« Quotes of the Day | Main | Obama Rejects "Failed History" of Past Two Centuries »

December 14, 2009

"You Lie!"

This is probably a very big mistake, but I'm going to take one final whack at Patterico/Jeff G. thing.

Attila and I disagree about this whole thing, and yet we're still talking to each other. She thinks Jeff G. is mostly right and Patterico mostly wrong. I think Patterico is mostly right and Jeff G. is mostly wrong. I also agree with aspects of both their arguments.

I realize it's become highly unfashionable to disagree with another blogger without calling him an ignorant cretin or a mean spirited poopy head, but that's just too bad. I'm not willing to roast Jeff G. over a bed of hot coals simply because I think he's wrong. And though I believe very strongly that Attila is not just wrong, but really, really wrong about Patterico's motivation (which I believe she has no way of knowing), that's her opinion and she's entitled to it. Not worth ruining a perfectly good friendship over.

This is not all that complicated, really.

Jeff G. has said right in the comments section here at VC that it "doesn't make sense" to call a statement racist unless you also believe the speaker is/was racist. And if that's all he'd said, I wouldn't have bothered to take issue with his reasoning. I can see both sides on that one, though I don't agree. It is what he said next that really bothered me.

I don't have to rephrase or interpret what he said to make my point. I can refer to Jeff's exact words, from a comment on this post:

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.

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

"If you call a statement racist, you are calling its utterer racist." Not a lot of wiggle room - actually, not any - is there? There are two problems with this statement. The first objection is supplied by Jeff himself:

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.

What was Patterico's "text" here? Did he call RSM a racist? Did he say that only racists say racist things?

No. He said he doesn't accept the premise that a racist statement can only be uttered by a racist speaker. Now unless you're willing to come right out and call Patterico a liar, it seems to me that Patterico has told us how his comments should be interpreted.

But regardless of Jeff's position that interpretation requires us to look to the speaker's intent, we have been engaged in a multi-day, multi-post argument over just that - how to interpret Patterico's words.

So let's play along. Should we use Jeff's belief that a racist statement can only be uttered by a racist speaker to decipher Patterico's intent? Logically it seems we should not, because Patterico has already told us that he doesn't agree with this statement. Again, unless we're willing to do the "ballsy" thing and call Patterico a liar, what rational basis do we have for imputing to him reasoning he has explicitly rejected?

But there's another argument to be made here. Jeff himself argues that we should we should appeal to the intent of the speaker: Patterico. So by Jeff's argument, Jeff may not replace Patterico's reasoning with his own no matter how tempting this may seem or how badly he wants to win the argument.

Jeff can certainly argue that Patterico's statement doesn't make sense to him logically. He can say Patterico's use of the word "racist" is incorrect or that his statement was poorly worded (the "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means" tack)

He can argue that Patterico's words were likely to be misunderstood by reasonable hearers, though that sounds uncomfortably like Patterico's position (one, I might add, that Jeff has firmly rejected) :p

But Jeff is not allowed - by his own rules - to substitute his opinion of what Patterico intended for Patterico's real opinion (which we don't have to guess at because he's told us - repeatedly. Unless of course we want to call him a liar.). Yet both Jeff and many of his defenders have done exactly that - superimposed their interpretation over Patterico's argument. They "saw" an attack in Patterico's post and their position seems to be, "I don't care what you said. This is what I think you meant by that."

The irony here is palpable.

Jeff could simply have argued that Patterico's statements don't make sense to him. But he didn't do that. He came right out and said - repeatedly - that Patterico called Stacy a racist.

Except Patterico not only didn't say that, but said he doesn't think a single racist statement is sufficient grounds for an accusation of racism. Think about this for a moment: if Patterico HAD called Stacy a racist just on the basis of that one statement, he would have been contradicting himself by turning right around and saying, "One statement is insufficient evidence for calling someone a racist." Regardless of this obvious contradicition, Jeff and others proceeded to interpret Patterico's words to mean the opposite of what he said they meant.

