Wednesday, May 20, 2009

use clichés that trivialize mass oppression

It seems to me that those who object to what they call "political correctness" usually do so when someone points out that the careless use of a word or term is wrong.

For instance, I've been accused of being a member of "the PC police" for objecting to the casual use of the word "Nazi" to complain about somebody who's too strict or demanding. I've also been accused of being overly concerned with political correctness for objecting to a white friend's complaint that his boss is a "slavedriver."

The "Nazi" usage happened again yesterday. I was at a public lecture, and as usual, the speaker was introduced by another person. Before doing the introduction, this person warned those of us with cars to be very diligent about feeding the area's parking meters. This was necessary because, she said, the "parking people around here are total Nazis."

I found this comment jolting. She'd been setting a good tone for the event so far, by welcoming us all with a smile and a joke about the weather. But then she dropped what was for me a sort of bomb.

One hundred or so other people were in the audience, and she'd already moved into introducing the speaker by the time that word had fully registered with me. So it didn't even occur to me to raise my hand or stand up to ask, "Why, exactly, did you label the parking people 'Nazis'?"

But maybe I should have. I suppose most people would've found me rather weird, and annoying, and unnecessarily disruptive. But some might have agreed, and others might have gone on to reconsider their own use of that word, "Nazi," to describe people who aren't actually Nazis.

So just what is it that I think is wrong with this usage?

It's not just that these terms, when used for relatively trivial complaints, are stale, worn-out clichés.

It's also not just the literal inaccuracy of the term, and others like it. That is, it's not the mere fact that those issuing tickets for overdue parking meters were not really Nazis. Nor is the problem with my friend's use of the term "slavedriver" to describe his boss the fact that he's actually free to quit his job whenever he likes. It's not even the fact that his boss doesn't treat him with anywhere near the levels of disdain, cruelty, and entrapment that actual slavedrivers routinely deployed.

Instead, the problem is that when we use terms like "parking Nazis," or "feminazi," or "schedule Nazi," or "wedding Nazi" and so on, to describe ordinary people, we're trivializing the horrors of what the Nazis actually did, especially their calculated, systematic slaughter of millions of people.

In the same way, complaining that your boss is a "slavedriver" or that you "worked like a slave today" trivializes the horrific realities of slavery. In both cases, there's really no comparison.

This is a type of "white whine" that needs to be retired.

Can you think of other examples?

Do you say anything when you hear these types of minor complaints, which trivialize mass oppression?

I certainly hope you don't think instead that I'm just being a "PC Nazi."


  1. I stopped using the "Nazi" word casually years ago when I worked in a youth hostel: I made some comment, to a co-worker whilst we were at the front check-in counter, that someone was "a Nazi" (I don't remember what it was in reference to). I said this in earshot of a guest--an Israeli Jew. She turned around, with a look of fear that I have never seen on anyone's face at that time in my life, and said, "Who, who is a Nazi? Is there a Nazi checked in here?" I was taken aback by how genuinely frightened she was. (She was not familiar with how some of us Americans toss around the "so-and-so is a Nazi" for some of the hardasses whom we encounter.) I did manage to calm her down, and I told her that there was no Nazi checked into the hostel. As well, my co-worker and I explained how flippantly "Nazi" is used by Americans. From that day on, I don't label anyone(s) a Nazi, unless the label truly fits that person--and those occassions since have been rare to none.

  2. From AlJazeera English:
    Biden visit sparks anger in Serbia"But nationalist parties urged the former US senator to leave the country, holding up signs with slogans such as "Biden, you Nazi scum, go home" during a parliamentary session.

    Nationalists accuse Biden of being the chief advocate of Nato's [sic] bombing of Serbia in 1999 over the Kosovo conflict, and also resent his lobbying for Bosnian Muslims in their 1992-5 fight against Bosnian Serbs."

  3. Completely agreed with this post!

    Renee wrote a post titled "I Don’t Believe In PC Speech" last month...

