Monday, September 3, 2018

Monkey, Pig, Bitch?

Some years back I spent a week staying at the home of my recording engineer, Gerry Tyra, while we laid down tracks on an album of my songs.  His family didn't care for smoking, so I would go out on the porch of his fenced-in back yard whenever I wanted to light up.  When I did, one of his enormous Great Danes would happily accompany me.  It was usually Jasmine: a coal-black, wonderfully friendly, boisterously playful and dolefully stupid female. 

One day, no longer satisfied with having her velvet ears ruffled, Jasmine made a galumphing circuit of the yard and ended by ramming into a garbage-can by the fence and tipping it over, whereupon she happily plunged into the fallen can, digging for treasure.  Annoyed at the mess, I put out my cigarette and tromped over the the fallen can and yelled at Jasmine:  "Oh, get out of there, you stupid black bitch!"  Jasmine retreated, but only a yard or so, and I started shoveling the garbage back in the can.

What I hadn't known was that, at the same time, a Female Person of Color was walking past in the alley beyond the fence.  She overheard what I'd said, assumed I was talking to her, and promptly started a shouting-fit about racism, sexism, and calling the cops.

I stood the garbage-can back up, climbed on top of it and looked over the fence to see an irritated woman in a flashy dress practically dancing in outrage.  In vain did I explain that I hadn't been talking to her, didn't even know she was there, and had been yelling at a dog.  Oh no, if I even used "those words", I simply had to be a White(!) racist who was insulting her.  I was obliged to haul Jasmine up onto the garbage-can (no easy feat) to where she could be seen, and point out directly that yes, Jasmine was black, and stupid, and a bitch -- a female dog.  To prove that last point, I had to drag Jasmine around, hang her hindquarters over the fence and lift her tail -- and I suspect that the sight thereof was what made the woman give up on her tirade and walk away.  ...Either that or the fact that I had demonstrated enough physical strength to lift and haul a Great Dane...

Anyway, I went back inside and told Gerry my tale.  He chuckled, and mentioned one time when he was at work, had been talking to a co-worker about his dogs, and one of the women in the office stood up and noisily protested his use of the "offensive" word "bitch".  Calm and cool as always, Gerry had asked if she would be equally offended if he'd spoken of a hen, a cow, or a mare;  "those are the proper dictionary terms for females of their species, you know."  The woman retreated, grumbling that it was still "offensive". 

I remembered that whole business earlier this week when I learned that some politician (Republican) was accused of "racism" (by the media) because he'd commented: "Let's not monkey this up".  Gee, would those same talking-heads have objected to the terms "monkeyshines", or "don't monkey with that", or "a monkey-wrench in the works"?

I even heard about some high-ranking police official who objected to the word "pig", in a context which had nothing to do with police.  And of course professional Muslims do the same. 

Nowadays it's fashionable and profitable to be easily offended, especially if you can claim "offense" against somebody from a different political party (or ball team, or rival company).  It's even popular to claim that words do just as much damage as actions -- and that way lies disaster, especially if the definition of any word depends on the "feelings" of the beholder.

Look, I've been a writer and singer all my adult life;  I've made my name and fame and living off of words -- and I know their definitions, and powers, and limitations.  I can tell you from a lifetime of experience that words are not actions, and they have no more power than the listener chooses to give them.  I could stand on a busy downtown street corner and holler "Kill the governor!" and nothing would happen, except that I'd be laughed at... or maybe a cop would eventually come by and tell me to keep my voice down.  I can email "Hillary is a pig!" all day, and she will definitely not grow floppy ears or a curly tail. 

I have to wonder if this worship of the "power" of words isn't an artifact of class.  People who  have grown up in a... hmmm, certain culture wherein they have only to express their wishes and somebody will hurry to comply, tend to assume that this state of affairs will continue when they grow up.  For them, The Word is The Deed -- and oh, the shock and outrage when they learn that it Ain't Necessarily So. 