Again, let's play along. What is the rational or evidentiary basis for such an interpretation? Certainly it's not Patterico's statement that you don't have to be a racist to utter a racist statement. Their suspicions aren't grounded in Patterico's words or even his arguments, but in their own feelings and reasoning about his words and his arguments. People do that all the time. But that's pretty ironic wen it's Jeff who argued the listener/reader's intent shouldn't be privileged over the speaker's intent. This begs the question: how can Jeff say he knows what Patterico really meant or said, especially when Jeff insists on his right to 'draw reasonable conclusions' and then use them to recharacterize what Patterico said:

Leaving aside the hamfisted and remarkably childish attempt to convict me by way of some ridiculous appeal to literalism, the fact of the matter is, during debates, your opponent will often draw what he feels to be quite reasonable conclusions from your positions, and then restate them in a way he finds useful and persuasive with respect to his own argument.

Interestingly, Joy has made exactly the same argument: in essence, "I see an attack", or "I can't point to anything specific, but it kinda sorta seems to me like a veiled attack. Therefore I am disregarding Patterico's explanation and going with my gut".

Why is Jeff G. allowed to restate his opponents' words "in a way he finds useful and persuasive with respect to his own argument", but when the Left or throwers of the race card claim the same privilege, he cries foul? Is this just another case of "It's right when I do it but wrong when they do it"? What bothers me so much here is that the very folks who claim to oppose expedient recharacterization are engaging in it themselves. But neither side should get to do that.

No one has the right to demand that his opponents accept his framing of their own words, especially when he openly admits he's doing it to "prove" a position they didn't agree with in the first place.

Jeff can argue that Patterico's position is logically inconsistent.

He can make the case that Patterico's statements were liable to be misunderstood.

He can argue that a reasonable person would see his discussion of RSM's quote as a veiled attack (Though the quote has been a topic of many posts for some time now. So it's hardly some deep dark secret, the revelation of which can be expected to act as a bombshell. Nonetheless, several righty bloggers have taken the position that any examination of the topic amounts to unacceptable straying from the conservative reservation).

What Jeff G. cannot argue without contradicting himself is that Patterico intended to accuse Stacy of racism despite his repeated and explicit statements to the contrary. This isn't my formulation. These are Jeff's rules of interpretation in his own words:

...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

But Jeff has not followed his own rules. He has created his own text and ascribed it to Patterico in order to accuse him of secretly saying something he has explicitly stated he does not believe.

Essentially, he and others have called Patterico a liar, citing their own feelings or opinions as pretext. They just haven't come out and said that openly.

Patterico isn't the only one who believes one can utter a racist or racially motivated statement without being a racist (or even a racist at the time). Beldar doesn't strike me as an irrational or unreasonable blogger, much less a liar. One can disagree with him on the merits, but his arguments are generally careful and well developed.

And I'm not an irrational or unreasonable blogger. Nor am I stupid. I have every right to disagree with Joy or Jeff G., and I don't accept that disagreement makes me a bad person.

Personally, I learn something every time I get into a discussion with someone I disagree with. It may only be that in defending my own position, I see aspects of the question I hadn't considered. Or it may be that there is some merit to my opponent's arguments, even if I ultimately I don't change my mind.

From what I can see, Patterico and Jeff agree on quite a bit.

But it seems to me that we are losing the ability to disagree without descending into personal attacks. And I think one ought to be very, very careful before calling another blogger a liar with respect to his own statements, especially when the supposed "proof" is a premise your opponent doesn't just disagree with but has explicitly rejected. We don't get to project our own beliefs onto our opponents.

Or at least there was a time when I thought this was the point of Jeff's argument. All of which reminds me of an old joke:

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Posted by Cassandra at December 14, 2009 05:44 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/3449

Comments

We don't get to project our own beliefs onto our opponents.

But Libs can -- it's in their rulebook.

Yeah, I know -- *racist-whap-whap-whap!*

Posted by: BillT at December 14, 2009 09:38 AM

Well, apparently conservatives can too :p

And they do it all the time, because oddly enough it turns out that we're human, with all the flaws that entails. We're just too close to the subject (ourselves) to see it dispassionately.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2009 09:47 AM

Yah, I know it’s wrong to project my interpretations, but after reading this piece, I could not help but imagine that I was a reading an assessment of wayward students written by Sister Mary Stigmata, aka Da Penguin!

And… that’s not a bad thing, just as long as I’m not one of the students.