    How did being allegedly "PC" become so tainted? I am not a "PC Nazi", as I like to think I'm actually quite nice and nazis definitely weren't nice, in fact I don't think I'm "PC anything" and I don't think you are either.

    I don't think being "politically correct" should be called out, instead those being disrespectful and ignorant should be made to see how they are being so.

  4. Can't agree more. Not only is it a ridiculous overestimation of one's own 'suffering', but it makes the true meaning of the word hollow and banal.
    Once when I was visiting a friend in Berlin, a tourist queuing in front of us said something about the baker being a 'total Nazi' for asking him to wait his turn, and then practically fell over himself apologizing for his unhappy choice of words.
    Maybe he'll think twice next time.

  5. Most people that are "against political correctness" are usually just using that as an excuse to act like a bigot. If being tolerant or respectful is indicative of some sort of political correctness, then how come there was ever a Civil Rights movement? How come people had to fight for the right to be treated as human beings?

  6. i don't know if this is at all related, but the other day i met a colleague of my fiance's (he's a third year med student, and we met with one of the doctors), and she used the word "retarded" as an adjective. i have corrected people before in this use, but i was so taken aback by the fact that she's a doctor and used such a word to describe her maybe being stupid, that i just stood there and stared at her.

  7. Cliches are always annoying. The ones you mention above don't bother me so much simply because they are cliches. It does bother me, however, when people use the word "gyp". My mom used that word awhile back and when I asked her how it was spelled, she never used it again. I'm also not comfortable with "white trash" anymore, and it definitely drives me nuts when kids say "fo shizzle my nizzle" and don't know what it means.

  8. Good post. I think I'll have to be sending people here whenever I see them break Godwin's law.

    Gotta love the irony of being called a "PC Nazi" when I'm politely asking someone to stop saying some word like f*g. Yes, I'm the Nazi because I want decency and respect towards gay people. Right. *rolls eyes*

  9. And oh, I just thought of a couple examples, although they might not directly relate to race (but are still clichés trivializing mass oppression).

    People who refer to any consensual plastic surgery as "mutilation" (especially regarding genital surgery) are trivializing systemic nonconsensual mutilation like FGM and sex assignment surgery on intersex infants.

    And people who refer to all hetero sex (with the idea that nobody can truly consent under the patriarchy) and/or all kink/BDSM activity as "rape" are, of course, trivializing and co-opting actual rape.

  10. Great post. There are many examples of this tendency. Referring to several people offering a critique as a "lynch mob," for example.

    I am also annoyed when other Blacks do this sort of thing. At one time the following was really popular, but I still see it cropping up in on-line discussions: spelling the last word of USA as "AmeriKKKa." It is doubtful that anything most of us current day Blacks go through in the US remotely compares to what previous generations suffered at the hands of real KKK members and similar groups--both organized and informal. I consider the grouping of current Black people into "field" and "house" Negros to be a similar annoyance.

    I am also bothered by the casual use of "whore" in compound words. Like, "attention whore," or "bagel whore" or other similar nonsense.

    Oh, I gotta million of these! Usually I just turn off my "offense meter" or else I'd think of nothing but these phrases! LOL

  11. @geopunk - the term rape came to mind for me too. It's also used in other contexts, where even if you agree with the point someone is trying to express - it just isn't OK to call something rape that isn't rape.

    In my mind - there IS such a thing as political correctness, and that would be when someone deliberately alters a telling (or re-telling) of history to fit their own agenda. Ironically (given the typical use of the term PC), this can often be a bigoted agenda.

  12. I find stuff like this so frustrating. I've recently started hanging out with a new crowd of people who throw around racial slurs/sexist/misogynistic comments like it's not super inappropriate and horrible. The other day they were joking about rape, which prompted me to say "Yeah, because rape is fucking hilarious" and then they kind of attacked me for "ruining the fun". I find it exhausting to constantly point out all of the things that they're saying are inappropriate and offensive because they don't seem to be figuring it out :\ or worse, they don't care.

