this is racist, offensive, incredibly stupid October 23, 2003 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Ok, I'll be the first to say that this is racist, offensive, incredibly stupid, and I'm blown away that Miguel was the one to post it, especially considering what his reaction would be if the word "Jew" were substituted for "Arab". I don't think this post belongs on MeFi.
posted by dejah420 to MetaFilter-Related at 7:17 AM (128 comments total)

Is this going to be like the discussion of asian accents that we had a few weeks ago?
posted by bshort at 7:20 AM on October 23, 2003


CardosoFilter?
posted by oaf at 7:33 AM on October 23, 2003


*adds dejah420 o the list*

What list?

There is no list.

[the post was harmless but forgettable, this thread will start an argument that has little do do with the original post, and I'll end up with a lower opinion of at least 3 or 4 people who write longwinded multi-paragraph descriptions of their personal feelings on some dumb subject only tangentially related to the original post in question]
posted by Space Coyote at 7:45 AM on October 23, 2003


Let me tell you 'bout Ahab The Arab
The Sheik of the burning sand
He had emeralds and rubies just dripping off 'a him
And a ring on every finger of his hands

He wore a big ol' turban wrapped around his head
And a scimitar by his side
And every evening about midnight
He'd jump on his camel named Clyde...and ride
posted by bargle at 7:47 AM on October 23, 2003


dont worry dejah420, this offensive observation will be axed by the site administrator.
I once called miguel out in metatalk for a similar comment and the thread disappeared. perhaps if one is Jewish, then the jokes are really a-ok.
see, now the black slapping, good hearted migs will come blustering in like bonnet twiller. It will be FUN.

we wouldn't want to feed any trolls now would we....
{chuckle}
posted by clavdivs at 7:53 AM on October 23, 2003


I'm mixed here.

1. dejah420 is kinda right.
2. We didn't even make it past ten threads without a MeTa callout for one, did we?
3. "black slapping?"

Although, I don't think there's be as much offense at "random Jewish curse generator" as thought. I'd expect some kind of Coffee-Talk-esque Mike Myers thing or something.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:57 AM on October 23, 2003


Knowing what I do of Miguel, I find it difficult to believe that he meant this is any sort of racially divisive way.
posted by UncleFes at 7:58 AM on October 23, 2003


None of the curses are aimed at Arabs (nor, it seems, any other racial grouping), and no negative stereotyping can be discerned by this sensitive homolefty.

Can't we keep our powder dry until we see some clear cut examples? This is a hee-yooge waste of time/electrons/energy.
posted by dash_slot- at 8:02 AM on October 23, 2003


As hard as it is for me not to condemn him, I have a sniggling suspicion that had this thing been posted by anyone else but Miguel, it would have slipped off into the obscurity that it deserves.
posted by crunchland at 8:02 AM on October 23, 2003


oh boy, oh golly, sorry about that typo, should read "back". Not "Black".

I find it difficult to believe that he meant this is any sort of racially divisive way.

you may not, but others do. Would that be racially "inclusive" then?
posted by clavdivs at 8:03 AM on October 23, 2003


really dash, go do some googling about arabic cultures and insults. It may not offend the 'homolefty' in you but it may well offend others.
posted by clavdivs at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2003


I skipped the post, as I thought the site linked was an obvious reference to



I skipped the post without bothering with it as I thought the joke both obvious and a bit thin. My vote would be dumb yes, but offensive not particularly, to me at least. But that's just me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:14 AM on October 23, 2003


Did I mention that I skipped the post?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:15 AM on October 23, 2003


"May an unknown amount of furious crustaceans moon piss above your crooked George Foreman Grill."

What am I missing? Or had we gone a month without a MeTa post calling someone racist and it was time again? Are all the insult generators inside the post also hurtful? Now I see why living in "interesting times" is a curse.
posted by yerfatma at 8:34 AM on October 23, 2003


Miguel is so solly!
posted by eyeballkid at 8:36 AM on October 23, 2003


and who would Klinger be? you?, migs?, a random person receiving the random insult.
my vote, Klinger pic not really funny, hence a waste of bandwidth IMO.
So stavs, all you can muster is an american television show character for a retort?

well, let us augment that somehow.
I know, how about this for insults... just work with the raw link and see if you can discern anything out of the usual. Not much?

so, a man makes a movie about the prophet (praise be His name) then starts doing slasher films?

now, is that an insult?
posted by clavdivs at 8:37 AM on October 23, 2003


I'll be the first to say that this is racist, offensive, incredibly stupid

It's racist and offensive to suggest that Arabs are good at inventive curses, or that Arabic lends itself to such?

