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When I was in college in the early 1990's, there was still pressure, albeit small, to disallow certain texts, like those written by Faulkner, from being taught. The reason given by those seeking injunction was because of the pervasive use of the word 'nigger' in his novels. Of course, this movement completely ignored the fact that Faulkner was one of the greatest documentarians of the southern social structure that dehumanized and executed any African American at the drop of a hat - and that this consistent thread to his stories was the point, was lost on far too many people... [Just read 'A Light in August' if you need a primer].

I came of age in a world that not only refused to talk about race, but also refused to really talk about bigotry. And in that world, I made a choice that it was more important to talk about those things, because they exist around us everyday.

As if you couldn't tell from my sig, I'm a huge fan of Harvey Milk. His call for everyone to come out resounds so strongly with me. Bigotry cannot happen if everything is brought to the town square. Not only will people understand their 'soft' bigotry, but the true bigots will ultimately be laughed away - and they can choose to change or not.

Yet, for many, the problem is how we still use language.

On the one hand, we still give credence to words that are supposed to induce fear, inferiority, deference. On the other, we are afraid to use those words when others imply them, because we are too 'polite' to point that out.

Very early in my time here, in 2004, I was actively involved in discussions about the use of language dealt with in the rules regarding bigotry. I've always been a proponent of language reclamation. I think in many respects, there is no more powerful thing in language than to either take back a word used for denigration and claim it as an empowering word, or, to recognize the underlying bigotry in an utterance & then show the person what they are either intentionally or unintentionally saying by escalating it to bigoted language.

Of course, the problem here, is translation. These techniques rarely work on the internet & it quickly becomes a shitshow. But in real life, these techniques can be very effective - and have been used extensively historically.

While I would never use slurs in random comments on the internet, I embrace them in real life - and say them situationally. I'm a bisexual male and am happy to be a cocksucker. I'm a feminist and extol the values of being a cunt. I'm a huge Patti Smith fan, and consider myself a rock n' roll nigger.

We believe the words themselves have the power. But the intent of the words is the expression of power. If we take away the power of the words, and more importantly, show those who skirt them that they are actually still saying them - calling out the bigots for what they are - that's the end of bigotry.

We should throw those words at them. Every time some idiot talks about 'welfare queens', it should be thrown back in their face that they are using a euphemism for [pardon me] 'lazy niggers'. The more we use polite language to argue against outright bigots, the more we allow them to pretend they aren't. The more we allow the media narrative to ignore what is the underlying meaning of the euphemism, the more we allow bigotry to exist in a calm, domestic manner.

We cannot shy away from the use of language that actually exposes the problem. It has to be in the toolbox.

Originally posted to lucid on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 11:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

    by lucid on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 11:41:36 PM PDT

  •  reminds me (13+ / 0-)

    of the lenny bruce monologue- "are there an (n word) here tonight?"

    You almost punched me out, didn't you? Well, I was just trying to make a point, and that is that it's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness.
    i won't quote more because i don't want to offend anyone, and i do think that's also part of the point. if people are offended by bigoted language that refers to their demographic and not mine, i have to respect their feelings.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 12:42:52 AM PDT

    •  For Me Things Like Faulkner & Twain (16+ / 0-)

      should stand as is and not be changed. And they should be taught, if the teacher wants to teach them.

      But I am a white, straight dude. Not a lot of slurs you can use against me. I guess maybe cracker (which I find funny more than insulting BTW), but not many more. With other minority groups (and even women) there are a lot of them that often have a long historical context related to them.

      I don't recall where I saw it, but it was a long monologue about why he as an African American can use the "n" word and I can not.

      The guy ended it by asking how many African Americans, before they were lynched or murdered, that was the last word they heard?

      That is why you can't use that word and I can.

      That seemed to make sense to me.

      •  any good teacher (15+ / 0-)

        will put them in context- same with merchant of venice, or numerous other examples. but lucid is particularly accurate that anyone offended by faulkner's use of the real language of the people he was depicting entirely misses the point, because his entire message was about the rot of southern white culture.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 12:53:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And Same With Twain. I Totally Agree (10+ / 0-)

          I don't like the use of that word now, but alas if you are telling the story of say the world in the South in the 60s, I don't know how you tell that story without using the word.

          There is a story I tell I am not that proud of. My grandparents (no longer with us) used the "n" word all the time. I recall the early 90s, I was like 22, telling my grandfather that word was not appropriate. That I found it offensive. He asked me if calling them negros would make me happy?