    If they don't start catching on I think I'll need to find new friends.

  13. So, is this blog stuff _only_ white people do? I doubt it, but I just wanted to ask. Because this is definitely not something that applies only to white people. Many people are careless with their speech, and all of them deserve to be called out on it.

    I think if you had asked the woman about it in the manner you described, it is quite likely that you would have come off looking like a weirdo. Not because you are a weirdo, but because that's one of the ways we keep the status quo going--by ridiculing and marginalizing people who attempt to challenge it.

    That being said, if you know her name, it's not too late to find her email address and tell her that you were troubled by her use of that word and that you felt compelled to let her know about it.

  14. I'd just thought of some examples...

    Instead of saying someone's stingey/frugal, the term "jew" is used.

    Instead of saying that one's been cheated/rorted, the term "gypped or gipped" is used.

    You hear a lot of that, especially when you have national socialist black metal (nsbm) types hanging the same places *sigh* no wonder I stay home most of the time...

  15. i've got another one: i've heard my grandfather use the phrase "I n----r rigged it," whenever he fixed something in a half-assed sort of way. not sure where that originated, but i remember my mother calling him out on it (which of course can't be easy, since it's her husband's father).

  16. Thanks Filthy Grandeur, I'd forgotten that one.

    No myblackfriendsays, this isn't necessarily a blog about stuff ONLY white people do. But then, for most of the posts here, maybe it is after all; when white people say, for instance, that their boss is a "slavedriver," that's a different thing from when other people say it. Also, I suspect, but don't know for sure, that while many white and non-white people are careless with their language, almost all of the people who complain about "political correctness" in regards to race-related language are white people (often the ones who also miss the days "when it was just fine to call a spade a spade").

    Thanks for the idea of writing an email to the person who introduced the speaker--I plan to take your advice and do that tomorrow.

  17. I've worked on removing these sorts of words from my usage also. But there are also words that are not clear to everyone. Macon, you mention the "calling a spade a spade" and I've heard people defend that as a reference to playing cards.

    Another is the expression "in a coon's age" (which may be a Northeastern expression; not sure). I've never been able to find the clear etymology on this, but is it about how long raccoons live, or is it a racist reference? I don't use it because it may be interpreted as racist, regardless of definition.

    Finally, the term "niggardly", which comes from a scandanavian word "nig" which means miser or stingy. It actually has no relationship to the n-word, but I still won't use it. 10 years ago, David Howard, who worked for the D.C. Mayor's office, resigned after using the word in conversation with two associates, and a furor erupted. That'll show the nay-sayers how powerful the use of the n-word is today: even use of homonyms upsets a lot of people. I love what Howard, a white man, said about the incident however:

    "I used to think it would be great if we could all be colorblind. That's naive, especially for a white person, because a white person can't afford to be colorblind. They don't have to think about race every day. An African American does."

    It's worth remembering that words are offensive if they are interpreted as offensive by the hearer, not only if they are intended as such by the speaker. I like the Platinum Rule: treat others as they wish to be treated. (This also helps with the White response "hey, I don't care if they call me cracker, so I can call them whatever I want!", which arguably remains true to the Golden Rule.)


  18. Thanks for the examples and references, Peter. Phillip Roth built a whole novel, The Human Stain (which was subsequently Hollywoodized) on a similarly misunderstood word, "spook." I wonder if the Howard incident was Roth's inspiration.

    In the Howard quote you provided, is this part right?

    "because a white person can't afford to be colorblind."

    Should that be "can afford to be"?

  19. This may be picky but the word "rape" comes from Middle English meaning "to seize, carry off by force, plunder," and the sexual violation meaning came later. So when computer techs use the word to apply to stripping a piece of hardware for parts, is it still un-PC (pun intended)?

    I guess you could argue that today the word specifically refers to the sexual violation, but then you could also argue that the word Nazi today has a different meaning than it did in the past.