Or could it merely be the case that the curses take a form traditionally associated with Arabic curses (May bignum foo bar in your baz)?

the no-speaka-de-hinglish at the top is pushing it, though
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:41 AM on October 23, 2003


"Arab" is a race?
posted by mischief at 8:42 AM on October 23, 2003


No way. It's "Arabic" only in the sense that the format always begins with "May ..." (which I guess is assumed to be a hallmark of Arabic "insults"). The rest of the "insult" is random nonsense that has no correlation to Arabs or anyone else. I can't see how it's either racist or offensive, unless the assumption that Arabs make insults beginning with "May..." is itself derogatory (which I don't see).

If you think this is somehow offensive to Arabs, I'd suggest ratcheting back on the sensitivity meter: "May an imaginary number of strange Mr. Hankeys sing the rap song "I like big bison carcasses" to poopie poopie poop poopity poop poop poopie poop poop poop while laying on Mike's chicken ranch."

(on preview, what ROU_Xenophobe said)
posted by pardonyou? at 8:43 AM on October 23, 2003


Are you on drugs, clav? I wasn't making a retort of any kind.

To simplify it for you, I thought that the site that Miguel linked to was riffing (by using 'Arab' as a descriptor) on the running joke in the MASH series wherein Klinger (who was ostensibly of Arab descent) would hurl insults that were variations on "May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits" (one I remember from my childhood viewings, still) and so on. The generator at the site creates little thinglets that are similar in structure, you see, to Klinger's rarely-funny little curses.

Perhaps I explained it badly or obtusely the first time.

So I thought the joke was therefore both thin and unfunny, as I mentioned. Which is why I skipped the post, as I mentioned.

Now calm down, and pull your head in.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:44 AM on October 23, 2003


We didn't even make it past ten threads...

SAFETY FIRST!
NINE 0
Threads Without a
MeTa Callout

posted by soyjoy at 8:45 AM on October 23, 2003


I think using the word 'Racist' so frequently and indiscriminately is turning this site into the kind of ongoing ideological witchhunt Joe McCarthy might have admired, and again reminds me of the Homerpalooza episode where that well-intentioned-but-vapid girl screams "Hate Crime!!" at Homer because she thinks he's, like, a total narc.
posted by dhoyt at 8:53 AM on October 23, 2003


hey stav, you skipped the post?
posted by xmutex at 8:54 AM on October 23, 2003


Stavros, you should be ashamed of yourself. It wasn't Klinger who flung them insults, it was The Sheik from Cannonball Run II, starring Jack Elam (RIP) and Jamie Farr.

Tsk, tsk.
posted by ColdChef at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2003


!
posted by hama7 at 8:56 AM on October 23, 2003


If anything the Easterbrookian reference to Miguel's ethnicity should be more offensive than Miguel's link which was as harmless as any silly ethnic caricatures you see on the Simpsons, SNL, just about every comedy skit show, etc.

Of course I find this constant sacred importance we place on group identities the most offensive thing.
posted by dgaicun at 8:57 AM on October 23, 2003


It wasn't Klinger who flung them insults, it was The Sheik

Eeek! Wait, I'm sure Klinger did it too, CC! I thought the Cannonball bit was a semi-sly reference back to Jamie Farr's Klinger bit...

Damn. If you're right my brain is in worse shape than I thought. But then, I haven't seen an episode of MASH in well over a decade, so I might be wrong. In which case I apologize to clav for tweaking him for not getting it, as you'd have to be inside my synaptic-graveyard of a brain to actually get it.

Also, did I mention that I skipped that particular post?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:00 AM on October 23, 2003


It should be noted that Cannonball Run II also included Telly Savalas, Marilu Henner, Shirley MacLaine, Susan Anton, Catherine Bach, Don Knotts, Ricardo Montalban, Jim Nabors, Charles Nelson Reilly, Mel Tillis, Abe Vigoda, Arte Johnson, and Frank Sinatra...so you can almost be forgiven.
posted by ColdChef at 9:00 AM on October 23, 2003


(Holy crap, this is getting weird.)