          I was like nope, I think you need to get with the times. How about just talking about them as people. This seemed to confuse him.

          I tell this story cause, and this is something I rant about all the time, it wasn't that long ago (maybe even today in some circles) open racism was OK. Allowed. There are many African Americans alive today that were not allowed service. Couldn't sit at the counter and eat lunch.

          I know I am speaking to the choir here, but racism isn't so far off concept that happened 500 years ago.

          That a person of color might be a little sensentive about this use of that word, well I don't find that strange in the least.

          •  I grew up with a grandmother (5+ / 0-)

            whose only warning to my brother when he went off to northern Africa in the Peace Corps was 'Don't come back with a brown woman'.

            My father's side of the family was just as bad - and so are their kids. But, my Dad was a welfare worker for a time in Gary, IN in the late 1950's & then became a civil rights advocate.

            We were raised differently.

            But what always bristled my spine when I was growing up was the latent racism - not just the explicit racism of my extended family - but the polite way in which racism was still excused by my parents.

            They're in their late '70's now. I'm not going to change them. But I think we have to expose the latent racism that still dominates our society & I don't think we can if we're polite, like my parents were.

            “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

            by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:30:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I Know I Changed My Parents On This (8+ / 0-)

              My parents are rock stars. They never forced their views down my throat. Let me figure stuff out for myself.

              Now I am not sure they were ever racist, but not so good on the issue either. I have pushed here 24/7. I don't push with them on much, they are my parents, but this is an issue I do. Oh and same sex marriage (I am straight).

              My brother married into a huge family not that long ago. Honestly, his wives family might be racist.

              I recall sitting at Thanksgiving dinner at her dad's house. 2007 and the primary for the POTUS on the top-of-mind for everybody (oh this is IL BTW).

              My brother isn't as liberal as I am, but liberal. He begged me not to get into it with his wives family.

              Her father starts to say Obama isn't an American. Born in Kenya. He is a Muslim. He won't say the Pledge of Alligence.

              I was like this can't stand and started to say something. I felt my dad's hand on my arm, he said:

              I'll take this.
              Undressed the man, in a polite manner, saying he knew not what he talked about.
              •  My sisters and brothers (4+ / 0-)

                and their spouses are pretty much like me... But every extended family reunion - hell.

                And I must hold my tongue in the name of diplomacy - but I'm so sick of that.

                “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

                by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 02:15:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  In the South (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NearlyNormal, Marko the Werelynx

                  My folks don't use the N word, and I don't think they ever did. Other relatives did, but in our house it was considered low-class to use it.

                  When segregation was legally done away with there were a whole lot of Southerners who were thankful. They now had a legitimate cover to integrate their stores, and so on. Before that they would have been shunned for doing so; now they blame it on "the gubmit" and actually practice the integration they believed in.

                  A Lot of Northerners don't know that.

                  As a young man I remember talking to people and, even when we were not in earshot of anyone else, they would drop the volume of their speech when saying something like, "He's black." In fact, it still happens today. It's as if they feel it would make them sound like a racist if they mention someone's race, so they say it very quietly. An odd thing when you think about it. They were making a thing about it by saying it softly, which tickles the edge of racism.

                  Dashiell Hammett wrote an autobiographic sketch about his time as a Continental Op, and he described an inter-company APB sent to all ops. It described a wanted felon down to the color of his eyes, but forgot to include that he had only one arm. I wonder if the person who dictated the APB dropped their voice when they mentioned the one-armedness of the hunted man, and the person writing the Bulletin didn't hear them.

                  "Political correctness" never bothered me like it does some folks because it's mainly just good manners. If a group wants to be called African-American my reaction is Sure, glad to. If they change and want to be called Black, sure why not. The whole race thing seemed artificial and contrived to me, and I wasn't surprised to read reports from science that show that is indeed the case. "Races" don't exist, except in people's minds.

                  A Southerner in Yankeeland

                  To save your life read "Pity The Billionaire" by Thomas Frank, and "Winner-Take-All-Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. Then read more books.

                  by A Southerner in Yankeeland on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:32:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  something similar (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marko the Werelynx

                I said, 'how can you take him out in public?"

