photo blog_head_zpsonl8fonu.jpg
Meesa gonna kill you!

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Policing Offence

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, Policing Offence

"The politics of offence, identity and rights are becoming ever more complicated and toxic. You can say it's great to have a black president but not that you'd like a white one. Ditto women. Just when you've learned to call the sexually ambiguous or at least transient transgender, you're told the concept of gender is now unacceptably binary and hence insulting.

There're exploding tripwires of social acceptability everywhere, with a new language to describe perceived offensiveness: microaggressions. So-called safe spaces and trigger warnings to protect students from being confronted with ideas they don't agree with. Presumably calling them the snowflake generation for their oversensitivity is unacceptably offensive too.

It only seems to work one way. Black or brown people can't be racist about whites. Women, if that's not too binary a description, can't be sexist about men...

Are we stifling opinion and debate, making the political personal and identity more important than ideas?...

It basically is a way of trying to trump each other by how many suffering points we have based on not what you've thought or said or achieved but based on the accidents of birth and skin colour...

'Often it is presented as natural and that is the problem. We need to accept that we're socialized in certain ways and often women are presented as, when Theresa May was announced as Prime Minister a lot of people were talking about how women always clear up men's mess as if we are hardwired to do that. Yes we're socialized to do that but it's not naturally ingrained within us'

'Isn't this what takes us into this kind of - so it might be all right to say that women are better write, crime writers than men. As long as I say women are socialized to be better crime writers. So you end up in this situation where as long as I use all the right words it will be okay'...

I've just written this book called 'I find that offensive' and the thing that drives me mad is when people start every sentence: as a woman i find that offensive or as a lesbian I find that offensive or as a person of color I find that offensive, you know what I mean...

Identity is used to try and trump somebody else and silence them. You know if somebody says as a woman I find that offensive, you are meant to shut up...

People are drawing attention to the fact that they are systematically being silenced. So what we need to realize is that we can talk about individuals and we talk about specific instances but actually what this is a product of is a system that is unfair...

'You just critiqued essentialism a moment ago. So I mean when you say they're drawing attention to the fact that they have been systematically silenced, I mean there is no comparison between: when you say as a woman does that mean a Theresa May woman, an Andrea Leadsom woman? A you woman, a me woman?...

We're not having sophisticated discussion about oppression in society at the moment. What we are having is competing identities trying to say what's acceptable to be said and policing ourselves. You know like people say you are not allowed to say that about lesbian, gay rights because you're not from the LGBT community... if you only look at things through the prism of identity you avoid critiquing them for what they are saying, what their ideas and what their politics are. That's what my critique is.'

'And i agree with that to an extent but that is to assume that we aren't all judged on certain qualities. That we aren't all judged on being a woman, on being a person of color. That those things we carry them with us every day and we are judged on those criteria'

'No no. When you say we carry them with us, it's become fashionable to make a virtue out of producing them as part of your argument which is actually an essentializing way of reducing politics down to identity'...

'I think identity nowadays actually squashes ideas and puts an end to politics full stop. I think one other consequence of this that we can see is that not all identities are equal.

So feminists have spent decades arguing that we need to have more women represented in positions of leadership so they can act as role models for younger women. And then we get to women at the weekend in the runoff for the Conservative party leadership and suddenly these are the wrong kind of women. These are just are females who happen to be put into a position of power. They're not women that feminists actually approve of.

I think one of the consequences of this and where this takes us is that we've become unable to separate out the personal from the political nowadays and we've become unable to separate out things that we disagree with from things that we are insulted by and we're far too quick to jump to be outraged and jump to be insulted than actually sit down and be able to engage in political dialogue'

'I'm rarely outraged by things people say to me but isn't it important for us to be sensitive to the effect our words have on other people?'

'I actually think it's patronizing and insulting to worry so much about the effect that we might have on somebody by our words that we stop ourselves from saying those words. I actually think it's far more respectful to say what we think and assume that the person we're talking to is able to cope with debate in exactly the same way that we consider ourselves able to cope with debate... I think it's very very insulting to talk down to people and I think the biggest way you can talk down to someone is by changing your language'...

'Peter Thatchell... Even you have fallen foul of this stuff, haven't you? You've been accused, unfairly I'm sure, of bigotry, racism and transphobia. If it happens to you what hope for the rest of us?'

'Well precisely. Particularly when there is no evidence ever presented for those allegations... I was one of the champions of identity politics forty years ago, fifty years ago... in those days women, ethic minority people, lesbians, gay men, disabled people, others were totally excluded from the public discourse and political debate...

What I think has to some extent gone wrong is as your previous speakers have alluded to is that identity is increasingly being used as a weapon to either denigrate or silence people because of their particular traits or background. Now I believe that a good idea is a good idea regardless of who proposes it or what their background is. Just because someone is a straight white male doesn't mean to say automatically their idea is invalid. They should be judged on the content of what they say, not on those characteristics...

You have to judge someone on what they intended. If they have made a mistake, be ready to forgive and to educate rather than punish. And I think so much of identity politics is about punishing people who make mistakes...

'I asked her to explain exactly why it was impossible for a black person to be a racist about white people or women to be racist about, sexist about men. And she answered with a distinction which I didn't quite follow between prejudice and racism but it had something to do with historic power structures. I think her real argument-'

'I understand the point and the point is that racism is prejudice plus power... these ideas are almost impossible to understand unless you spend your life in discussing these kinds of questions and for me one of the criteria, criteria for a political idea is that it's something that people can understand. If a political idea is something that you can't understand unless you're steeped in that area it's a problematic idea for me'...

'She started to get into contradictory territory because she actually understood something of the dangers of essentializing people to their identity. She mentioned the word essentialism but she actually then went on to do exactly that very thing it seemed to me. And although she kept saying yes I know the danger of doing that but on the other hand I think it's important that we are able to draw attention to the historic plight of women when we talk... rather arrogantly assume all of the struggles of your particular gender or know.

I'm always very tempted to say there's an Irish person, you can't possibly say that's me because you know I mean I went through the famine you know... She is asserting, her view is that in a world of absolute equality there would be no gender differences. Now that is a very debatable proposition. If we're going to say well where anybody who doesn't agree with her about that debatable proposition is somehow deemed to be offensive we're in a very difficult world'

'Or also privileged. I mean that's the thing is where like you don't know because I'm the woman and I understand it because of. And you think no it's a political analysis, let's discuss it'...

He felt as a Guardian writer, reader that he could talk to Guardian writers and readers but he didn't think that UKIP's telling the same joke to the same material to a UKIP audience should be allowed. Very liberal, very Guardian"
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes