February 27, 2012

Racism is how you made me feel. At least, for an hour or so. Or until I’m satisfied that you are good and cowed, and maybe embarrassed

Coming soon to an area outside a “free-speech zone” near you, official policing of “racism” and intolerance, as determined by…airline officials, speech police, and people who just feel wronged.

In the UK, for instance, some things are just not said:

David Jones, the creator of the popular, animated children’s character Fireman Sam, was recently accused of racism and held by Gatwick Airport (United Kingdom) security for an hour. The situation, which Jones dubbs an “Orwellian nightmare,” occurred after he commented about a Muslim‘s woman’s clothing.

After noticing how easily the woman, whose face was almost covered in its entirety (she was wearing a hijab), was able to get through the security process without showing her face, Jones, 67, commented, saying, “If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.” It was this statement — a short quip — that landed him in hot water.

Here’s how the situation unfolded: When Jones entered the metal detector, his artificial hip apparently set off the alarm. He was subsequently searched and, though nothing was found, a security guard notified him that he was being detained because he had made an offensive comment. Jones, of course, maintained that he had done nothing wrong.

Once he made it to the other side of the checkpoint, officials allegedly accused him of racism. A Muslim security guard had purportedly overheard his comment and said that she was offended as a result. At this point, security staff, an airline administrator and a police officer spent the next hour trying to coerce Jones to apologize. He claims the group told him, “we now live in a different time and some things are not to be said.”

Not that I wish to bring up yet again my longstanding, though “fundamentally unserious,” observations about language, interpretative assumptions, and the idea that what it is we think we’re doing when we claim to be interpreting creates the very foundation of our reigning epistemological paradigm, but, well, the world (in particular, those who would presume to run it in a way that diminishes the individual and works to balkanize populations into identity groups in order to better corral), keep getting in the way. So I really have no choice.

My apologies.

In this instance, kernel assumptions about who gets to determine, and so control, “public” meaning is precisely behind Britain’s move to redefine what comes to count as “racism”: the receiver of some utterance or set of signifiers “interprets” them and then claims that those signifiers, turned into the receiver’s own peculiar signs, made them feel uncomfortable, or offended, or uneasy; and recall that Michelle Obama herself is an eager adept of just such a move to turn claims of discomfort (whether real or potential and hypothetical) into official intolerance, with the onus on the utterer to prove he or she isn’t, in fact, racist.

This is the path we’re on here, and I’m going to keep pressing the issue, because I can see all the preconditions for just such a move not only tolerated at the linguistic level (where, despite the claims of textualists, they remain incoherent), but institutionalized.

And that way leads to tyranny. It really is that simple.

(thanks to Darleen)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 11:16am
30 comments | Trackback

Comments (30)

  1. On the plus side Jeff, since the logic is inevitiable, it won’t be much longer before you get to start working out all that alleged anger, agression and tendencies towards ultraviolence.

    If we’re aggrieved, must we not be free to act, less our invioble right to expression be oppressed?

  2. Here in our society, we have a constitution that gives us many rights, specifically, First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers really intended. I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak our mind, not to piss off other people and other cultures, which is what you did.

    I don’t think you’re aware, sir, there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity – uh, I understand you’re an atheist. But, see, Islam is not just a religion, it’s their culture, their culture. It’s their very essence, their very being. They pray five times a day towards Mecca. To be a good Muslim, before you die, you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca unless you are otherwise told you cannot because you are too ill, too elderly, whatever. But you must make the attempt.
    […]
    Then what you have done is you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive.
    […]
    But you have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.

  3. But you have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.

    I only read your except, but it sounds like he’s just babbling at the end there…

  4. Heh, Malcolm X’s shade tells me that Calypso Louie would know from assassination.

  5. Here in our society, we have a constitution that gives us many rights, specifically, First Amendment rights.

    The Constitution ‘gives’ us nothing of the sort. The Constitution grants specific, limited powers to the Government, and recognizes the right of individual citizens to live their lives on their own terms. The rights exist with or without the document.

    This joker should be booted from the bench for such a fundamental misunderstanding.

  6. It’s fucking ridiculous that Obama would be assassinated.

    As openly hated and scorned as GWB was during much of his presidency, no one laid a hand on him. It’s insulting to the SS detail to think that they would be derelict in their duty with Barry. Sort of like all of those bullshit stories floating around about how the Marines on Marine One never saluted Clinton because they didn’t respect him. It may have been that they didn’t respect Clinton, but they respected their duty to the Corps.

  7. As for the gentleman at Gatwick, I wish him the best of luck, and hope he can raise a huge stink and get a few people fired. Though given the thoroughness of the rot over there, I’m not going to bet a lot of money on his success.

    Still, I think a lot of mileage could be gained from an argument along the lines of “Making a factual observation about a disguised woman going through security is supposed to be somehow offensive, while detaining and harassing a respectable, law-abiding taxpayer isn’t? Just what sort of madness is this?”

  8. You are mistaken, Winston. Free speech does not entail racism. Free Speech is racism.

  9. Poor Winston. He had to work so hard to recover his sanity.

  10. Seems to me the word racist no longer means what it did during the civil rights era. Used to be about white hoods and nooses, now it’s about ill advised cliches, and criticism of the mixed race POTUS.