            •  The purpose of exclusionary injunctions is to (6+ / 0-)

              exercise control over the included, to keep kith and kin from interacting with the designated "other" -- to, metaphorically speaking, keep the children at home under the paternal thumb and working for the authority.
              Segregation isn't about the people shut out; it's about the people shut in. That's the beauty of it. The people shut out bear the cost of being denied the freedom to associate, perambulate and sustain themselves, and the people shut in consider themselves privileged and cared for as they are being exploited by their own kind.
              There is a reason segregated societies are economically and intellectually backwards. Such communities place a higher value on obedience and subservience than they do on creativity and achievement. Moreover, their self-directed off-spring eventually flee, taking their talents and energies with them. But, the left-behind are self-satisfied. They get to pretend to be somebody without having anything much to show for it.
              The culture of obedience aims to become dominant because misery likes company. It looks to be spreading because birds of a feather flock together. But, I strongly suspect it's largely desperation that's creating that impression. The culture of obedience is aging.

              •  I always love your comments (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Marko the Werelynx

                And yes, I agree - 'othering' is very much about instilling order within the group that does it.

                “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

                by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 08:48:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Segregated societies (0+ / 0-)

                "segregated societies are economically and intellectually backwards"

                Which are the segregated societies from which you draw this conclusion?

                modern Israel?
                Al-Andalus?
                Medieval Europe vis-s-vis the Jews?
                Tang or Qing China?
                The U.S.A.? [when, precisely?]

                •  It is not a constant state. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NearlyNormal

                  However:

                  Chile in the 1950s
                  Florida and Mississippi and Alabama in the 1970s
                  Alpine Austria in the 1940s
                  Zimbabwe currently
                  North Korea currently

                  •  Not much of a general rule (0+ / 0-)

                    For Chile in the 1950s, the economy grew pretty much steadily.
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                    Mississippi and Alabama were backwards economies in the 1970s (and Mississippi's still is), but Florida was doing just fine overall, with per capita income well ahead of, say, Massachusetts from 1970 forward: http://www.census.gov/....
                    Of course today it is trailing just about everybody, but I doubt that segregation or its absence is much of a factor: http://www.miamiherald.com/...

                    Seems strange to attribute such explanatory power to segregation in Austria in the '40s. WW II and German invasion and Nazi occupation might just have had some retarding influence on both economics and intellectual life, as might the totalitarian dictatorship of N. Korea and tyranny in Zimbabwe. Segregation just may not be the first cause of their pitiful conditions.

                    And in contrast with these examples, we still have the ones
                    I put forward originally, all of which may well have been segregated societies, but that fact does not seem to have slowed them down a great deal. I don't think that there is any discoverable general rule causally linking segregation to economic or intellectual backwardness.

                    •  I think Hannah made a good observation (0+ / 0-)

                      with respect to the American South during periods when people were able to leave for other parts of the same country, where the same language was spoken. Other countries and historical periods - say, slavery-based ancient Athens - don't present the same conditions.

                    •  Much depends on whether "economy" is defined (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Marko the Werelynx

                      functionally, as the exchange of goods and services, as opposed to extortion, or as evidenced by the use of currency to mediate transactions.
                      Indigenous Chileans were an exploited and extorted population in the early fifties. I know because I was there.
                      Numbers make it easy to count things, but they don't account for all the things left out.

                      •  Please stick to your own argument, (0+ / 0-)

                        which made the general, unqualified claim that "segregated societies are economically and intellectually backwards." As stated, this fails on multiple grounds. IMO, your best course would be to cut this argument loose as a one of those ideas that didn't pan out.

                        Instead, now you want to amend the argument to, "Segregated societies which exploit and extort the segregated are economically and intellectually backward"? And you add now to that, "extortion," which you wish to posit as existing wherever we find "the use of currency"?

                        OK. On those grounds (IMO ludicrous, but what the heck), then all societies of which we have any knowledge, whether segregated or not, practice extortion, since they use currency. If that's the case, then we eliminate extortion either as a cause of anything in particular, or as a result of anything particular (e.g. segregation) precisely because it's a universal feature, and so cannot be responsible for any differentiation.

                        So, that reduces us to, "Segregated societies which exploit the segregated are economically and intellectually backward"?
                        And that leaves you still with no explanation of anything at all, unless you have, to begin with, some non-monetary way of showing that in 1970s Florida, contemporary Israel, or medieval Europe the "exchange of goods and services" suffered. And then you would need to tie that to as-yet-undefined 'exploitation.' Have you got a way to do this?

