Are there bigots among us? January 8, 2002 2:04 PM   Subscribe

I really hesitated about bringing this up because I seem to have remembered it being discussed before. How can meaningful discussion derive from this? Let me say up front that for me at least it's not a political thing, it could have been Gore or Nader and I still would have brought this up. (more inside)
posted by geoff. to Etiquette/Policy at 2:04 PM (46 comments total)

Some comments that added insight came out of the thread, but the header seemed to be guided as "Look at what Bush did... let's all agree that he's stupid!"

It could have been worded better such as: "Bush uses the term 'Paki' deemed racial by some. Do you think this reflects bad on his character or was it an innocent mistake?"

Something along those lines in my opinion would have opened up to some of MeFi's more conservative thinkers to not feel intimidated in going into the thread. The way it's worded isn't inviting at all.

Opinions in threads can be worded well but for this seemed more like, for lack of better words, a flaim bait.

I don't want to sound preachy... so if anyone can come up with good examples of objective front page posts that are based on "touchy" topics then that would be a lot of help. On the other hand I could be making a big deal out of nothing.
posted by geoff. at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2002

I would have phrased it. "Is Bush a dangerous racist? Or just an ignorant hick?"

I'm half kidding. Seriously, the post could have (and should have) been less inflammatory. I think a front page poster has a responsibility to be less flip and snarky than someone posting comments inside. The use of the word "hick" is an blatant no-no, and I would imagine drgonzo regrets using the word. You're just begging to be dismissed out of hand as a troll when you use that kind of language.

Still, these are emotional times, both here and abroad, and when the President makes a faux-pas like this in front of the word, some of us are embarrassed--and angry. That, I think, is where this kind of language comes from.
posted by jpoulos at 3:16 PM on January 8, 2002

I think this has actually been covered repeatedly in the thread itself, though I understand that MeTa is the place to point out the bad post.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:32 PM on January 8, 2002

embarrassed or no, the wording of this FPP is a troll. it would have been equally bad if it had said "is bush an ignorant hick?"

how about
Where was Condi? Bush refers to the Pakistani people with a British racial slur, and is accused of being culturally insensitive...again. Other presidents haven't made these kinds of gaffes; at this crucial juncture in world history, why does it keep happening now?
or maybe some other follow up, depending on which aspect of the situation the poster wished to explore.

it's sure no news around here that some people think that bush is a clueless moron; neither is it news that some other people don't.
posted by rebeccablood at 3:41 PM on January 8, 2002

Awww, shucks, guys.
I realize now the error of my ways. There definitely was a less-glib way of posting this event, which might have inspired a more articulate and fluent discussion of the topic. I did say I was sorry, and was enlightened by many of the comments. One day I'll be perfect.
posted by drgonzo at 3:42 PM on January 8, 2002 should offer a paypal based FPP writing service. i have this great idea for a post...but i'm not sure how to word it
posted by th3ph17 at 3:59 PM on January 8, 2002

This is interesting because George Bush is a hick. I'm a conservative, have nothing against hicks, in fact encourage them to be more so, as I'm all for authenticity and local culture, etc.

But when the leader of the free world, who should know he's not only talking to Americans, makes so many offensive gaffes, surely it's cause for concern.

"Crusade" was one. "Paki" is another. In both cases it doesn't matter where it's insulting or not. The fact is that Muslims and Pakistanis, respectively, know it's insulting somewhere.

As if Pakistanis could know that "Paki" isn't offensive in the U.S. I didn't either.

It's not him. It's his staff. Are none of them worldly enough to point stuff out? Does he check with them?

So I guess, notwithstanding drgonzo's gentlemanly comment here, the post was a bit outrageous because Bush, let's face it, is outrageous.

Is a poster to pretend he doesn't have an opinion, a heart, a standpoint? Is he a mere compére or moderator?

Fwiw, the ideal model for me would be to phrase the post in a more neutral way - because the fact it has been brought up is surely polemical enough - and then weigh in, like everybody else, with your no-holds-barred opinion.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:17 PM on January 8, 2002

miguel, hick is an insult, just like paki is.

hick unsophisticated person from a rural area; yokel.  Crossref. Syn. yokel , clodhopper

1. a simple, naive, or foolish country person.

to call say that he is insensitive or poorly informed would be one thing; or to call him a boor might even be defensible. but hick is a slur.

