Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Student Makes Bad Sound; Academia, Internet Outraged

This has gotten completely out of control. I grew up before that word was "reclaimed" (is that the right term? I can't currently remember...). It's all over the place now; it's unavoidable. It's enthusiastically used and integrated into popular culture...and I've still never quite gotten used to it completely. There's an obvious argument for the position that it's permissible (or at least far less-bad) for blacks to use it than for non-blacks to do so. But the currently-popular view (popular on the left, at any rate) that it's a horrific moral wrong for non-blacks to say it is absurd. It's a shitty word. And that's basically all it is. It's not a magic spell. The progressive view is particularly unsustainable in conjunction with the view that "celebrates" (as the paleo-PCs used to say) its use by blacks. The enormous alleged moral gap just isn't sustainable/defensible, and it's less so the wider it gets. It's what produces the absurd outrage that's often sparked when a white kid is videoed singing along with a rap song. In fact, it's the absurdity of the moral exaggeration that prompts some people to say it. Moral absurdities always prompt recreational violations of the relevant rule--as well as pointed, principled violations.

   This is the sort of thing that produces so much of the absurdity on the left. Start with the right idea--e.g. that racial slurs are shitty. Then blow the insight out of all proportion. Because the left knows no moderation. Its internal "logic" produces a powerful inclination to radicalism--ergo absurdity. Conservatism also produces radicals, obviously, but conservatism's internal logic / central ideas resist movement--in either direction. One might argue, obviously, that that's equally bad or even worse. I don't particularly have a view about that. I'm just making a point about the left.
   Note, also, that the guy in the tape is cut off as he's explaining his position. They cut him off just as he's saying "I think it's ok to say any word. I think we think in terms of..." The first bit is, of course, a perfectly respectable view, even if I'm somewhat disinclined to agree with it. But I reckon we'll never know what his argument is.
   Furthermore, what he is doing is certainly more like mentioning a word than like using it. And it's much more difficult to make a case against mentioning a word. Though we once interviewed a guy who was interested in profanity, and he thought that it was one of the interesting things about profanity is that it's off-putting even when merely mentioned. So there are things to say in this vicinity.
   Note that AU seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place. They apparently aren't so far gone as to come right out and ban certain words--though, as a private institution, they have the power to do so. OTOH, they obviously can't say that it's NBD. Though what they have said makes it pretty clear that they're not going to make a federal case out of it--the utterer obviously wasn't using it in conjunction with treats or any of the other things they mention.
   Though: note that the statements by the Residence Hall Association indicates that this incident will be used to further solidify the grip of institutionalized political correctness. Speaking of an inclination to radicalism...
   The internet, video recording of everything, and radical PC politics is a very bad combination...as only a few thousand people have mentioned. Instead of dealing with this as we would have in the dorms back in my day--e.g. by saying "Dude, don't be an asshole" or "O.k., state your reasons" (or both), this is blown entirely out of proportion.
   Though, in the current climate, I wonder how much of a shitstorm it would cause to even publicly argue that this is being blown out of proportion? That alone might get you censured or something on a lot of campuses...


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