*Ducks as the stainless steel yardstick scribes an arc overhead overhead causing a mini sonic boom, which is sure to rattle blogs all over the intertubes.*

Posted by: "Joliet" Jake Blues at December 14, 2009 09:52 AM

To add to the gravitas of this argument, I believe that 10,347.4 angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Posted by: a former european at December 14, 2009 10:16 AM


"10,347.4 angels" makes no sense. Therefore, I believe you said that 657 million angels can dance upon the head of a pin, sirrah :p

I know Patterico, and I like him.

I don't know Jeff, but I have no real reason to dislike him (though he seems to have taken quite the dislike to me ;p). However, he's entitled to that position. I don't confuse it with my being either a good or bad person.

The longer I stay on the Intertubes, the more convinced I become that manners are really, really important. What I find amusing is the number of folks who equate a desire for civility with all sorts of moral turpitude/being insufficiently impressed with the supreme rightness of righty rightiness.

I disagree with both conservative and liberal friends all the time. How boring the world would be if we all thought the same thing all the time.

Admitting your opponent has a point doesn't make one insecure in one's own position. There are few tough questions where there is no reasonable room for disagreement between decent people. I'm not sure how we forgot that, but forgotten it seems to be.


Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2009 10:27 AM

Heya, Doll.

And though I believe very strongly that Attila is not just wrong, but really, really wrong about Patterico's motivation (which I believe she has no way of knowing), that's her opinion and she's entitled to it.

Hm. Not sure whether or not that refers to my suggestion that there might be a faint scent of defensiveness in Patrick's decision to post about RSM in that way. My primary criticisms of what I call Patrick's "non-accusation accusation" post have a lot more to do with what I felt was his failure in judgement in publishing a charge that someone had written something "racist."

Jeff can argue that Patterico's position is logically inconsistent.

That is, indeed, what Jeff's primary argument is: that there is no such thing as a racist statement by a person who isn't racist, so therefore to call Stacy "a person who made a racist statement" is to impute racism to him.

And given the dictionary definition of racism, it's hard not to wonder whether Patrick is trying to have it both ways as much as Jeff is. Because the dictionary doesn't distinguish between "racists," and "people who make racist statements."

. . . But what I really think we need to do is get down to calling each other frauds and liars! And hypocrites!

(I thought of linking your post, but if I do that the wrong people may see it, and if they bring that pissing contest over here you'll never get the smell of urine out of your carpet.)

Posted by: Little Miss Attila at December 14, 2009 10:09 PM

You don't need to link :)

I just figured I'd fire a parting shot.

Jeff's primary argument is: that there is no such thing as a racist statement by a person who isn't racist, so therefore to call Stacy "a person who made a racist statement" is to impute racism to him.

And that would be a nifty argument except that if he gets to project his opinions onto people who manifestly don't agree with him, by what principle does he object to the Left (many of whom believe there's no such thing as a non-racist white person) imputing racism to him?

I'll answer that one: there ain't one.

And the fact is that he is telling Pat what he said and what he meant. And by his own rules, he doesn't get to do that. Except that it appears his rules have lots of convenient loopholes ... for him, but not for others.

Not sure whether or not that refers to my suggestion that there might be a faint scent of defensiveness in Patrick's decision to post about RSM in that way. My primary criticisms of what I call Patrick's "non-accusation accusation" post have a lot more to do with what I felt was his failure in judgement in publishing a charge that someone had written something "racist."

I didn't get the latter out of what you wrote :p

But I'm not gonna tell you what you meant b/c I figure you're the best judge of that :)

The thing is, I absolutely DO see a distinction between being a racist and saying something that (contrary to some of the examples put forth) doesn't just "sound" racist but is objectively speaking motivated by racial animus.

I love men. But like all women (and like all men I know) I have my little stereotypes in my head about them, not all of them rational. Like the one about how much better off we'd all be if women ruled the planet as despotic dictators for life ;p Men behave that way often enough to perpetuate the stereotypes but women do many of these things too. Not as often and often not as egregiously, but they do.

Just as men (though they'd never admit this) do many of the things women are stereotyped for - usually not as often and not as flagrantly. I've known some wicked manipulative and catty men in my life. And I've known women who coldly compartmentalize their emotions and use people.