      •  Any word can be used for any reaason (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding, aitchdee, Ian Reifowitz

        What I allude to is the way we give specific words power to express dominance in a social relationship - and a different response to how we handle them - namely, tossing those words back in the face of those who seek to demean any of us. And further, using those words to point out to those who don't use them, that they're still using them implicitly.

        The only reason we cannot address the issue of difference in this world is because we let other people talk about it - who, for the most part, have serious agendas - that more often than not are seriously racist.

        “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

        by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:10:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I do to (5+ / 0-)

      Which is why I don't use those words in polite company unless it is fully understood why I am using them. But I used them in this diary because I think we need to use them more - to point out the latent bigotry and expose the true haters.

      Our politeness has allowed people like Steve King to 'politely' live in congress for years, despite being an unreconstructed racist.

      Our 'politeness' allows our neighbors to think their not bigots, when they actually are.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 12:52:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  they're, rather... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz, Mickquinas

        “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

        by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 12:54:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I Only Use The Word With A Handful Of People (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lucid, aitchdee, Ian Reifowitz, No Exit

        when I am pointing out the racism of somebody quoting what they said/wrote, but with people that know that is the ONLY reason I use it. Those are all white folks.

        I would never use the word around my African American friends (nor here cause I have no idea who is reading what I write). I can try to understand the context and history of the word, but no matter how hard I try I can never understand the pain it causes. I find if nothing else, it is just polite.

        Now I am not remotely slamming you for using it, cause there is a large part of me that thinks people need to read the full word. Just like if somebody calls a women a c*nt they need to read the full, hateful word.

        But I find myself unable to do it ....

        •  See comment below (4+ / 0-)

          I struggled too - I first published the diary redacted, but we can't really start this conversation unless we can actually talk about the words - and more importantly, use them to call out the people that need to be called out.

          “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

          by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:37:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  i do pause (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        webranding, aitchdee, lucid, Ian Reifowitz

        because some in this community may be offended, although you explain your use very clearly. the lenny bruce monologue is brilliant because it is so offensive at first, and takes in a wide swath, including vicious bigot words for his own demographic, and ends quite sensitively, but i still wouldn't quote it fully here. i also can't find a full text- there's one that looks complete, but isn't.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 12:59:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My first version of the diary (3+ / 0-)

          was --- for all of the words. I know this place well. But, I revised it with the full words because I think they need to be said, read and written.

           

          “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

          by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:34:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I have two powerfully conflicting desires: (7+ / 0-)

    To cause no pain to others by my words, and, at the same time, to resist--demonstrably, and with all my might, even if it means I am misunderstood and hated for it--any move from any quarter to chain up the language, my first and deepest love.

    There's a world of tension between these aims, and I am not always true to either of them. I am frequently un-brave. Capitulating. From time to time I've thought I might try to discuss these things with folks here on the blog, but the anticipated fallout always seemed to daunt me ... and truly, I haven't wanted to hurt my friends.

    Which is why I'm so impressed with this diary. You've managed to speak your truth with gentleness and dignity, holding tensions that have always thrown me. Well done. Write more.

    God bless our tinfoil hearts.

    by aitchdee on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:21:37 AM PDT

    •  Words Have Meaning And Power (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, lucid, Ian Reifowitz

      now I often abuse our language with my usage, but I try hard to choose my words in an intelligent manner. I have the same conflict you noted.

      I mentioned in another comment here my grandparents. We had another interaction on this level. One of them was a rich man and said if I graduated from college with honors he'd buy me a car (1990).

      I told him what I wanted and he said:

      That is a Jap car. Those folks shot me (he was a HUMP pilot). I would never buy you one of those.
      I found that slur troublesome. Or that he'd never buy anything made by an entire nation. But I can't get away from his experiences and our government during WWII used that word in "pro-war" posters.
    •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, boriskamite, Ian Reifowitz

      That means a lot. I agonized about posting this. It's a combination of a few comments that I made at the end of the 'bigotry rules' diary on the rec list that I decided to get more explicit with because I think there is a good point there.

      I don't want to offend either. But I also want to make a strong point that bigoted language can be used to good ends - and we might need to think about that more.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 01:46:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This diarist is a plagiarist. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid, Marko the Werelynx

    This diarist directly lifted the concepts of this diary from South Park.

    You should be ashamed!