And there's an even darker underside to it.  What must somebody think of themselves, that every time they hear the words "bitch", "monkey", "pig", "black", or whatever, that they automatically think it's applied to themselves, and can actually harm them?  What kind of psychological weaklings is this culture breeding?

One has to wonder how this certain culture, and its assumptions, has come to be so powerful in the US today.

In any case, it's ridiculous and it's got to stop.

--Leslie <;)))>< 



Paradoctor said...

A speech code is a politeness system; and all politeness systems have certain flaws. They are stupid, arbitrary, and irrational impositions by ambitious control freaks. I call this critique the "Brat's Whinge". Counter to it is the "Geezer's Wheeze", which says that despite their ambitious stupidity, _some_ sort of politeness system is necessary for the survival of civilized society.

Both Brat's Whinge and Geezer's Wheeze are 100% correct. Most people recognize this duality, and though they chafe at the arbitrary rules, they will nonetheless follow them... provided that those rules don't change too quickly. This is because one has to _memorize_ the list of proscribed terms, for one cannot derived them from rational first principles; and memorization is a tedious chore; and people tend to obey the Law of Least Effort.

Fortunately there is a rational rule to heed. It is: never accidentally insult anyone who matters. You can tell who matters because they get to define what's insulting. The definitions change when who matters changes.

(Note that in this analysis, the politically-correct are wheezing Geezers, and the politically-incorrect are whinging Brats.)

Paradoctor said...

I call the preceding analysis the Cynic’s Cackle. Heh heh heh heh heh!

Alchemystudiosink said...

I disagree that its just a "politeness code". Its intolerance disguised as tolerance and a method to control people.

Its practically impossible to avoid accidentally insulting people who /want/ to be insulted. Especially if we're only obeying the "People who matter". I mean what is that? Who are the People that Matter? Surely it isn't someone like you and I. No, it would be people like Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Putin and the like. You know, the people who will kill you for insulting them. Dictators.

At least in the more wide spread where you are actually trying to avoid accidentally insulting the "people who matter".

What we have here is people who want to kill you, but since real murder is generally frowned upon, or they otherwise wouldn't go through with it, they'll kill you socially. A Social Murder. Sometimes people can recover from it, other times the attempt does nothing. Sometimes it isn't so much they want to kill you socially, but doing so gets them what they really want. A social murder of convenience.

Part of all this is to make people feel better, in the manner of huffing paint would. They start off with words that have negative connotation, or tell people these words have negative connotation. Like Disabled. The replaced it with things like Special or Challenged for a time, until the negative connotation caught up with those words as well. Now its starting to go into "Differently Abled"

But more of this is to smoke screen other word changes they use. Illegal Alien became Illegal Immigrant, eventually Undocumented Immigrant. And then they drop the word Undocumented often when talking about it, as to confuse it with Legal Immigrants.

Man Made Global Warming became Man Made Climate Change. Which again, often drops Man Made to just go with climate change. Honestly this is a brilliant amount of word play with this one. No matter what happens, they can scream climate change and that we need more laws and taxes to fix it. Luckily they've not gotten as much headway with that bit of control.

Paradoctor said...

Alchemystudiosink: your analysis is correct; specifically it is the Brat’s Whinge half of correctness. PC is indeed a way to superstitiously control people. But as any Geezer will gladly inform you, people _need_ to be kept under at least _some_ control; and superstition is safer than threats, and quicker than reason.

It’s true that tyrants think themselves people who matter; but so do their scapegoats. The former don’t mind calling people animals; the latter do very much mind being called animals. Which wins the argument defines the difference between barbaric tyranny and civil liberty.

Like you, I laugh at the mincing euphemisms demanded by politesse. They are substitutes for actual compassion, made from artificial ingredients. But they’re better than authentic cruelty.

Alchemystudiosink said...

Tyrants do a good job at keeping people under control, with their superstitions and boogiemen. You can replace the word Animals with just about anything else; Witch, Heretic, Blasphemer, racist, sexist, bigot, etc. Is the one being called the racist the tyrant.. or the ones who call everything anyone does racist?