Vindicated?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:03 AM on October 23, 2003


Wasn't Klinger Lebanese?
posted by konolia at 9:09 AM on October 23, 2003


Klinger was a gay woman? What show was I watching?
posted by ColdChef at 9:10 AM on October 23, 2003


And I guess this thread means that "You might be a redneck if..." posts will be unacceptable.
posted by konolia at 9:10 AM on October 23, 2003


Also, my extreme apologies for questioning the wonderchicken's quoting mojo
posted by ColdChef at 9:11 AM on October 23, 2003


No sweat, CC. I'm glad I'm not quite as immersed in my own fantasy world as I thought I might be for a few minutes there. And now, to bed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:15 AM on October 23, 2003


It was carnac, you morons.

That Johnny Carson - what a racist.

Hi, CC! Where ya been?
posted by yhbc at 9:19 AM on October 23, 2003


Don't know. I skipped your mentioning of skipping the post.
posted by walrus at 9:21 AM on October 23, 2003


Oh crap millions of people have left comments in here whilst I wasn't looking. I meant to reply to this, but that was hours ago.
posted by walrus at 9:23 AM on October 23, 2003



i think we should chop miguels hands off.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:25 AM on October 23, 2003


as a post-leaning irishman, i intend to get stinking drunk and curse the entire bunch of you.
posted by quonsar at 9:48 AM on October 23, 2003


as an irish-italian crossbreed, I tend to get stinking drunk and then shoot you while you eat pasta.
posted by jonmc at 10:07 AM on October 23, 2003


Fo'shiguel my Miguel!
posted by tss at 10:16 AM on October 23, 2003


It's racist and offensive to suggest that Arabs are good at inventive curses, or that Arabic lends itself to such?

No...but it's racist to generate random nonsense, then slap an "Arabic" label on it, and add the comment of "We no speak english so nice so some of these make no sense perfectly. We many sorries."

Ha, fucking, ha. Oh, those silly towel-head, camel-jockeys...look, they can't speak english, they make funny sounds...ha, ha, ha.


If anything the Easterbrookian reference to Miguel's ethnicity should be more offensive than Miguel's link which was as harmless as any silly ethnic caricatures you see...
.

It bears no relation to the other insult generators in that it has NOTHING to do with how Arabic is spoken, written, or read. It bears no resemblance to how people who learn English as an additional language structure their sentences. It's an attack with random noise on a particular sect of people.

Now, imagine, if you will...if the same site...with the same text were labeled with any other sect of the world's population. Just because people from the Middle East are America's whipping boy of the moment doesn't make it justifiable or right.

And yes, I would have posted this Metatalk no matter who posted the original link...as a rule, Miguel and I get along. But I know how proud he is of his heritage...and I wanted him to think about how proud Middle Easterners...all of the various flavors thereupon... are of theirs.

Wasn't Klinger Lebanese?

Yes, he is.
posted by dejah420 at 10:21 AM on October 23, 2003


As a descendant of Puritans, I intend to press you all with heavy stones until you confess or perish.
posted by rusty at 10:24 AM on October 23, 2003


Having watched a couple of Mash episodes this week I can confirm that Stav's memory is correct - Klinger wished curses in two different episodes that I've just seen (and more I'm sure). But come on, that green polka dot outfit is not one of the better ones - he's done much better in his hats - bad choice of graphics, do try again please.

Now I'm having bad flashbacks to Cannonball Run. Argh. Thanks ever so.
posted by batgrlHG at 10:26 AM on October 23, 2003


Ha, fucking, ha. Oh, those silly towel-head, camel-jockeys...look, they can't speak english, they make funny sounds...ha, ha, ha.

Hmmmm. Sounds like you're the only one who inferred that. Maybe you should just email Miguel and ask him what his intentions were, rather than be clowned repeatedly in what's sure to be a 100+ post thread full of people who clearly don't feel as vehement as you.
posted by dhoyt at 10:29 AM on October 23, 2003


Dejah: I honestly hadn't looked at the post that way, though I did read through dozens of insults and found nothing remotely offensive. Still, I'm still sorry if it insulted anyone. I would have thought its very silliness absolved the generator from any accusation of racism but I realize and accept that, if it offended some people - specially someone as cosmopolitan, literary and worldly as yourself - then it was offensive. No silly joke is worth that.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:36 AM on October 23, 2003


a 100+ post thread full of people who clearly don't feel as vehement as you.

Which of course has nothing to do with how racist the post was but rather how racist the MeFi community itself is.
posted by sudama at 10:37 AM on October 23, 2003


Is this post something you'd have to read to comment about?
posted by xmutex at 10:39 AM on October 23, 2003


Dejah: I honestly hadn't looked at the post that way, though I did read through dozens of insults and found nothing remotely offensive. Still, I'm still sorry if it insulted anyone.

