March 22, 2012

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.

(h/t geoffB)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:27am
42 comments | Trackback

Comments (42)

  1. Republican proggs can be identified by their fear of being seen operating in synch with formative American principle. This enables the oppression of free speech and a host of other oppressions, making the “right’s” proggs truly progressive – significantly and cooperatively part of the cancerous problem of progressivism.

    Further, if we accept that by the evidence Romney is a Republican progressive, said rightwing proggs reinforce their support of the intellectual, and ultimately, ideological defeat of conservatism. They have not touched pitch and not been defiled.

    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.

    With the “right’s” active aid and comfort.

    A vote for Republican progressivism is a vote against foundational principles, namely against classical liberalism.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do, in effect, nothing. Freedom is an active choice. The ostensible right has squandered that choice.

  2. Dear LA City Council:

    Go fuck yourselves. Bitches.

  3. I just got an email from an Ellen Ripley that says, “You all know what I think needs to be done.”

  4. They are not against freedom of speech. They agree that their ideological brethren can say what they want.

  5. It is easy to become desensitized to what other groups find intolerable which ultimately fosters an environment where negative comments can go unchecked

    It’s hard to know where to start with that statement.

    How about: I thought the constitution fostered an environment where negative comments can go unchecked.

    I’m of a group that finds others intolerance of negative comments intolerable. What now, we draw straws to decide which groups intolerance controls the other?

    What does he mean exactly by “intolerable”? The offended party can no longer live? They become withered and helpless shadows of their former selves under the merciless barrage of words?

    How about “desensitized”. Have we officially moved past racism, unconscious racism, and finally arrived at unaware racism? Are we to study all identity groups and learn what each finds intolerable speech? Maybe there will be an app for that. When you get introduced to, say, a Korean fellow, you can open the Un-desensitizer App, key in Korean, and a list of forbidden words and phrases will guide you through the meeting.

  6. Needless to say, when you key in “white American male”, or “conservative”, the Un-desensitizer App will give you a blank screen.

  7. A list, yes.

    I’ll be needing a list.

  8. Thank you Flo and Eddie !

  9. I thought the constitution fostered an environment where negative comments can go unchecked.

    The right to — in my case, proudly from time to time so as to make the point — be a complete prick completely outweighs the right to hamper speech.

    Choose one.

    Damn nation of sub-children, anyway…

  10. It’s hard to know where to start with that statement.

    I went with “Yeah. And…?”

  11. Thanks for the reminder of the Hobbesian state of nature, Flo and Eddie!

  12. A list, yes.

    I’ll be needing a list.

    Would that be … a blacklist?

    (ducks and covers)

  13. When you get introduced to, say, a Korean fellow, you can open the Un-desensitizer App, key in Korean, and a list of forbidden words and phrases will guide you through the meeting.

    Lee, they kinda already did that.

  14. Here’s a little bit about language and progressives that I’d like to share, from the lawyer of the Toulouse jihadi:

    Mohamed Merah’s former lawyer Christian Etelin has criticised police tactics which led to the al-Qaeda gunman’s death. He told AFP:

    “His death is the logical outcome of the strategy adopted, he was increasingly shut up in his autism, in his removal from reality, nothing was done to help him and reestablish a link, dialogue.

    I would have liked for everything to have been done to understand how he could have undertaken such a process of dehumanisation… this is a missed opportunity for understanding of human beings.”

    He said the police strategy during a 32-hour siege of Merah’s flat “could only push him straight towards being hardline and wanting to die with weapons in his hands”.

    Got that? The man who murdered Jewish children is a victim. Master Sergeant Imad Ibn-Ziaten, Corporal Abel Chennouf, Private Mohamed Legouad, Jonathan, Aryeh and Gabriel Sandler, and Myriam Monsonego could not be reached for comment.

  15. Mark Steyn had a piece on these kinds of articles at NRO the other day, SW. He presented a slew of headlines about “Muslims Fearful of Backlash” following the Tube bombings, 9/11 and such.

    Personally, I am glad the gendarmes sent him home to Allah.

  16. SW – a lot of places aren’t using his first name, it might make people jump to conclusions.

  17. Unhelpful…Visigothy…Right on the money!

  18. I read that Steyn piece, leigh, but the Telegraph live stream was the first I’d heard from the poor, dear, dead jihadi victim’s lawyer.

    If you’ve a strong constitution, you might find this a revealing glimpse into the mind of the left.

  19. SW, just like Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris, the political left will always have moral equivalence to cherish betwixt and between one another.

  20. KFI also has a guy named Handel on in the morning, an Obama conservative (?, don’t ask me) , who is every bit as offensive as John & Ken. He has a CA Democrat Party operative on doing sports and they have been pumping for The Won and now covering his back for years. And consistently engaging in sexual and ethnic stereotyping and slurs. Not a word from the city council. (though CAIR has gone after him)

    I don’t listen to John and Ken, they are a bit of a radio version of O’Reilly but somewhat funnier and edgier. They do some good work and are definitely one of the few voices of sanity on the local air in LA on our climate change suicide pact (AB32), establishment Republicans (they were solidly after David Dreier who is finally going down this year), illegal immigration, and tax increases. They were and are a strongly against the bevy of tax raises and propaganda Edmund Brown’s Little Boy and his band of merry fruitloops are jamming down our throats next summer, and that is really why John and Ken must be silenced now.