(never mind the ridiculousness of an ivy league hick.)

posted by rebeccablood at 4:31 PM on January 8, 2002

Oh I'm sorry, then. I like Bush and think he is sensitive and a nice person. And he's not a boor in my book. I'd gladly trust him with my wallet or invite him over to dinner.

But Rebecca, I don't have the staff he has. I meant provincial, unworldy, uniformed, parochial, raw, naive, slightly stupid rich kid who didn't study nearly enough.

I thought "hick" was a loveable term - that's why I said I liked and defended them. When Bush said "the folks" who killed thousands of people, it sounded homey and weird, yet touching.

So I retract what I said. If "hick" is an insult - and a conscious one - then it's even worse. And drgonzo's apology is even more of a "class act"! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:35 PM on January 8, 2002

Here's an apposite Bush quiz from today's Guardian, for entertainment purposes only.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:57 PM on January 8, 2002

drgonzo: I realize now the error of my ways ... I did say I was sorry.

<sarcasm>So are you truly sorry for your remarks?</sarcasm>
posted by dlewis at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2002

I think a front page poster has a responsibility to be less flip and snarky than someone posting comments inside. Oh, wait, that's an inside example...
posted by y2karl at 7:26 PM on January 8, 2002

actually attacking Bush for saying "Paki" and then calling him a "Hick" is a little bit of hypocrisy, don't you think. One kind of bigotry is no better than another.
posted by jonmc at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2002

The difference is, "Paki," as far as I know, denotes no meaning beyond "Pakistani." For some, the term carries affiliated connotations that are negative and unwelcome; for others, it does not.

OTOH, there ARE "simple, naive, or foolish country" people in the world, and the degree of offense appropriate to the use of the word "hick," therefore, is dependent upon the accuracy of its description of the subject. Whether or not you view it as an accurate label of George W. Bush will predetermine your reaction to such usage.

Personally, I find rebeccablood's "Where was Condi" remark more offensive in its implications than anything Bush or drgonza said.
posted by rushmc at 7:47 PM on January 8, 2002

OTOH, there ARE "simple, naive, or foolish country" people in the world,

Yes there are, rushmc. And a lot of simple and naive urban folk as well. Now I'm the last person on earth who would argue for more PC speech, but I can see how people from rural areas or from south of the Mason-Dixon line get irritated at the assumption that all southerners are dumb and bigoted and the fact that people who would rather die than use the "n-word" feel no compunctions at all about "redneck" "hick" or "trailer trash." Perhaps even enlightened liberals need an "other" to fear and loathe.
Now I don't believe in regualting speech, but I do believe in balanced thinking. People who write off southerners as dumb should remember that some our best writers(Faulkner, Twain) best thinkers(Jefferson, Washington) and most of our best music(blues, jazz, country and rock-n-roll) all came from down south. And I say this as a native of Connecticut, the most damyankee state in the Union.
posted by jonmc at 8:08 PM on January 8, 2002

but I can see how people from rural areas or from south of the Mason-Dixon line get irritated at the assumption that all southerners are dumb and bigoted

I understand your point, but again, I don't think it relevant to THIS particular situation and usage, where the term was used to describe a single, specific person. In such a case, it can be either accurate or inaccurate, but NOT the generalized stereotypical usage that you are objecting to.
posted by rushmc at 8:38 PM on January 8, 2002

Miguel: a conservative Portugalian is probably different from a conservative American.

Portugalian probably isn't a word, but I have never heard the correct term (Portugal is a country I've read about and seen on tv, they colonized Brazil, etc, but I don't know much about it) for a native of Portugal. Canadian, American, Portugan? I may have uttered a racial slur, for all I know your enemies the Spanish refer to you as Portugalian Pigs, or something. I'm just making an honest effort with my best guess.

And yes, I am interested in the proper term for a native of Portugal. Thanks.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:51 PM on January 8, 2002

a conservative Portugalian is probably different from a conservative American.


noun: Portuguese (singular and plural)
adjective: Portuguese

"a conservative portuguese"

hell, insomnyuk, a conservative american is different from the conservative american of only 30 years ago.