Apology accepted...and in the vein of accepting responsibility, I admit that I'm a little hair-trigger responsive when it comes to making fun of people from the middle east. I've been facing a lot of racism personally of late, and I believe it may have made me hyper-sensitive.
posted by dejah420 at 10:58 AM on October 23, 2003


Thank you, dejah! In exchange, I promise to be a little more sensitive from now on.

*fizzy sounds from complex psychic transference of extra, unwanted sensitivity from dejah420 to needy me*

Here's an interesting, genuine list of Turkish curses - and blessings! - as a peace offering. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:05 AM on October 23, 2003


Hooray! I'm late the game, but I finally get to claim greater authority simply because I am of Arabic descent.

Didn't really bother me. It seemed more based on a quaint verbal form,mostlikely invented in literature or Popeye cartoons: the elaborate curse, than anything contemporarily Arab. And even when it did toss in Arab stereotypes, it was pretty zany, scoring low on any genuine ill-feeling racism.

I mean, come on, who could be offended by this:
May 62 sex-crazed telemarketers remark "Oops, I crapped my pants" to poopie poopie poop poopity poop poop poopie poop poop poop in the vicinity of your silicone enhanced scooter.

Please to take Miguel down from the cross.
posted by scarabic at 11:10 AM on October 23, 2003


Wait, what was all that hoohah a couple years ago about Ellen. I thought she was Lebanese? Or am I getting her confused with Danny Thomas again?
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:13 AM on October 23, 2003


But if you take Miguel down from the cross, he'll only rise again...
posted by five fresh fish at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2003




None of the curses are aimed at Arabs (nor, it seems, any other racial grouping), and no negative stereotyping can be discerned by this sensitive homolefty.

This sensitive homolefty agrees with dash.

I kinda saw it as comparable to "yo mama" jokes, taking a verbal structure originally associated with one group and riffing off it. (the insults generated were lame tho.)
As for miguel's religion having anything to do with it: ???
posted by amberglow at 11:50 AM on October 23, 2003


"(the insults generated were lame tho.)"

Thank you! I thought so, but then just figured my sense of humor was out of whack, since no one else mentioned it.

If anything was offensive on the site it was the opening that dejah420 quoted earlier:
"We no speak english so nice so some of these make no sense perfectly. We many sorries."
Ugh.
But the insults themselves - just stupid. And in no way reflective of any of the Arabic humor I've encountered. The families I stayed with in Morocco sat around after dinner and do nothing but tell jokes and stores, many of which were political - mocking their own leaders as well as those of other countries. But they'd probably have a laugh over this as being part of silly American humor/misperceptions.

Or at least, that's the way I think it would have gone down in the 80s. Not sure about the humor now.
posted by batgrlHG at 12:05 PM on October 23, 2003


(the insults generated were lame tho.)

this is the crux of the matter. Intention. What are the posters intentions. i will not apologize for being a shrill this morning and i do not think miguel is racist. I was offended the light use of arabic insults which, as we know...right, are not to be taken lightly. here, wherever that is, coldchef can come in and make me laugh and somehow that disproves all the contention, follow?, just change the humor and the subject takes a different form.

As for miguel's religion having anything to do with it: ???
that is a good question which i cannot answer, heck, at first i thought Migs was catholic, is that an insult? no, because correction of behavior is the only thing we have, IMO.

prejudice stemming from an emotional response is at least understandable given the criteria for prejudice. What I find offensive is the posting of said thread and it being, well, a "pot-shot".

Intention.
denial is it's disguise when challenged or the third route, which miguel did, blanket apology.

still back to square one.
(stavs, in my area, we have a holyman, Sufi, of great stature to the large Lebanese community around here and in America. He has council to the President and a fascinating view on life.)
posted by clavdivs at 12:25 PM on October 23, 2003


Please to take Miguel down from the cross.

Not so fast. You may have glossed over it, but the MeFi community is actually a hotbed for Racists. C'mon, scrarabic, clearly you took great offense, you just didn't want to admit it to such a hotheaded, torch-wielding racist mob as this one, right? ;)
posted by dhoyt at 12:38 PM on October 23, 2003


A hotbed (ahem)
posted by dhoyt at 1:12 PM on October 23, 2003


My first thought on seeing that thread was "hey, what about all the great Yiddish insults?"

Favorite (roughly translated): "May you end up a chandelier: hang all day and burn all night!"

Second favorite (this one Yiddish-Brooklynese): "May you get an injury that workman's compensation won't cover!"

