Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Racist" has become hate speech

I read this story of a 12 year old girl being called racist by her classmates for wearing a Sarah Palin T-shirt and wondered: Has Racist become the new N-word?
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — She’s only 12 years old but Ashleigh Jones is feeling the heat of this election year.

That’s because the seventh grader at New Smyrna Beach Middle School was called a racist by classmates for wearing a pro-Sarah Palin t-shirt.

Jones is volunteering at the Republican Headquarters in New Smyrna Beach. The Palin t-shirt was a gift from her fellow volunteers. But when she wore it to school she learned just how tough politics can be.

“Some of the students were calling me racist because I was Caucasian,” she said. “I wanted the Caucasian man to win. And I told them that’s not true. It’s my freedom of speech, it’s my opinion.”

"Racist" is thrown around today like that other word was decades ago. It is meant to stop discussion in its tracks by placing the user in a position of power, either racial or moral; and to put the target of the word on the defensive. The shock effect of both words is used to deliberately cause offense.

I was surprised to find that the definition of Hate Speech at Wiki applies to the use of racist in this context.
Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, moral or political views, socioeconomic class, occupation or appearance (such as height, weight, and hair color), mental capacity and any other distinction that might be considered by some as a liability.
It is no secret that the use of identical words will be considered acceptable from the lips of leftist and socialist Democrats, but is called racist when expressed by conservative or moderate Republicans.

Real racist words and actions have become so rare today that the word has lost any meaning. It was a mere 20 years ago that my boss in Alabama told me not to shop at a certain store because it was a "nigger shack." It was also there that my African-American co-worker was told to drive the opposite way when he stopped and asked for directions. That was and is racism. Wearing a Sarah Palin T-shirt is not racism.

Racist is now tossed around as a way of saying, "Shut up. I'm not listening. You are wrong." Today's whiners and race-baiters have never experienced racism and do not know what it is.

If the R-word gets thrown at you, do not passively take it. Call out this hate speech for what it is.

1 comment:

Joffan said...

Of course, calling "hate speech" is another way that people try to shut down conversations. Every time I look, the definition gets broader, and I expect the day when I can't ask someone the time without being accused of hate speech. Am I trying to degrade them by implying that they don't know how to tell time, can't afford a watch, live in a different time zone, or other equally hypersensitive overinterpretation?

OK, enough ranting by me. Your central point is correct, that "racist" is sometimes just a way of saying "fuck off" (which itself is divorced from its sexual origins).