I do not know what or why something "wins the argument defines the difference between barbaric tyranny and civil liberty." Is it name calling? Nor do I understand how "substitutes for actual compassion, made from artificial ingredients." does anything to stop authentic cruelty. Only that it becomes the smoke and mirrors needed to fool the masses that fail to look at the man behind the curtain.

Paradoctor said...

Politeness is to kindness as placebos are to medicine; they're inexpensive, and they work if you believe them.

And candor is not the same thing as honesty. The difference is a matter of intent, and people can tell the difference from a mile away. Citizens can afford to be honest; tyrants and wannabees can at best be candid.

Who matters? Heroes. And who is heroic? Those who conquer themselves.

Alchemystudiosink said...

No.. No people can't tell the difference a mile away. If people could, one of two things would not have happened. Either A) Trump wouldn't have been elected or B) You wouldn't have now a two year long investigation into whatever they're accusing Russia of today.

Cause at least one of these two things isn't honest, but somehow people allowed it to happen. Possibly both are wrong. But they both can't be honest.

I get this impression that you view the world as black and white, where a good person does and appears good all the time. And evil people are named things Synistero Betrayo with the looks of yzma and they're just on stage stabbing babies, while trying to pretend they're not.

Cause a Tyrant can totally be honest with you. A good person can be dishonest. The world can be a confusing twists of tumbles and ladders. Like the person in Flordia who used the M word. He didn't mean anything that they're trying to shove into his mouth now.Its obvious to anyone who has two braincells to rub together that they're trying to bully him into submission. Perhaps get him to apologize because its the /polite/ thing to do. When a tyrant says get on the floor to use you as a door mat, its the polite thing to do it for them. Turn the other cheek. But sometimes you need to do the right thing, and just say no.

The reason is that if you've been watching every time when someone starts screaming buzzwords like racist, sexist, etc for no good reason, the real shit that comes down is when people apologize afterwards. It is seen as an admission of guilt. After all, why would you apologize if you didn't do anything wrong?

(Not to mention that candor is a synonym with Honesty.)

Paradoctor said...

Candor is honesty with horns and a tail.

It's been many decades since I've seen the world in black&white. That is why I started this thread by advocating the Cynic's Cackle. Recall:

Brat's Whinge: Politeness is stupid.
Geezer's Wheeze: Politeness is necessary.
Cynic's Cackle: Politeness is a necessary stupidity.

You seem to be saying that it is oppressive to be told to not insult people by accident. Well maybe it is, but only because life itself sucks. You're a member of a social species; and some other people in your society are hypervigilant about terms that have, historically, often preceded deadly assault against them. Is their cultural PTSD necessary? Or stupid? I say that it's a necessary stupidity.

And as for the epically dishonest and corrupt Trump: conspiracy to defraud the US is not the only charge that he faces. There are also federal tax fraud charges; state tax fraud charges; campaign law violations; and money laundering charges. All felonies. And let's not forget the boatload of sex-harassment civil suits, plus also a libel case.

Paradoctor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paradoctor said...

There are also emoluments-clause charges.

Paradoctor said...

BTW, I really, really like the idea of some poor fool stuck with the name of Synistero Betrayo. He’s the angsty hero of our tale, of course, and he’s up against Dexter Loyola, who’s a real hard case. What fun!

Alchemystudiosink said...

Well the guy named Synistero betrayed the green lantern core and turned out to be a bad guy.

Alchemystudiosink said...

Anycase, I'd call the "Oh its stupid but needed" the Curmudgeon's Compromise. You know its stupid, might call it stupid behind closed doors, but your willing to bow down to people who 'matter'. No they're not Heroes that conquered themselves. If they were, most people would not need a heavy speech code to force their voices to speak only what those who control the code want them to speak.

Take gun control for example. There is the normal rhetoric spewed about here and there. People who say we need "Common Sense Gun Control" or that we need to compromise. Thing is, the people who want gun control don't compromise. They give up absolutely nothing and only take. And every time that something happens, they try to take a little more. Might be scary black guns one day, and then scary guns with scopes the next day.

