And When Not to Use Them
Apparently, I need to post this for general humans.
Call this Internet Protocol 101 if you want.
I’m old enough to remember all the slurs and bigotry leveled at our neighbors for decades. Hell, I remember when people laughed at the thought of labeling the Scottish, Irish, Italian or Eastern European “white”.
With that in mind, let me be abundantly clear on my position WHENEVER I hear someone say “but this is group X”. I am well aware that there are bad people out there and what they do. Hell, I literally just had my catalytic convertor stolen AND confronted the people stealing it (they still got away). But if you start going “this group is like X”, I’m going to treat you like the people who say racist crap.
Because what you’re saying is bigoted.
Knock it off. Work out your bigotry elsewhere.
Use this as a test: if you can replace the word you’re using with an ethnic or religious group that has been discriminated against and it sounds horrible, THEN DON’T DO IT. This is the Test of Relevance. Let’s say we’re talking about a drunk driver. And we report that the drunk driver was a part of Alchoholics Anonymous. That is NOT a bias. It’s relevant to the conversation. This driver obviously has a problem, was a member of a group that had that specific problem, and committed a horrible crime because of that problem.
So why use irrelevant topics? Bigots and racists do this ALL the time in what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a dogwhistle. This is a signal to other bigots and racists that they are a whole-hearted supporter while still appearing ‘reasonable’. Let’s take that drunk driver again. What if, on the police report, his name was Maxwell, an old Scottish name. So, a person says “Ah. He’s Scottish” implying that the drinking was because of his ‘race.’
Someone calls out the person on it and the person says “But… he really was Scottish. I wasn’t implying anything. Were you?” That’s an attempt to make the other person guilty, because they thought a ‘racist thought’. At the same point, it’s blatantly clear to all of the bigoted/racist readers that the person saying “He’s Scottish” actually means “We all know Scotsman are drunk pieces of ****.”
When I see this happen, I admit that I give everyone the benefit of a doubt at first because we’re all learning to live together as neighbors and as community. There are new people who’ve moved in, to kids getting out of the house as adults, to old standbys who’ve been here forever. But I have also been directly proven right multiple times by people who will. not. learn.
I live in fire and earthquake country. Events that can literally make us totally reliant on each other at any moment. Hells, I just dug up photos of an arthquake that I lived through that were far worse than I remember and the last news I got from the local fire department was that the next one will likely have even worse consequences.
Communities must remember that they have to be strong and we only do that by sticking together. Beyond that, as a whole, we could be brilliant. If we see issues, we should build solutions, not push it off on someone else. And if you, personally, haven’t found a solution, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one out there. It just means you have the unique experience to give so the same solution isn’t attempted over and over again.
In the end, we are neighbors.
We take care of each other.