    Short verion. (Bike Curious)

    Full Episode. (The F-Word)

    Seriously. Watch the full episode. You're welcome.


    "Politeness is wasted on the dishonest, who will always take advantage of any well-intended concession." - Barrett Brown

    by 3rdOption on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 05:30:51 AM PDT

    •  I think thats a little harsh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee

      I've never seen a single episode of South Park and I've been familiar with these concepts for many. many years.  I suspect that South Park writers got this notion from somewhere and used it.

      75534 4-ever or until dk5

      by NearlyNormal on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 07:39:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  These ideas are a lot older than (5+ / 0-)

      South Park...

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 08:50:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It could simply be a case of great minds (0+ / 0-)

      thinking alike, or whatever that saying is.

    •  -10 points to anyone who actually thought I was... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lucid, Brecht

      ...accusing the diarist of plagiarism.

      Step 1) Read the diary.

      Step 2) Watch the South Park episode.

      Step 3) Chuckle a lot.

      Step 4) Advertise your Harley on eBay, or at least buy a real muffler for it.

      Step 5) Lighten up, Francis.


      "Politeness is wasted on the dishonest, who will always take advantage of any well-intended concession." - Barrett Brown

      by 3rdOption on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 09:48:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I got it immediately (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3rdOption, Brecht

        Always loved that episode...

        “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

        by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 09:52:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The night that it premiered... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marko the Werelynx

          ...I emailed it to a relative, who had taken an old frame and built his own Harley, with straight freakin' pipes.

          I rode it once, around two blocks, and my ears were ringing. Severely.

          Two priceless lines, from the same clip:

          This...this is making insanely good sense to me.
          and
          Bike-Curious
          When Matt and Trey are good, they're very, very good.


          "Politeness is wasted on the dishonest, who will always take advantage of any well-intended concession." - Barrett Brown

          by 3rdOption on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 10:58:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I've often made the same argument about the (6+ / 0-)

    word "faggot", which I often use to describe myself because, like you, I'm a cocksucker, though a thorough-going one--I'm not bisexual.

    In all seriousness, you make a good point: hateful words need context, not the pretension that they don't exist.

    I resent that. I demand snark, and overly so -- Markos Moulitsas.

    by commonmass on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 07:59:55 AM PDT

    •  Within the gay community in NY at least (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, aitchdee

      'fag' and 'cocksucker' are used routinely as badges of honor.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 08:53:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some words are just beyond the pale. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    I will use "nigger" and "faggot" without censorship IFF I am quoting someone else.  The other two words I can't even bring myself to type, but that probably speaks to my prude streak regarding terms with sexual implications.

    •  They're never easy to use (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee

      but I do think they can have positive use in both contexts - to either lessen their power, or point out when someone expressing and idea that implies them without saying them.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 08:57:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course using "beyond the pale" itself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee

      is beyond the pale, according to a diary right here at DailyKos a few months ago.

      tsk tsk.

  •  This video (0+ / 0-)

    in my (community) college classes, when teaching slam poetry/spoken word, one of the assignments is for students to go out on the Internets and find some work of slam or spoken word poetry...Almost every semester, one of my students brings this one in.

    •  whoops, was the video too big or why didn't it (0+ / 0-)

      post

      (If it doesn't work this time: google "julian curry" Niggers Niggas and Niggaz)

      •  That's a good one - thanks for posting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grumpelstillchen

        “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

        by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 09:03:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Louis CK explains why he's uncomfortable reading (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lucid

          Huck Finn to his daughters - but also why the N-word is essential to the story.

          Here you can watch 4 minutes of stand-up, about reading Tom Sawyer to his daughters - because he can't read Huck Finn, and sit on his daughter's bed, saying the N-word all night. Unfortunately, in the middle of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn turns up. Carrying a dead cat.

          But the real substantial discussion about the N-word in Twain comes in a 17 minute radio interview. Just skip the first 4 minutes, which you already watched. The discussion includes Ronald Reagan, a great Twain quote on censorship, a publisher who wants to remove the N-word from Huck Finn, and someone who calls in to complain about them using the N-word too much.

          Thanks for a sound and thoughtful diary, lucid.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 02:38:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Will check those out (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brecht

            “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

            by lucid on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:28:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Bad HTML (0+ / 0-)

      YouTube spews out this garbage when you request the embed code:

      <object width="420" height="315"><param name="movie" value="/www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/wD-UpHlB9no?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/wD-UpHlB9no?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="420" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>
      Daily Kos v.4.0 doesn't know what to do with all those extra forward 'slashes' /.