    If the Progs don’t get those tax increases, the free-ride is over in CA.

  21. Leigh,

    Steyn’s quote was actually better than that…

    It was, “Muslims fear backlash after the Tube bombings tomorrow“.

    Delicious.

  22. I suppose, sdferr, that the counter claim will be that Lindsey German is an outlier on the left and doesn’t represent them. The problem for those of us who have been paying attention is the moral equivalence that you mention – it is practically their defining characteristic.

  23. “His death is the logical outcome of the strategy adopted, he was increasingly shut up in his autism, in his removal from reality, nothing was done to help him and reestablish a link, dialogue.

    Wait, you mean he was an AGW/CC denier too? Oer was he UNJUSTLY shunned by people who just don’t like talking to scary nutjobs?

  24. mv, I think it’s about time, indeed long past time, we ripped the free ride out from under NPR, then. In the name of “evening the playing field” and all.

    They can do beg-a-thons and sell mugs and tote bags. Maybe do car washes and bake sales.

  25. It’s the Islamophobia™, dontcha know, SW.

  26. ” I just got an email from an Ellen Ripley that says, “You all know what I think needs to be done.”

    Clone her into a monster-fucking horror show?

  27. I was reminded immediately of the Catherine Ashton blurt SW: “When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places.”

  28. “Muslims fear backlash after the Tube bombings tomorrow“.

    That’s it! That was delicious, indeed!

  29. Exactly, JD. This is what we scientific types call a ‘clue':

    “I would have liked for everything to have been done to understand how he could have undertaken such a process of dehumanisation… this is a missed opportunity for understanding of human beings.”

    If I’m not mistaken, this process was entirely down to his acquaintance with the Koran whilst incarcerated. But that is unthinkable, so forgive me thinking it.

  30. Lady Ashton says the words “and Sderot” were left out of her statement, sdferr, so she was not guilty of and moral equivalency. Bibi remains unimpressed.

  31. Clone her into a monster-fucking horror show?

    I’m pretty sure that wasn’t her idea.

  32. … this is a missed opportunity for understanding of human beings.

    Oh…I think the French SWAT team understood this particular brand of “human being” just fine.

    Which is why they sent a few 2,800 feet/per second hand shakes with lead invitations to assume room temperature.

    And then they apparently threw him out a window. Seriously. This article
    says, “He died after being shot in the head”…and the next paragraph in the same article reads, “…before leaping to his death from a window.”

    Either super zombie terrorist, or they figured the drop would help the asshole comfortably return to his base molecules quicker.

    And they say the French are not polite.

  33. ” I’m pretty sure that wasn’t her idea.”

    I’m still bitter.

  34. Maybe a wingshot?

  35. I’m still bitter.

    palaeomerus, if you haven’t read it, this is a great time killer imagining what could’ve/should’ve been.

    It’s William Gibson’s screenplay for Alien III.

  36. As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, this was an open question until 1936. There were two schools of thought. Hamilton argued that the preamble’s reference to a power to tax to “provide for the … general Welfare of the United States” was a separate, substantive source of authority, empowering the government to tax for any purpose so long as it arguably benefited all Americans — i.e., it had to be “general,” not for the good of some at the expense of others. Madison countered that this would defeat the purpose of the rest of Sec. 8 — which, following the preamble, exactingly enumerates Congress’s powers. For Madison, the preamble simply made clear that Congress could tax and spend for the purpose of carrying out these limited grants of authority to regulate interstate commerce, establish Post Offices, establish lower federal courts, etc. Otherwise, the federal government could grow into an uncontrollable monstrosity that spends trillions more than the trillions it takes in in taxes. (Oh, right …).

    I think Madison was correct, but the New Deal Supreme Court sided with Hamilton in United States v. Butler (1936) (more on this here). Alas, it appears commentators on the right have little stomach to revisit this conclusion because it would be tantamount to arguing that the welfare state is unconstitutional. Gov. Romney, for example, took umbrage at Gov. Rick Perry’s suggestion that social security is unconstitutional — but he was never asked to explain why he thinks it is constitutional, nor were he, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich asked to tell us whether there are any limits on Congress’s General Welfare power.

    So we’ll instead play the semantics of “tax” versus “penalty”. It seems like an inconsequential difference — most people just want to know what they have to pay, not whether the government labels the payment a tax, fee, fine, penalty, etc. The semantics are of tremendous consequence only because of the bedrock question that nobody will be asking.

    link

  37. I guess maybe I hear my own dog whistles, because when I see an article like this refer to Ms. Fluke’s little show on Capitol Hill as being “about women’s access to contraception” I read that as “getting me to pay for her already widely available contraception.” This particular dog whistle has the effect of making me growl, rather than roll over and play dead.

    I could almost accept their misunderstanding regarding what Fluke was asking for, except their whole basis for condemning Limbaugh is based on the assumption that he used the offending terms precisely in response to her asking. In which case, if that were so, I would object to his words as well. Denying access to the pill for people like Fluke would be a bad thing. Objecting to her asking me to pay for it? Not so much.

  38. newrouter says March 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    You have just identified my litmus test. I side with Mr. Madison.

  39. The City Council has now passed the resolution.

    Link to two page pdf.

  40. Tolerance is ascendant!

    And when we hear intolerance, we’ll let you know. Haters!

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