Sup ATSers? I had so many ideas for my next thread, it was gonna be a Pretty Big Thing (the first one was a little sappy, not gonna lie...
this goes way past pondering the inexplicable and fluffing my own ego!
We're going to talk about a touchy topic. Namely, the practical implications of our personal views and habits towards others. Or even, the
"Other". Of course, many of you (kinda myself included) will be wondering which current affair this could be related to. Quite a few, really.
Recently in the UK, we've heard the press comment on a perceived "white flight" from a number of metropolitan areas, apparently a consequence of the
rise in the immigrant population especially in the capital. The racial tensions in certain areas, particularly between White English and South Asian
communities have been inflamed by a number of recent events that I won't go into any further detail about for the moment.
The issue of gay marriage has sparked a lot of debate across the West in the past few months. We're all over the place on that one, and this thread
isn't to argue about that either.
To top it all off, though, has to be the lawsuit against one Paula Deen. That's right, folks. The "N-word" has, once again, become a current
One of the many things these issues have in common would be the feeling of a suppression of free speech among certain members of society, but that can
vary substantially depending on the particular issue itself. Some white people feel their freedom of speech is suppressed when discussing affirmative
action. Some religious adherents feel the same on gay marriage, and some men feel the same on the subject of women's quotas in the boardroom.
If there's one thing I enjoy about living where I'm at, it's about being able to say pretty much whatever I want. Yes, we all know about PRISM and how
the GCHQ are snaking me out to the gubmint just for writing that ignorant sentence, but think about it. People disappear in other parts of the world
for saying the same things we do. They might say 'em once, we'll probably say them daily.
However, it would be right to say that my previous sentence isn't accurate in that, in the past few years, a couple of citizens in the UK at least
have been incarcerated for "hate speech", Liam Stacey
example. Should tweeting racist comments to a critically ill person be illegal? I'd say no, but surely one has to have a little bit of courtesy in
In contrast, Hackney North MP Diane Abbott had no charges put forward against her after the racially insensitive Tweets she posted
While she didn't exactly face legal problems for her transgressions, she did get
a similar smear campaign to the one that Paula Deen's getting right now, not to mention she's lost all but the little face she had in her party, and
the country to boot.
So where do our actions as average Janes and Joes come into the foray? Why do we say what we say about, and do what we do to people who "aren't like
us"? Should we really have to watch what we say?
Here's a little anecdote. Back in my university days (only a year ago, but still) I lived in Bradford. It's a city that is much more diverse and less
than London at the same time, in that it has a smaller white population, but the minority population is predominantly Muslim. That Muslim population
hails from all four corners, mind you, but many of them are Pakistanis who also self-segregate by region.
Almost fortnightly, I would be called the N-word by strangers, whether it was on the way home from studying, partying or just late-night gallivanting
to clear one's head. Rarely would it be from the mouths other black people - the percentage is a drop in the ocean there - but from people of all
other backgrounds. English people, South Asian people, Greek people, Arabs, and a couple Chinese too. Not that it bothered me.
Why not? Probably because I'm the token friend in many of the circles I frequent or frequented at work, school and outside. I have, at some point,
given many of these non-black people a free pass to use such words in banter because of the comfortable environment. Several other people of all
backgrounds have done the same at some point, but they're hardly a dime a dozen.
When I think of free speech, it helps to analogise it with gun laws. I think people should totally have guns, but they should be trained and know
exactly when and when not
to use them. Why would you want to cling to your freedom to say whatever you want just so you can hurt people on
unfair grounds? Seriously, who still thinks like this, and why are we defending them instead of the victims of said verbal abuse? Women in binders,
people. Women in binders.
It all comes down to comfort and social awareness. Here's a little social experiment that might be fun to try. If you happen to be a member of the
majority ethnicity in your own area, time how long it takes you (from the moment you wake up) to realise that you are the ethnicity you are, and what
that means to others in your society. It would work just as well for men as well. How quickly does it take you to acknowledge the fact that you are a
man during the day?
It's an awareness that minorities are often uncomfortable with. My shoulders are chip-free, but I'm reminded that I'm not white pretty much daily.
Public transport, customers at work, and even passers by outside just seem to exhibit changes in body language and even subtle quirks in vocal tone
when we come into contact. I don't hold it against them; that would be ridiculously hypersensitive, but it's just an undeniable product of how humans
experience perceived differences in others, especially with differences they aren't acquainted with.
So what's my point? Well, unfortunately ATS, it comes down to the same, tired old argument of privilege. Not just white privilege, or even male
privilege, but it's essentially the privilege that's afforded to those who closely resemble the ruling class of any state, whether that's through
something superficial like race or sex, or something deeper, like economic status or political belief.
These privileges is clinal and vary between persons. It's not usually "given" to them as a gift or right, so it generally goes unnoticed by everyone
except those who don't have it. In fact, the Kotaku article below puts it in humourous but really legible terms.
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There
The article pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject. The reason why people from certain groups frequently come under fire for the things they
say is because of this social mechanism. If you're closer to the "Straight White Male" archetype or any one of its equivalents, your invisible
privilege grants you a louder voice. People will listen and are more likely to take you seriously. Instead of focusing on your ethnicity or sex, they
will be more likely to pick apart your every sentence.
Now that being said, how do you guys feel on the subject? Should we be more courteous when exercising our freedom of speech? How far do we have to go
before our words become outright discrimination?
DISCLAIMER: I don't want to ban people from using words. At all.
edit on 25-6-2013 by ihavenoaccount because: Cheers intrptr! Forgot the
last link, silly me!