I do not intend to give the Knights who say Ni anything. Cause the speech code isn't really about being polite. Its about having a weapon to use whenever someone says the wrong word. In the medival times you'd get called a heritic or a blasphemer whenever you spoke any word that went against the church. Thank those people who eventually went against the speech control back then.

Its a constant thing though as the Knights who say Ni do not rest, and they continue to try and burn anything that goes against them all for the safety of children or to keep people polite, while as the same time excusing themselves, as they believe some people are more equal than others.

Paradoctor said...

Synistero turned out to be a bad guy? Oh what a shocker. Is that what they call writing?

"Curmudgeon's Compromise"? Not bad. But the curmudgeon reserves the right to state, while grinning a great big smile, that the tribal customs are absurd, in the very act of performing the ritual. And not behind closed doors but right before the tribal elders. I've done that sort of thing, you see, and it's super-effective. After they replace their blown-out fuses, they call me either a heretic or a holy fool.

The people who matter are not necessarily the power elite, or the heroic self-transcenders; they could also be the people you live with every day and you don't want to randomly annoy. It could even include random strangers, as a matter of principle.

Note that I said you shouldn't "accidentally" offend anyone. Deliberate offense can have merit, if done to the right person in the right way at the right time. But I insist on precision dissing; no bystanders. And it's best done with tough-love in your heart. And be prepared for the consequences. It's those consequences that, in practice, define the people who matter.

Paradoctor said...

Getting back to Leslie's post: I am conflicted about the word 'bitch'. The trouble is that it means several things. "Bitch" is a female dog; or an annoying woman; or the act of complaining. The first and the third I like.

I've known and loved many female dogs, including sweet Fayaway of my childhood, and smart Jackie of my adolescence. I adored those bitches. Why do people diss dogs, who are mostly better than most people?

I do get the objection to meaning 2. It's a vile insult, and punching down. Using that verbal assault is foul play, because there isn't an equivalent male counterpart, so how is she to diss back?

And as for the verb 'to bitch', I _like_ to bitch. I _enjoy_ bitching. And just because the word's polluted by meaning 2, I'm not _supposed_ to bitch, I'm not _allowed_ to bitch, and it just isn't fair!!!

See what I mean? But it's all right; I am still allowed to whinge, which feels just as good.

Alchemystudiosink said...

there are male counterparts.

dick, bastard are two that spring to mind

Leslie Fish said...

The purpose of "manners" is to avoid fights. If you ever doubt this, go to a rough biker bar and watch two equally-tough badasses approach each other; within their own cultural standards, they'll be as formal as medieval Japanese courtiers. You'll also note that their standards of "politeness" have quite direct and logical applications to the avoidance of fights; holding one's empty hands in plain view is a pretty obvious standard, and so is keeping one's hands away from one's belt or pockets. That's how, and why, "politeness" is supposed to work.

What we're seeing with the Politically Correct crowd is politeness stood on its head, weaponized, and made into excuses to fight instead of means of avoiding the same. It's sticking an ornate chip on one's shoulder and tromping around looking for somebody to knock it off. This is not manners but bullying, and deserves to be stopped fast.

Paradoctor said...

I have had three professional run-ins with PC snowflake-protection. Two were not a serious threat to my employment, one was. The first two were at the community college with a strong union and messy governance, which has successfully fought off an attempted takeover by an accreditation board. The third was at the state college, with weaker union and centralized governance, which has already rolled over for the accreditors. The first two were student-driven, the last was administration-driven.

For the first one, I had gotten audibly confused, before the class, about a student's name and gender; the student being in mid M to F transition. The student complained to the dean; I admitted the confusion; the dean shrugged it off; I addressed that student by last name from then on; and the student dealt with personal anger issues elsewhere.