  20. The quote is directly from the Washington Post article I linked to.

    I read it as saying that a white person can NOT afford to be colorblind because things like what happened to Howard can and do happen. If a white person IS colorblind, they will come into conflict with our culture.

    Certainly, I think, white people can get away with being colorblind, but I think Howard is stating that to have healthy interactions with everyone in our culture, white people cannot afford to be colorblind.

    Do you read it differently? Maybe I missed something in there....?


  21. CKruger:
    i would argue that it's not cool to use it that way either, since the word, while referring to carrying off of something, still refers directly to women (see "brides by capture," the items in question being carried off in plunder were quite often women--yep, women are goods...).

    besides, connotations of words don't always match the denotations. language is a complex and beautiful thing, but it can also get quite ugly.

  22. Thanks for the clarification, Peter. The quotation makes sense to me now.

  23. lame and douchebag are two that are super popular these days. They're not necessarily about "mass oppression" but they do each refer to a certain group of people. I also don't like, psycho or crazy because of my background in mental health--not very accurate descriptors. I prefer mentally unstable. Like, "Danielle on the Real Housewives of New Jersey is mentally unstable."

    Then you can take it one step further with words like moron, dumb and idiot. I'm pretty sure moron and idiot were scientific terms at one point, used to describe someone with a low IQ. Nevertheless they're mean.

    So then that begs the question: How in the hell are you supposed to describe something that you don't like without putting down a certain group of people? These days, I'm going with "sucks", because it doesn't have any particular connotation--people of both genders can suck. It might be vulgar, but I'd rather be sexually vulgar than the alternatives.

    Oh, and I think that guy in D.C. having to resign is ridiculous. He was using the word in the correct context, and has to lose his job over it? I would say that _is_ an example of taking political correctness too far.

  24. it also indicates the sick fascination of (white) Americans of Nazi-Germany and Hitler and probably the only non-American history they are being told at school, of course in an America glorifying way, you know, Americans, the liberators.
    It only indicates their lack of understanding and respect

  25. More: I don't think that the use of the term slave driver is meant with any different intent dependent on the race of the person using it. A white and a black person are most likely talking about someone working them too hard, and attempting to be funny. Is it likely that the black person knows more about the history of slavery? I would guess yes. But I don't know that that changes the intent of the comment.

    And as far as political correctness goes: People are down with political correctness until it starts to infringe on something _they_ say. Race is not the only marginalized identity out there. Black people say homophobic things, Gay men say sexist things, Jewish people say racist things, etc. etc.

    I think anytime you present someone with the idea that _they_ are the insensitive/bad/mean one, a common initial reaction is for the person to get defensive, because no one wants to be "that guy."

    And the reason that white people are the poster children for being anti-pc is because they are the ones that have had to deal with being called the insensitive ones for the longest.

    Like you said in one of your earlier posts, the reason white people don't talk about being white is because these days (with the exception of blogs like this one,) the only white people talking about being white are white supremacists. No one wants to be associated with those guys, so the majority of white people would like to go around acting like being white isn't important, being white doesn't matter.

  26. I hate when people use the word "rape" to express that they were ripped off, or something along those lines.

    "Retard" for people who are or are being stupid is another.

  27. I'm the blog owner of the "schedule Nazi" link.

    Frist, how is the casual use of "Nazi" considered "a type of 'white whine'". What makes it white? How do you know I'm white?

    Second, I don't think you're a PC Nazi, but just a miguided language precriptivist. Words evolve in their meaning and usage over time, even words with horrific images attached to them. Context is king. We can see it with the words "bad" and "sick", which when used in a certain manner, means exactly the opposite of its literal meaning.

    So chill out and have fun. In case you're wondering, I don't really mean for you to become cold.