But if I'm mad, I've been known to think, "Dammit.... men are all such [fill in the blank]". I'm pretty good about not voicing such thoughts but we all have them, and they're sexist.

So... am *I* a sexist just because, during a long life, I have a sexist thought or two? By Jeff's formula I must be: if I say something sexist, I'm a sexist.

*sigh*

The thing is, people aren't logical and consistent in their behavior all the time. And to make things even more confusing, sometimes it's the very awareness of having bias that motivates a person to scrupulously fair (though such a person might have a momentary lapse). Am I to declare such a person a racist for succumbing to his worse instincts during a weak moment even if his behavior 99% of the time is irreproachable? I don't think that's fair or logical..

So I find Jeff's "you can't call a statement racist without calling the utterer racist" completely unconvincing on logical grounds alone.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 14, 2009 10:23 PM

His take on it is a bit different--I think he thinks that a person who makes a racist statement was a racist at the moment he or she said what he or she said.

Whereas for Pat, that label can't be used for the person unless there is a persistent pattern of saying (or doing) racist things.

No word on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, though . . .

Posted by: Little Miss Attila at December 15, 2009 01:31 AM

No word on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin...

Common, hat, or firing?

Posted by: BillT at December 15, 2009 02:23 AM

"No word on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin...Common, hat, or firing? "
Ifn ya got angles on yur firing pin/bolt face, ya gonna hava head spacin' problems and accuracy gonna suffer. Why ya might just wind up shootin' yursef inna foot!

Posted by: Buckshot Metatarsal at December 15, 2009 07:11 AM

You shouldn't have angles in a bolt-faced font, and tou can avoid shooting yourself in the foot if your entries are accurate on your FaceBolt page...

Posted by: BillT at December 15, 2009 07:25 AM

*footshot*

tou [delete]
you [insert]

Posted by: BillT at December 15, 2009 07:26 AM

I think he thinks that a person who makes a racist statement was a racist at the moment he or she said what he or she said.

But this is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Because to me that makes absolutely NO sense.

I could go off on a long explanation with examples of why I think I'm right, but that's really beside the point b/c this stopped being about the issue at hand long ago. I just think if you're going to accuse someone of doing something reprehensible out of some hidden motive, it's not fair play to attribute YOUR motives or your rationale to them.

Especially when they're on record already as saying they don't agree with you. The irony is that this is nothing more than a thinly veiled, "You're lying about your motivation", which is pretty funny when you stop and think that what Patterico is accused of is making a thinly veiled accusation of racism that doesn't even fit his definition of what it means to be racist!

Posted by: Cassandra at December 15, 2009 07:40 AM

Maybe I'm in the wrong "head space." :p

This requires more thought, which means I must have another cup of coffee.

After which, I'll check my firing pins for angles, which . . . I thought there was only that single directional angle on 'em--that 90-degree thingie. But I'll look.

Posted by: Little Miss Attila at December 15, 2009 01:21 PM

To me, the fundamental irony that is Jeff Goldstein has no problem usurping the intent of other authors -- yet supposedly espouses a theory that frowns on that.

How does he get away with this? By falsely claiming that I endorse the concept of twisting a speaker's meaning against him.

This way, if I ever prove that he has misstated my position, he claims that he is just using my own tactics against me. "Well, you endorse twisting a speaker's meaning, so how does it feel when it's done to you?"

The fact that I do not endorse that somehow gets pushed by the wayside.

Posted by: Patterico at December 15, 2009 09:12 PM

Cassandra,

Here's the thing. There are two questions to be resolved in this argument. The first question is: Did McCain give expression to a racist idea. The second is: Who is the best interpreter of communication, the speaker/writer or the listener/reader.

Goldstein's position on the first question is that the idea being expressed is only racist if it originates in racist thought. That is, only a racist can say something racist.


Frey's position on the same question is that the idea might be racist, but he's not sure, and he's not sure that McCain is sure, and so he wants to leave it to the interpretation of himself and others in the audience --unless and until such a time as McCain clarifies himself. [Which McCain is under no obligation to do, by the way, but that's another question.] That is, McCain might not be a racist, but the original statement might be racist IF THE AUDIENCE INTERPRETS IT THAT WAY.

