Language, progressivism, and you
I know, I know: all the discussion on this site about how language and intepretation works, or are asserted to work, is “fundamentally unserious.” After all, we have a member of Team R to get into office, so that he can get to work diluting heavily concentrated progressive initiatives with some of the GOP’s patented compassionate conservatism (which consists largely of accepting the left’s narrative frames, then working to show that we, too, care — only not quite as much).
And still, I keep at it. Stubbornly. Never learning my lesson. CBS:
City Council members were one step closer on Wednesday to becoming the first in the nation to adopt a resolution condemning certain types of speech on public airwaves.
Councilmember Jan Perry introduced legislation this week that would call upon media companies to ensure “on-air hosts do not use and promote racist and sexist slurs” on radio and other broadcasts.
Members of Black Media Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Korean-American Bar Association, and American Indians in Film and Television were on hand to voice their support for the proposal.
— quick interjection here: note that each group supporting this is just that: a political interest group tied to a given identity narrative they presume to speak for. This is the preferred method of leftist ideology: separating people into manageable groups with consistent and official grievance narratives, thereby bracketing individuals who dissent from the presumptive ascendant group identity narrative as, eg., outliers, ethnic- or gender- traitors, those suffering from false consciousness, etc. That is, this appeal to multicultralism — far from the actual appeal to individual differences it pretends itself to be — is a collectivist ruse, a way to clean up the problems inherent in the founding social and legal impulse to protect the individual by redefining individualism in terms of disparate interest groups rather than disparate individuals.
Once you recognize that intellectual step, you’re ready to combat it. To wit:
The proposal cites a “long history of racially offensive comments as well as deplorable sexist remarks, particularly towards women and Black, Latino, and Asian communities” at KFI 640 and calls for parent company Clear Channel Communications and other broadcasters to hire a more diverse workforce to offset the trend.
“It is easy to become desensitized to what other groups find intolerable which ultimately fosters an environment where negative comments can go unchecked and corporate guidelines and policies are no longer being enforced,” the resolution reads.
Remarks from syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh referring to Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying on Capitol Hill about women’s access to contraception were also cited in the proposal.
Whether or not you agree with Limbaugh is not important: what is clear is that Limbaugh was using the “slut” trope in furtherance of a political point, and he was doing so satirically and pointedly.
That so many putative “conservatives” rushed to condemn the speech itself rather than object to either the sentiment or the trope, is troubling. And that’s because, as is evident in the proposal by this local city council, this is not really about “offensive” speech at all: it is instead about controlling speech, and that will be accomplished, once the left (with the blessings from a timid “right”) is able to take legal steps to enshrine PC laws, by empowering politically-motivated interpretive communities to decide what comes to count as offensive in the first place. Beyond that even, the empowerment here is extended to pretensions on the part of those putatively offended to determine when a certain type of speech is being “promoted” — which speaks to intent — though real intent will always be bracketed by the complainants should they believe it not to match the formulations they decide are offensive.
Once the left is able to institutionalize its control over what comes to count as offensive — and recall Stanley Fish’s remarks that there need not be a singular standard for offense, but rather we are to judge what counts as offensive based on a moral standard in which intent is not tied to the individual, but rather to the political identity to which that individual lays claim — they will control through legislation and regulation not their own speech (whose intent is inherently noble), but rather the speech of those presumed to give offense: namely, conservatives, who refuse to abide by the strictures on speech dictated by motivated identity group spokespeople, who simply don’t pass the “litmus test” designed by the left to guarantee compliance to their ideological and policy agendas.
And they will do this using a full-scale assault, laying claim to determining intent while simultaneously detaching utterances from their contexts in order to create new texts they will determine are offensive regardless of any intent beyond their own to present it as such.
— all of which they will have done with the blessings of so many on the right.
At which point, checkmate.