Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Supposed Thought Crimes"

Apparently, racist, sexist, or homophobic words themselves do not necessarily earn any rebuke. Nor is the race or gender of the speaker always a clue to the degree of outrage that follows.

Instead, the perceived ideology of the perpetrator is what matters most. Maher and Letterman, being good liberals, could hardly be crude sexists. But when the conservative Limbaugh uses similar terms, it must be a window into his dark heart.

It's apparently OK for whites or blacks to slur the conservative Clarence Thomas in racist terms. Saying anything similar of the late liberal justice Thurgood Marshall would have been blasphemous.

In short, we are dealing not with actual word crimes, but with supposed thought crimes.

This follows the pattern, quoting from a speech by Steven Covey, "We judge ourselves by our intentions, we judge others by their actions." In other words, if someone we identify with says something we assume good intentions. If someone we fear or loath says the same thing, we assume bad intentions.

There is also a power dynamic - the powerless can say offensive things and not seem repugnant to others. The powerful, or those perceived as having power (IOW Rush L), appears to many as a bully.

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