For the second one, I made an ill-advised joke to a student. She thought that my half-witticism about the oscillations of sexual morality was too Freudian, and she complained to the dean. The dean called me in; I admitted that Freudianism is quaint and antiquated, for there are many primal drives just as irrationally cyclic as the sexual; for instance, the drive to domination, and the drive to acquisition, and the drive to conformity. I added that I repudiate the Freudianism, but I stand by my cynicism. I cited for proof Al Franken's banishment from the Senate for a stupid USO prank photo, and pedophiliac Roy Moore's close race for the Senate. The dean took my point. The student no longer attended class; she submitted homework and final through the dean til the end of the semester. I saw her once, just after Roy Moore was defeated in the Senate. I walked in and apologized for my cynicism about Franken and Moore; the judgement was, counter to my expectation, relatively consistent. I said that I didn't _want_ to make pedophilia jokes for the next six years, but if Moore had been elected then I would have _had_ to, out of patriotic duty. But thanks to the voters of Alabama, I was spared that necessity. She took no exception to this comment.

The first; trivial. The second; more serious, but contained.

But the third, now. This was at the other college, the one ruled by a single Chancellor, who runs it on a business model. The accreditors recently rolled through, leaving middle-management terror in its wake. Also more middle-management hiring, and more middle-mismanagement. One day I was sitting in the bookstore office, waiting for the man in charge to show up. I was mad because book orders had not come through. As I sat there, I stewed and fulminated. A student worker heard me cussing, and got scared, and reported it. Soon I got called into the office of the dean, who is terrorized middle-management. I was in trouble, and must visit with her to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources; and this was not only for the scary-cussing-in-I-thought-private charge, but also egregious bad-attitude and flawed compliance about certain ultra-important paperwork. I had to pinky-swear, to the Vice Chancellor, to submit all the oh-so-important student notification forms _electronically_to_the_department_, not on paper to the students! Silly me, I had got those priorities reversed!

This one: serious, but the student's eavesdropped fright was an excuse; this was about bureaucratic compliance.

So the score is: two of three, PC as sex-politics code negotiation. Kept under control because administration and most of the students have better things to do. One of three, PC as overclass bullying. This comes top-down, as a method of control.

Technomad said...

I have good reasons to dislike people who weaponize the threat of hurting their oh-so-easily-hurt feelings. I had to put up with too much of that sh*t growing up. I am always as polite as I know how to be, but someone who tries to take advantage of that to run roughshod over me is in for a surprise.

Alchemystudiosink said...

@Para - What you're doing there is blaming the gun for the actions of the person behind the gun. Now it may be possible that the vice chancellor did dislike you for some reason and wanted to find a reason to hammer you down a little, but for the most part from listening to things you say, you're not a nail that sticks out too far.

Tyranny of the Victim isn't where the person themselves confronts you. They get White Knights to join them, a mob of people, or people with authority to act on their behalf. Or some combination there of.

They're the kind of people who weaponize the phrase "The customer is always right." and fling it around with reckless abandon as they demand to see someone's manager.

If you look at what they're doing with the NRA, with people going "Its your fault NRA! All of these shootings are your fault!" but never once consider putting blame on the gunman or law enforcement that have on multiple occasions allowed these things to happen despite clear warnings. Nope. Its the people who respect the rules and advocate for proper fire arm use and safety and anyone who associates with them.

Its not the words that are used that are the important thing. Its the behavior of people. And if you look through history, you'll see lots of times when the words changed, but the behaviors were the same.

You'd have little sneaky people running around reporting to the church that someone is a witch or what not. They'd get the church involved or get like-minded mob justice villages together so that they could burn the witch.

Leslie Fish said...

I've seen certain nasty students raise up lynch-mobs against some teacher or other on the grounds of racism-sexism-homophobia-etc. just because they were in danger of failing the course and wanted to discredit the teacher before they flunked. I know one clever teacher who took pre-emptive action by calculating which students were likely to cause problems and reporting them to the dean in advance, and another who took care to covertly video/audiotape all her classes and office meetings. Yes, that worked.

Alchemystudiosink said...

This video here seems to be talking about similar