  28. I think for anybody over 25, trying to be 100% politically correct is very difficult. I grew up in Mississippi. It really really really really sucked for me pesonally and messed-up language was the norm. I'll share some of the many common phrases I heard. I used some of them on occassion when I was a kid; I'm certainly not proud of it. "Red-headed step-child, ass-raped, that's gay, ahh you fag, nigger-knockin, bitch-slapped, wear a wife-beater, that takes balls, 'corky' to describe when someone does something considered dumb, white trash, trailer trash, he/she cracked the whip, gimp, pull a bitch, the media crucified him, Indian-giver, feel like i've got a noose around my neck, that's ghetto, somebody is 'braindead', he 'banged' her, he 'pounded' her, 'I'm depresed' to describe fairly brief and minor down mood, master/slave on computers, etc.., football team's 'disabled list', wait a cotton-pickin' minute, our team at work is gonna have to 'circle the wagons', the team at work needs to have a pow wow, he 'nigger lipped' the cigarette, 'that's mighty white of you' when someone does something kind or generous, hungry as a hostage, she looks "ethiopian" to describe a thin woman/girl, Chinese fire drill. Where I lived it was all white and African-American/Black. The stuff directed at me was explicit because they hadn't yet come up with euphemisms.

  29. Wow, cdwriteme, that's a comprehensive list!

    You missed "yin yang" (not that I know whether you ever heard it); TR_Xands explains the use of that one by her black father here, and also, why non-white utterances of racist slurs are still a white thing, because they're examples of internalized racism (though she doesn't quite put it that way).

    This thread has wandered from "cliches that trivialize mass oppression" to other forms of objectionable language, but that's fine by me. I think all of them should be called out for banishment. And, some of them are terms that people don't even realize are offensive. I've known many people who didn't realize that the words "Jew" and "gyp" in reference to stinginess refer to Jews and Gypsies. I don't think it's okay to use them because their current meanings have drifted from their original ones; I imagine many Jewish people and gypsies/Romani people still flinch when they hear them.

  30. I think it's just overused hyperbole. People aren't thinking that the person is an actual Nazi. But being strict or "anal" isn't how Nazis acted. I do, however, think that people should refrain from using the term "Nazi" for reasons outlined in this post and comments. The only time someone should be described as acting like a Nazi, is well, if they are one or demonstrate racist and authoritarian Nazi ideas.

    However, I do want to ask what an appropriate substitute would be? If you want to emphasize someone's "strictness" (how that equates to Nazism, I don't know), what would you say?

  31. I don't get how anyone can argue that they can actually use the word nazi because the meaning has changed. WWII wasn't that long ago. Maybe it's easier to brush off the pain and atrocities in the US, cause it wasn't that personal, but over here in Europe it's not the same.
    And why would the meaning have changed?You still have nazis, sorry "white supremacists" in the US, no?There are still plenty hanging around in Russia and a good few other countries here.
    You just can't compare what happened to being strict about parking fees, for god's sake. It's a matter of common respect, at least that's how I see it.

  32. MaconD,

    Yeah, it's ugly out there. I have my baggage, though I'm trying to improve. One of the most therapeutic things for me about the blogging community is the reenforcement.

    It's amazing how many people, regardless of race, sexuality, socioeconomic level, ableness, etc... cop an attitude with me when I speak up about this sort of language. As a general rule, it loses me more friends that it gets me. Still, I feel better about myself for pointing out the hypocrisy of those hurt by labels against them cheerfully labeling others.

    In my experience, white people certainly are the biggest offenders, but definitely not the only ones.

    So, I come on these blogs to refill my tank and remind myself that I'm not crazy, that other people think like me.