      If you go back to your comment after pasting the bad embed code and simply add http: before the slashes (which occur twice in the embed code) DK will wake up and realize you're trying to access YouTube.

      The corrected code looks like this:

      <object width="420" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/wD-UpHlB9no?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http:/www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/wD-UpHlB9no?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="420" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>
      Here's your video with the embed code corrected:

      I think JekyllnHyde first pointed this out to me when I had my own bewildering encounter with YouTube stupidity.

  •  You bring up a good point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid

    I feel that people of color have so little power to shape the narrative sometimes, that reclamation of hateful words can be a useful tool.
    But I still hope that the long-term result is that the words will fall out of favor by any group once bigotry starts to die as well.

    "We need institutions and cultural norms that make us better than we tend to be. It seems to me that the greatest challenge we now face is to build them." -Sam Harris, neuroscientist

    by MarthaPeregrine on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 09:12:13 AM PDT

    •  I don't know if they'll eventually fall (0+ / 0-)

      out of usage - though it's very possible. But, as the cultural context changes I hope, at the very least, that they lose any power to actually denigrate. As generations of people pass away that have strong emotional attachments & reactions to the words pass away, I think that is inevitable. It may take a while.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 09:24:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess that thought also introduces the (0+ / 0-)

        real question too. Do we as a society introduce new terms that still carry all of the old power, or do we evolve to a point where we stop trying to use language to exert power & demean?

        “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

        by lucid on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 10:08:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  refusal to talk about hands victory over... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid
    I came of age in a world that not only refused to talk about race, but also refused to really talk about bigotry. And in that world, I made a choice that it was more important to talk about those things, because they exist around us everyday.
    The roaches will always win if you turn off the lights.
  •  I like the Rastafari method on language (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid, liz, Marko the Werelynx, aitchdee

    Read through a lexicon of Rastafarian terms and what you will see is a carefully scripted list of redefinitions alongside original words all crafted to call out racial and social injustice at every level.

    Rasta terminology doesn't just begin with reclamation of hateful words. It takes the next steps and inserts its own set of word modifiers, preposition changes, redefinitions, re-spellings, and so on - modifying language at every level such that words on the surface will 'sound like something familiar' but be different.

    Often as simple as the term 'downpression', because putting a people down has no 'up' in it... Ie: make the word used for that situation more truthful to what is going on. Or replacing first person pronouns with 'I' across the board, to make a speaker mentally own their words, and 'I and I' to cause a person to speak not just then and there, but also with a thought to their inner self.

    On first hear, the Rasta lexicon will seem curious and strange, but because of its own internal consistency, it starts to 'stick' and invades the language with a new perspective, making it hard for the speaker to to think about the world in terms other than social justice. :)

    Thus, as its words have spread throughout Afro-Caribbean communities, people have been uplifted into seeing what is going on around them by having a language that opens their minds by its very words.

    This is all done alongside word reclamation, which allows words like 'natty' and 'dread' to become powerful terms for self-pride that even those who once used them to derogate can no longer manage to say without respect.

    Word reclamation by itself, without a larger agenda, a larger context, does not give that word a new power... you've got to double it with a whole lingo that forces even the other side to speak on your terms, or to at least think on your terms when they hear you.

  •  "Teabagger" is one word (0+ / 0-)

    I feel in no need to contextualize.

    •  It's so appropriate too (0+ / 0-)

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:28:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I watched "42" last night and without the (0+ / 0-)

    word, the movie would have lost much of its power. The scene when Ben Chapman berates Jackie Robinson over and over is one of the most powerful scenes in any movie I have seen. Seeing the movie after reading Ian Reifowitz's diary made the scene even more emotional and thought provoking. As a white woman I cannot know what it feels like to have such hatred flung at me, but watching 42 came as close as it is possible to feel what it must be like.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 05:45:18 AM PDT

    •  I have yet to see it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat

      but it's definitely on my list. One of the guiding forces of my youth was the famous 'Eyes on the Prize' documentary. I was around 11 or so when it aired & it really opened my eyes to the problem of bigotry [racial & otherwise]. I'm glad my parents had a rule that I could only watch PBS & sports growing up...

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:31:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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