particular case.

I didn't say it has no value.

I just said I think other considerations are more important.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 12:01 AM

I wouldn't call that statement racist

Would you agree that it's racist-sounding?

The part of Jeff's argument that makes no sense to me and that I sought to refute is the notion that if you call a statement racist you are calling the speaker racist

Jeff in this case is directly refuting Patterico's assertion that Pat called RSM's statement racist but didn't say RSM himself was a racist.

Again, a very fine hair to split: If Pat is asserting that RSM can make a racist statement but not have a racist bone in his body, then he's saying that the racism (locus of meaning) in a statement is contained in the listener's reaction to the statement and not in the speaker's intent.

Given the fact that intentionalism is Jeff's bailiwick, that's the only argument he could make in this instance.

Posted by: dicentra at December 12, 2009 12:05 AM

I just said I think other considerations are more important.

They're certainly easier to understand and articulate. :D

Posted by: dicentra at December 12, 2009 12:07 AM

I agree we're splitting hairs here!

a statement can't be racist unless there is racist intent behind it.

At the moment I am cussing at that male driver, I fully "intend" to convey the message that men are awful, aggressive drivers. I even believe it... at that moment.

And then I return to my senses.

So... was my statement "sexist"? Certainly it was motivated by a temporary feeling that aggressive driving is a uniquely male trait and women (of course) are vastly superior beings b/c we don't get into pissing contests at 80 mph.

We're far too busy putting on mascara.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 12:11 AM

What Luz Marina said sounds racist, right?

Not to me. It might to someone who was more sensitive to the merest hint of racial animus. I certainly wouldn't call her a racist for something that silly.

Jeff in this case is directly refuting Patterico's assertion that Pat called RSM's statement racist but didn't say RSM himself was a racist.

And I'm saying that even though I never agreed that RSM statement was racist, it's quite possible to say a statement IS racist without believing the speaker to BE a racist. And I've tried to provide several examples of how that might be a valid conclusion.

Again, I don't agree - and have never agreed - that RSM's statement was racist. My argument is that even if one thinks it is, that doesn't prove anything because (unlike Jeff) I think a person can say racist things without being a racist.


Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 12:19 AM

So... was my statement "sexist"?

Yes. That one right there was.

And then I return to my senses.

Girlfriend, when you was a cussin' that's when you were in your right mind. No wonder we're arguing in circles!

Posted by: dicentra at December 12, 2009 12:20 AM

:)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 12:25 AM

I've always heard that more than a mouthful is a waste.

No, it's merely *superfluous*.

Temporarily...

Posted by: BillT at December 12, 2009 03:42 AM

"I've always heard that more than a mouthful is a waste.

No, it's merely *superfluous*.

Temporarily...

Posted by: BillT at December 12, 2009 03:42 AM"

Dang Bill,

I was hoping that you would speak to the turbulence and G-force loading of any particular maneuver that could affect such a determination. Not to mention, the oxygen levels and pressures -both absolute and vapor, relative humidity, and whether or not the auto-pilot was disengaged.

*ducks and hobbles off in the direction of the garage*

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 12, 2009 06:01 PM

*grin* :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 08:14 PM

"I was hoping that you would speak to the turbulence and G-force loading of any particular maneuver that could affect such a determination. Not to mention, the oxygen levels and pressures -both absolute and vapor, relative humidity, and whether or not the auto-pilot was disengaged."

You forgot the safety equipment.
Jus' sayin'....
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 12, 2009 08:53 PM

"You forgot the safety equipment. Jus' sayin'...."
Flares? First Aid? Splits?

If the air crew has been practicing their maneuvers together, exclusively, and for a long time, who needs safety equipment?

Ok, maybe a foam response unit and extra oxygen... =8^}

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 12, 2009 09:30 PM

"You forgot the safety equipment. Jus' sayin'...."

Flares? First Aid? Splits?

Supplementary oxygen supply.

With earcups...

Posted by: BillT at December 13, 2009 01:36 AM

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