  33. Ooooh. This is one of my favorite topics!

    I agree with an earlier commenter that much of the time when people use terms like "nazi" and "slave-driver" they are doing so out of hyperbole or to be dramatic, rather then seeking to (or causing one to) trivialize historical horrors such as the holocaust and slavery. Not really going to touch slave-driver (someone else can) but nazi, as used popularly, doesn't refer explicitly to the nationalist-socialist party of hitler in mid-20th century Germany, but has evolved in English to symbolize a more general and vague totalitarian rigidity (along with "communist", "gulag" or other words connected to the USSR and also words connected with Fascism) and ideological inflexibility. I would associate a "PC Nazi" (to appropriate the term momentarily) mentally with someone who hews dogmatically to specific guidelines of political correctness just "because" and does so in a way that sees no irony or exception, and which eventually could become (in its inflexibility) oppresive. I don't use the term, and wouldn't likely, but if I did that is the idea I'd be attempting to evoke or convey.

    Now a rude question: are Roma really so significant a demographic group in the United States/English speaking world (not counting the travellers, for these purposes) that the word "gypped" is a serious issue to them rather then a favorite go-to term for those who love to point out the hidden offensiveness of seemingly everyday language? While there are a lot more effective ways to convey "I've been ripped off" then saying "I was gypped", at this point in a modern american context the term has been so separated from its original meaning that I wonder if it can still truly be offensive to Roma. Again, not saying that its right to use the term (or wrong, necessarily) but that I find the argument of "we can't say it because we could offend Roma" to be a little paranoid, given what a small percent of the total world population they are, and what a small percentage of the total Roma population lives in the US. Whether or not the term, in its original context, is offensive to the people to whom it was originally applied seems to me to be a sort of "if a tree falls in the woods..." sort of argument.

    cdwriteme mentioned some terms that I'd never heard before and was curious about, including "corky", "football team 'disabled list'" and "circle the wagons". My best guesses for them (no googling!) were, in order: going off half-cocked/corked like an exploding carbonated beverage, players who can't participate in a game due to injury, and "carnie justice" (as portrayed in the TV series "carnivale"). I was also curious about who would be offended by "red-headed step child", and whether or not it "counted" in the original context of macon's post because red-haired people are part of the overall dominant group... and whether or not its truly offensive since the superstitions that led to the mistreatment of redheads have been well documented, and redheadedness has turned into a massive cultural phenomenon and fascination.

    Lame and Gimp both imply limping originally? But lame is typically used now to describe broken-ness on a more general level. The term is sometimes applied to people, but in the (somewhat limited) reading I've done about the issue nothing has come up that suggests that the term is in any way directly attacking of or offensive to the differently abled who are mobility impaired for any of a variety of reasons. The only non-colloquial context I've ever heard the term used in is describing a horse who'd become lame after barrel racing.

    Anyway, yeah, those things I would like to have clarified. Sorry for the long comment.

  34. I'm surprised a discussion on the popular use of the word 'Nazi', not a single mention was made of the sitcom that popularized its usage, a show created by two Jews with one of them being the main character.

    Also, we're more than a decade since Life is Beautiful, an Oscar winning and internationally acclaimed comedy about life under the Nazis and at Auschwitz, delighted audiences around the world.

    Time to get over the self righteous indignation.

  35. Fluxor,

    If it's time to get over "self righteous indignation" then it's time for you to stop being ignorant. You're trying so hard to defend your usage of the word Nazi and it's hilarious, but no. It always fails when a member of the majority group--that's you--tries to decide how a minority group (in this case the Jews you mentioned) gets to use a word. You give it up first.

    Thanks to Macon D for linking my post by the way, I'm actually here almost every day I've just never commented before I don't think. Always interesting posts!

  36. Jules,

    "Corky" came from a character with Down's Syndrome on a show, I think it was called "Thirty-Something"

    "Disabled List" indeed refers to players out for a few games. I mentioned it because it strikes me a bit insensitive to use the same verbage for a fantastic athlete with what are temporary injuries as is used for someone with, say, multiple sclerosis.

    "circle the wagons" as I understand it is a reference to whites traveling west during "manifest destiny", encountering Native Americans, and circling the wagons so they had a tight group and continuous fire. It was probably a purely defensive act, but in light of the fact that they aimed to take land that belonged to someone else and the tens of millions Native Americans slaughtered, probably not cool to use flippantly.