On the second question Goldstein's position is that the person communicating is the best (indeed the only) interpreter of what he intends to communicate, while allowing that the communicator can miscommunicate by not making his intention clear. Frey's position is that under some circumstances [miscommunication?] the intended audience understands the communication better than the communicator does.

In order to demonstrate why Frey is wrong, Goldstein pretends to adopt Frey's position on interpretation and applies it to him, while retaining his own position on intention. Thus: Frey is anti-semitic because he said something that could be interpreted as anti-semitic JUST AS McCAIN SAID SOMETHING THAT COULD BE INTERPRETED AS RACIST.

The only person in the debate who's being inconsistent (not to say hypocritical) is Frey, who insists that his words be absolutely interpreted by his stated intent, while reserving to himself the right to better interpret McCain's intent than McCain.

Posted by: Ernst Schreiber at December 16, 2009 02:19 PM

In order to demonstrate why Frey is wrong, Goldstein pretends to adopt Frey's position on interpretation and applies it to him, while retaining his own position on intention.

That may have been what he intended, but it ain't what he said. He flat out said, "only a racist can say racist things... and therefore Patterico called Stacy a racist even if he disagrees that only a racist can say racist things and that he doesn't have enough information to conclude that Stacy is a racist".

Sorry, but that's not going to fly.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 16, 2009 02:25 PM

Ernst, the problem is this.

Jeff says:
1) All males are boyscouts
2) Chris is a male
Therefor
3) Chris is a boyscout

This is a perfectly valid logical construct. The conclusion follows perfectly from its own premises.

Frey says:
A) Not all males are boyscouts
B) Chris is a male
therefor
C) There is not enough information to say if Chris is a boyscout.

This is *also* a perfectly valid logical construct. The conclusion follows perfectly from its own premises.

Both systems are sound under their own rules, but Jeff is trying to say that Frey's construct is not, but to do so he has to change the rules.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 16, 2009 03:00 PM

As for who is the best interpreter, it's not a really well defined space.

If Hitler were to claim "I'm not anti-semitic." would you believe him?

If you say the speaker is the only interpreter you must conclude that he was not. The 6 million dead Jews notwithstanding.

I think it not unreasonable for the audience to conclude "You Lie!". And if that's your conclusion, you should have the guts to just come out and say it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 16, 2009 03:11 PM

I think Cassandra the more precise syllogism is

a) all boyscouts are male
b) Chris is a boyscout
Therefor
c) Chris is male

Whereas Frey's position is: because Chris won't put his uniform on for me, he might be male, he might be female, I don't know.

Goldstein is consistent within his system because what we were talking about was McCain's intentions. If McCain's statement was racist, it's because his intent was racist. If his intent was racist, he must necessarily BE a racist. If his intent wasn't racist, then the statement cannot logically be racist. Frey could have conceded the point, and accepted the fact that he misinterpreted McCain's words. He chose instead to shift the debate from the proper interpretation of McCain's intent to the proper interpretation of his own (I didn't call McCain a racist, I only said his statement sounded racist to me). At this point Frey lost the argument, because the only racism in evidence is in his mind --his interpretation of McCain's intent or unintentional intent (an oxymoron), and his intent in raising the question in the first place. Goldstein makes that clear by doing the same thing to him that he (Frey) did to McCain. Frey responds by objecting to Goldstein's imposing his interpretation of Frey's intent upon his (Frey's) actual intent. AND YET THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT FREY ALLOWS WITHIN HIS "SYSTEM" WHEN HE SAYS THAT "THE SPEAKER IS NOT NECESSARILY THE MOST RELIABLE INTERPRETER OF HIS OWN WORDS." Jeff's system is as sound as a two-legged stool.

Yu-Ain, if the intent is to decieve ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman") or dissemble (it depends on what the meaning of "is" is), and you recognize that intent, then yelling "Liar!" at the State of the Union may indeed be appropriate, if ill-mannered. Mixed metaphor, I know, but I can't recall what it was the Obama said. On the other hand, there's enough context now to suggest that when the President says, "let me be clear... blah blah blah... he doesn't really intend to be clear.

Sorry for the long post.

Posted by: Ernst Schreiber at December 16, 2009 05:15 PM

Whereas Frey's position is: because Chris won't put his uniform on for me, he might be male, he might be female, I don't know.