I do rather like "portugalian". I sort of like my initial misspelling of that word even better: "portugalina"
posted by rebeccablood at 10:02 PM on January 8, 2002

Portugalina sounds like:

-a low-cal butter substitute
-a Pixies song
-a Slavic folk tale
-something akin to arugula
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:20 PM on January 8, 2002

thanks rebecca. And yes, there is a veritable gaggle of different types of american conservatives.

You have your right wing religious conservatives, your classic isolationist conservatives(very rare nowadays), your neo-conservatives, your constitutional conservatives, and your compassionate conservatives. I could go on, but I'm boring myself to death

David Dark: so what, you want a medal?

posted by insomnyuk at 10:22 PM on January 8, 2002

Ha, insomnyuk. I typed that exact same thing to David, before saying "ah, why bother?" and being goofy instead.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:23 PM on January 8, 2002

Do I get a medal for that?
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:24 PM on January 8, 2002

Kafkaesque: yessum.

Actually when I said that, I was thinking of my grandpa, and I almost didn't say it.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:37 PM on January 8, 2002

This thread has single handedly ruined 30 years of American-Portugalina relations.
posted by geoff. at 10:37 PM on January 8, 2002

posted by Kafkaesque at 10:40 PM on January 8, 2002

Portugalina sounds like a hot Portuguese lass to me. Portugalino would be its' opposite.
posted by colt45 at 11:32 PM on January 8, 2002

Portugalino! Portugalino! Git yer cold Portuguese lads 'ere!
posted by sylloge at 12:44 AM on January 9, 2002

*After early-morning monitor and between-the-keys cleaning session, still spluttering and dripping a bit*

Any abbreviation or comical variation of a nationality tends to be offensive: Argies, Frenchies, Polacks, Pakis, etc.

Paki is particularly offensive because of its use by racists in the U.K.

The point is, though, that in international diplomacy, outside open warfare, it is always offensive. Any Head of State should know that.

The fact that Bush keeps making these gaffes(remember "Grecians"?)shows he hasn't the slightest sophistication. In a few syllables you can offend whole religions("crusade")or nations, because it is the POTUS speaking.

It's also worrying that his staff either are not consulted or don't know better.

All Bush would have to do is read one book! Any World History For Teens book would do. Never mind plodding through his friend Kissinger's book on Diplomacy.

This surely justifies calling the guy a...rube? Greenhorn? Rookie? I'm at a loss here. Can anyone let the rest of us know of an acceptable, non-offensive word?

This thread has single handedly ruined 30 years of American-Portugalina relations

No it's inaugurated them! About time too.

Why 30 years, geoff? What happened in 1972? Apart from Matt being born and thus MetaFilter, that is.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:03 AM on January 9, 2002

All I know is that for Bush to use the word "Pakis" is like Blair using the word "niggers". I don't think many people would excuse him for that.
posted by salmacis at 5:30 AM on January 9, 2002

Paki: Noun. 1. A Pakistani, but also used as a general and particularly offensive term for any person/immigrant from the Indian sub-continent, such as Pakistan, India, Bengal, Sri Lanka etc. Offens. 2. A shop or delicatessen run by asians. Offens. Paki-bashing: Noun. Racially motivated violence against the Asian community.

I know these offensive, slang terms from reading English murder mysteries.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:36 AM on January 9, 2002

Rube is perfect. It seems to be usually applied to a single person. At least I've never heard of a flock of rubes. It also seems to be understood that two people can be rubes without having anything in common, really. One person doesn't understand an art reference and another wears white after Labor Day. It describes the awkwardness of GWB's behavior in a way that the term "hick" falls short. It also allows people who might be happy in their hickdom not to be lumped in with someone who would insult others without regard to his station.

Main Entry: rube
Pronunciation: 'rüb
Function: noun
Etymology: Rube, nickname for Reuben
Date: 1896
: an awkward unsophisticated person : RUSTIC

All this said, I don't know that using the term rube in a FPP would have engendered better discussion.
posted by colt45 at 6:08 AM on January 9, 2002

Rube sounds like a racist, anti-semitic term.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:33 AM on January 9, 2002

One of the rules of the road here for political topics: If you want the discussion to be intelligent, don't take a cheap shot at Bush, Ashcroft, Gore, Republicans, Democrats, or any other polarizing subject in the front-page post. Wait until people have offered their own comments in the thread and then pounce.
posted by rcade at 6:42 AM on January 9, 2002

and then pounce

Essence of MetaFilter. Wisdom, rcade!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:00 AM on January 9, 2002

what about naif?