    "red-headed step child" is just tacky and implies that a red-headed child is the least desirable for a step parent to have.

    Also Jules, I definitely didn't pay careful attention to the "mass oppression" standard. I sort of just tried to work along the continuum from crude and insensitive to mass oppression.

  37. Oh, T.R Xands, the misunderstandings. If I should be so bold as to prescribe a specific usage of a word, then I too would fall under the camp of language prescriptivism that I accuse the author of this blog post. My error was to advise others how to feel, and for that, my apologies. Continue with your indignation and I shall continue with my usage.

    And pray tell, dear Xands, what majority group do I belong to? Have you been stalking me?

  38. I was in college before I finally figured out that my parents use of the word "chinky" to describe inferiorly made products was racist. (Thanks so much, Mom and Dad!)

  39. Lately I've been diagnosed with ADHD, so I've become more aware of mental health issues. Some words I've become more aware of people using all the time are "crazy" and "insane." It doesn't bother me so much in terms of its use to describe a situation or object, but rather when used to describe a person, whether or not they are suffering from mental disorders. I'm not claiming to be above reproach, since I use the word myself unconsciously. But as a person who is facing whether or not to "come out" to people close to me as a person with a mental disorder, it's damaging to hear them talk about "batshit crazy" people and so on.
    I had a long argument with someone recently on Youtube comments (yes I have a lot of time on my hands :P) about their use of the N word. Basically they were saying someone was a N for being ignorant. I pointed out that it didn't matter if he was using the term in its archaic sense, b/c the word has a different meaning to most people in the present. He of course insisted that his personal meaning/intent was of primary importance, even though I explained that he couldn't possibly expect people to stop every time someone uses that word to ascertain which of the different meanings the user meant, that would be ridiculous. I have noticed this repeatedly when I call out people for using oppressive language: as long as they meant not to offend, that's all that matters. And now that I know their intent, I should "chill out"...."lighten up"....take your pick.
    Apparently the line of reasoning is as Renee says only the oppressor has the power to define what terminology is offensive.

  40. On computer hardware sites there's a tendency to call fans of rival hardware manufacturer's "Nazis", e.g. "AMD nazi" or "Intel Nazi", something that I find not just insensitive but also bizarre.

    However, when it comes to using the term for political enemies, I think it gets more complicated. Is it OK to call the BNP 'Nazis', for example?

    Certainly I think its a very bad idea, and insensitive, to use Nazi references when criticising the actions of Israel, but the fact is Israel's supporters also often compare the likes of Hamas and the PLO to the Nazis. And that example of the Serbs earlier - well, is it so wildly inaccurate? The Nazis killed Serbs, so did NATO, and NATO has stood by and allowed the ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo. Using the word to describe folk who just have a different favourite microprocessor is clearly absurd, but when speaking about people who have killed your countrymen, whatever the reasons, I don't see that its as clear-cut. When people are killed feelings run high and words get thrown about.

    In general the trouble is its very hard to rationally defend any particular standard. You can always be attacked by someone with different standards to yourself - I'm OK with 'crazy' but detest the use of 'retarded'. Likewise can't stand the use of 'lame' when used to describe anything but a horse or an excuse. Or 'douchebag' - an expression I _loathe_ not just because its misogynist but also because its so 100% American (which I'm not) and makes me think of right-wing frat boys or Beavis and Butthead.

    "I like the Platinum Rule: treat others as they wish to be treated"

    Trouble is, Nazis wish to be treated as the master race, don't they? So your rule has a serious problem there.

  41. How is douchebag misogynistic? Douche is the apparatus for introducing water into the body, either the vagina or anus. Even if it were exclusively applied to cleaning of the vagina, to call someone a douchebag wouldn't appear to me to be sexist in anyway..


Please see the "commenting guidelines" before submitting a comment.

hit counter code