I think it would be more accurate to say that Patterico said:

1. All boy scouts are male.

2. Boy scouts wear boy scout uniforms. That's generally how you know they're a boy scout.

3. But anyone can put on a boy scout uniform.

4. Therefore, simply putting on a boy scout uniform doesn't make you a boy scout. And if simply putting on a boy scout uniform once or twice does't prove you're a boy scout, then the fact that someone saw RSM in a boy scout uniform in 1996 doesn't prove he's male. Or a boy scout.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 16, 2009 05:33 PM

And there was no reason for "Frey" to concede a point he doesn't agree with.

That's what is so unreasonable about Jeff's position. He doesn't get to demand that other people accept his position.

He just doesn't.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 16, 2009 05:35 PM

Goldstein is consistent within his system because what we were talking about was McCain's intentions.

Yes, he is. The problem is that Frey is not operating within Jeff's system. He's operating in a different system. And within Frey's system, Frey is also consistent.

Whereas Frey's position is: because Chris won't put his uniform on for me, he might be male, he might be female, I don't know.

In our previous format
1) All boyscouts are male
2) Chris may or may not be a boyscout
Therefor:
3) Chris may or may not be a male

This is also perfectly logically consistent.

Jeff cannot claim that Frey is inconsistent with Frey's own rules, by changing the rules to Jeff's rules.

Frey's premises may be incorrect and therefor the conclusion incorrect, but his conclusion does follow from the premises.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 16, 2009 05:43 PM

But anyone can put on a boy scout uniform.

And from the other thread about "men don't do such things" there's probably a whole p*&n outlet specifically tailored towards girls in boy scout uniforms.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 16, 2009 05:47 PM

Chris may or may not be a male

ACCUSER!!!! I KNOW WHAT YOU MEANT BY THAT, AND IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAID!!!

Posted by: Cassandra at December 16, 2009 05:48 PM

Cassandra,

You have a great site and are one of the clearest thinkers on the blogosphere … but, in this case you and Frey are wrong. In Frey’s case he makes a weasel accusation: “I don’t know if McCain is a racist” sound very much like “I have heard he molests young children but there may be extenuating circumstances.” It’s a passive/aggressive statement and in a time when racism is perhaps the one unforgivable sin, it’s devastating.

Jeff’s defense of the primacy of the speaker in determining the meaning of what is said is important. For some reason, Frey decided to make a big deal of it and Jeff responded poorly. However, unless meaning is left with the issuer, we are at them mercy of deconstructionists; and that is very unpleasant wether it comes from the left or the right.

Posted by: Moneyrunner at December 17, 2009 10:52 PM

Moneyrunner:

I'm perfectly happy to entertain arguments on this one, but I have to ask: do you really see no irony in this statement?

In Frey’s case he makes a weasel accusation: “I don’t know if McCain is a racist” sound very much like “I have heard he molests young children but there may be extenuating circumstances.”

It is you (and Jeff) who insist on (as you say) ignoring the primacy of the speaker in determining the meaning of what is said. As I've said, you can decide you don't believe Patrick meant what he said. But that wasn't Jeff's argument.

You can't pretend to give primacy to the speaker's explicitly stated intent (X) while saying, "I've decided he didn't mean "X" because it sounds to me like Y". You can say, "I've decided he meant "Y" because I think he was lying".

But again, that wasn't Jeff's argument.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 18, 2009 08:22 AM

I also need to point out for clarity's sake that I didn't agree with Patrick and most of his readers when they said RSM's statement was racist.

Even so, I think you can say something that is a racist (not racist sounding) statement and not BE a racist. So I disagree with Jeff there, too.

I have said things in my life that were mean and yet I am not a mean person. They were momentary lapses. People have them. I don't think this applies to the RSM thing b/c I don't think his statement was racist in the first place. But the same reasoning could be applied to RSM even if one decided that statement was racist: the point being that if they had to go all the way back to 1996 to find something that isn't even unambiguously "racist", it's probably not representative of who RSM is.

That's the other irony here. Jeff demands that we accept his reasoning because (he says) it's the only defense against stupid accusations like this.

But it's not. There are others.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 18, 2009 08:27 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)