1. one who is inexperienced or naive; innocent.  
Synonyms babe (2) , greenhorn (1) , lamb (2) , innocent

it implies inexperience but not malice or stupidity. it might even be neutral enough for a FPP.
posted by rebeccablood at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2002

And yet, the key information being communicated here is "malice or stupidity," so in PC'ing the text, you've altered the intended meaning. Which is just wrong.
posted by rushmc at 2:41 PM on January 9, 2002

David Dark: so what, you want a medal?

Only if it's gold, as in first place, as in first to point out the hypocrisy! Woo-hoo!

Actually I just like saying Woo-hoo! You can keep your medals.
posted by David Dark at 3:06 PM on January 9, 2002

what about naif?

Naif is perfect. At least in Europe, naif painters are appreciated and respected for their lack of sophistication. OK, it's patronizing, but what you can you do?

I also happen to think it describes Bush fairly. Thanks, rebeccablood. It's also applicable to the German Chancellor and a lot of other unwordly politicians in Europe.

(It's always worth reminding you "folks" that European politicians, with a few exceptions, are far more provincial than their U.S. or Canadian counterparts.)

The synonyms, though, had me laughing, imagining FPPs with Bush referred to as a babe. How long do you reckon before a babe-in-nuclear-arms joke would be made? I don't even want to think of what certain posters would have to say about lamb...

It's getting a non-offensive noun that's difficult. While looking up naif I did come across another good word for Bush, but it's an adjective: artless.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:52 PM on January 9, 2002

? While looking up naif I did come across another good word for Bush, but it's an adjective: artless.

ah! and there we disagree, for I see bush, his lack of experience notwithstanding, as being very calculated indeed, especially when it comes to his public persona.
posted by rebeccablood at 7:17 PM on January 9, 2002


posted by rebeccablood at 7:18 PM on January 9, 2002

Good word for Bush? Up here in the Northeast, we got a word - MOOK.
posted by jonmc at 7:56 PM on January 9, 2002

Simpleton is good. Yeah, I think it's appropriate.

A person who is felt to be deficient in judgment, good sense, or intelligence; a fool.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:47 PM on January 9, 2002

I see bush, his lack of experience notwithstanding, as being very calculated indeed, especially when it comes to his public persona.

rebeccablood: Yes, the problem is the root 'art', as in performance arts. He is good at that. In fact I think he artfully plays on his very artlessness.

You can never have enough paradoxes.

jonmc: I was shocked to find "mook" wasn't in the Dictionary of American Regional English. Though It is in the Random House Dictionary of American Slang(vol.2, page 584):

"Mook(probable alternative: MOKE)an ineffectual, foolish, or contemptible person."

The first quotation is from S.J.Perelman's Old Gang(1930): "Even ordinary mooks like you and me". Then there's a 1973 one from Mean Streets: "This guy's a fuckin' mook" and about ten others.

The most explicit one is from The New York Press(3.1.1997):

'Mooks spend money and can keep you in the black, but they don't make for a very attractive social Mooks I mean not only outer-borough types and out-and-out greaseballs, but Wall Streeters, unattractive and socially useless Eurotrash, advertising execs and Upper East Siders.'"

I'd say that was pretty offensive. Good word, though!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:54 PM on January 9, 2002

i don't see the word "mook" used very much. the last time was in a video game called "Wizardry" (one of the races of creatures you could play as was called "Mooks").
posted by moz at 9:08 PM on January 9, 2002

here in the tri-state area, especially among us a italian-americans(half in my case) mook means all of the above-mentioned with an added connotation of gullibilty. actually the "outer-borough" types the NY press mentioned(I am the son of a Queens native) are the people who invented the word...according to an article by David Foster Wallace, it is used by those in the porn industry to desribe their customers, which should give you the best idea of the terms true meaning. Now this mook's gotta shuffle off to watch his nightly Homicide rerun. G'night all and may St. Isidore of Seville bless you all.
posted by jonmc at 9:57 PM on January 9, 2002

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