    Racist now equals insensitive+identity group, or, like a hate crime, it’s a hate insensitive.

    Which, if you’re not sensitive, that is, it’s a thoughtless slight, I don’t know where the hate comes in. Would be tyrants rarely concern themselves with logical inconsistencies like that though.

  11. To take the next step, racist has been broadened to mean any perceived insensitivity to a not white Christian fellow, and with it’s inherent power from the traditional meaning, makes it a great tool of manipulation.

    We resist, the sheep cannot.

  12. This racism business is a fine example of the parade of shadows on the cave wall.

  13. We’re doomed.

  14. Related:

    Judge Martin did not lecture the defendant about free speech or how disputes are resolved in a civilized country. He instead dressed the victim down for failing to appreciate how sensitive Muslims — including the judge himself — are about Islam.

    “Liberals and atheists have methodically waged war against Christianity while simultaneously attempting to limit free speech through enforcing politically correct sensitivity and free association through anti-discrimination laws. Apparently they never stopped to think that others were perfectly capable of learning from their example, others who are far more numerous, ruthless, and dedicated to their cause.”

  15. That didn’t format well, I should have put […] after “-are about Islam.”

  16. Pingback: Thoughtcrime Does Not Entail Missing Your Connecting Flight. Thoughtcrime *is* Missing Your Connecting Flight. « Andrew J. Patrick

  17. And that way leads to tyranny.

    Who says we’re not already there?

  18. More (with video!) from DrSanity.

  19. If you peruse DrSanity, you come across this:

    …the FBI — following the administration’s lead — is purging its training materials of publications that are deemed offensive to Muslims (you know, crazy stuff like claims that passages in the Koran and Hadith promote violent jihad, Islamic supremacism, killing of apostates, oppression of women, etc.). So what are the criteria the Bureau uses to figure out what materials are offensive? And who decides?

    You’ll never guess. Steve, who has been talking to some mighty outraged law-enforcement officials, writes:

    It was just revealed two days ago that FBI Director Mueller secretly met on February 8 at FBI headquarters with a coalition of groups including various Islamist and militant Arabic groups who in the past have defended Hamas and Hizballah and have also issued blatantly anti-Semitic statements. At this meeting, the FBI revealed that it had removed more than 1000 presentations and curricula on Islam from FBI offices around the country that was deemed “offensive.” The FBI did not reveal what criteria was used to determine why material was considered “offensive” but knowledgeable law enforcement sources have told the IPT that it was these radical groups who made that determination. Moreover, numerous FBI agents have confirmed that from now on, FBI headquarters has banned all FBI offices from inviting any counter-terrorist specialists who are considered “anti-Islam” by Muslim Brotherhood front groups.

    Holy Sharia, Batman! Even our FBI is infected with this PC idiocy.

  20. A Muslim security guard had purportedly overheard his comment and said that she was offended as a result.

    I believe that proper followup to that comment is “blow me”, but that’s probably not helpful.

  21. Slightly OT: The Rotten Tomatoes summary for Act of Valor.

    It’s undeniably reverent of the real-life heroes in its cast, but Act of Valor lets them down with a clichéd script, stilted acting, and a jingoistic attitude that ignores the complexities of war.

    Translation: The non-actors couldn’t act, and they didn’t Blame America First, let alone at all.

    Critics gave it a 30%; Audiences 85%

    What cultural elite?

  22. Complexities of war = there are no good guys or bad guys.

  23. I believe that proper followup to that comment is “blow me”, but that’s probably not helpful.

    That only works on middle-upper class white chicks who are offended on a third party’s behalf.

    As in :”I’m offended that your offended” and “Who are you to judge me by my race and gender like that. Y’know, I can’t help that I was born a white heterosexual male!”

    Keep pressing the attack until she starts to apologize, and then suggest how she might go about showing you she’s sincere about wanting to make amends.

  24. Racist now equals insensitive+identity group

    Back in the ’90s, a racist was someone who was winning an argument with a liberal.

  25. That only works on middle-upper class white chicks who are offended on a third party’s behalf.

    Am I the only one who thinks Ben & Jerry’s® response to the flap over fortune cookie pieces in their Lin-Sanity flavor should have been, “It’s not your name on the ice cream, it’s his. If Mr. Lin has an objection he is certainly capable of speaking for himself, and if he wants us to change the recipe or do something else, we will entertain such a request. From him. You, however, can go fluck yourselves.”

  26. McGehee, I think “You, however, can go fuck yourselves” should be used much more often. It does little good to try to engage in reason with an opponent who doesn’t.

  27. Next time I am asked my race I’m going to put down “agnostic”.

  28. From Geoffb’s link:

    “As you will see, Judge Martin did not lecture the defendant about free speech or how disputes are resolved in a civilized country. He instead dressed the victim down for failing to appreciate how sensitive Muslims — including the judge himself — are about Islam.”

    So in Judge Martin’s eyes I’m perfectly entitled to apply some Dad gum Danger-fu on Louis Farrakhan because of how sensitive I am about being referred to as a racist and a sociopath .

    This is good to know.

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