In other words, I didn't see anything offensive about the post even if had indeed featured Jewish insults rather than (pseudo-)Arab insults--making up cool insults is a kind of cultural art form. There are even people who publish entire professional journals on the differences between various cultures' insults.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:17 PM on October 23, 2003


This sensitive homolefty agrees with dash.

This insensitive, frothing Freeper agrees with dash, too.

But I can also fully understand the sensitivity that arises in the presence of personally directed racism, especially in the context of the times. However, one would think it should be obvious to anyone that Miguel knows this more than most anyone, even before reading his gracious remarks above.

perhaps if one is Jewish, then the jokes are really a-ok.
posted by clavdivs at 7:53 AM PST on October 23
I find it difficult to believe that he meant this is any sort of racially divisive way.
posted by UncleFes
you may not, but others do. Would that be racially "inclusive" then?
posted by clavdivs at 8:03 AM PST on October 23


Congratulations, clavdivs. Really. Nice job. Postulating "Jewishness" as motivation here, while whining about "offensive observations" in the same breath? Would that be racially "inclusive" then? Or just the usual hypocrisy then?

But say, I did enjoy your free association prose poem above...much obliged.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:25 PM on October 23, 2003


Now I'm really confused. I thought Jews and Arabs were the same race. So, if you do swap 'Arab' and 'Jew', does it really make any difference.

Oh, forget it, I think I am wandering along my own tangent again.
posted by mischief at 1:28 PM on October 23, 2003


"Look, all I'm saying is you put a Jew next to an Arab and I can't tell the difference"
- Peter Griffin to Israeli settlers
posted by insomnyuk at 1:35 PM on October 23, 2003


Yeah, and Irishmen of the (Orange, Unionist, Protestant) persuasion are the same race as Irishmen of the (Green, Republican, Catholic) persuasion.

Sometimes, groups hate & kill their racial brethren.

Hell, we're all brothers under the skin. There's only one race, right?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:53 PM on October 23, 2003


I don't see the racism here. Humor pushes boundaries, and should, but they don't seem particularly stretched in this case. And I am very opposed to meanspirited "making fun of" any given group. I do prefer Miguel's link to "real" curses here, though. Here's a fun one that he's seen me reference before: Berber sayings.

I was offended the light use of arabic insults which, as we know...right, are not to be taken lightly

Huh? Who gets to dictate how they "are to be taken?"
posted by rushmc at 2:21 PM on October 23, 2003


Perhaps now is a good time to chime in with an Arabic proverb my Dad taught me:

"Everyone cries injustice over the amount of wealth God granted them, but nobody complains about their own allotment of intelligence."
posted by scarabic at 2:40 PM on October 23, 2003


stavros, if you didn't like the thread, why didn't you just skip it ;-)

I immediately made the same association as you did with Klinger (the result of many years of watching the show religiously each and every day through my teenagerhood and even now when I get a chance) and I am pleased (I think) to report that I viewed an episode of M*A*S*H as recently as last week. The fleas of a thousand camels gag and dozens along the same line were usually made following the scuppering of whatever his latest ruse was in trying to be declared insane and, therefore, escape from Korea.

The racist flag gets flown way too often here, in my opinion. There is a big difference between poking fun at stereotypes and denigrating someone because of their race and Miguel's thread was nowhere near this.
posted by dg at 2:53 PM on October 23, 2003


May you have a son named after you soon.
ooo asparagirl: those were good--and mean! (a good insult needs to have a real bite to it) : >

making up cool insults is an art form, but sometimes things are lost because they're intended for the same group as the person making them. The one i quoted from asparagirl's link is lost on people who don't know that it's wishing someone dead (you never use the name of someone living for a child).

I hope no one really was offended by miguel's link tho.
posted by amberglow at 3:12 PM on October 23, 2003


amberglow amberglow, what a freak!
glows in the dark, can't play hide-n-seek!
posted by quonsar at 3:45 PM on October 23, 2003


Whatever q, your gondola's so fat she put a smock on and got harpooned.
posted by eddydamascene at 3:54 PM on October 23, 2003


Y'all realise that deja420's post was generated with the random MetaTalk-Take-Offence-Generatorâ„¢, yeah?
posted by Blue Stone at 3:57 PM on October 23, 2003


amberglow amberglow, what a freak!
glows in the dark, can't play hide-n-seek!


quonsar, may the ambulance taking you to the hospital after a stroke only get 4 flats! ; >
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on October 23, 2003


Seriously, how many times do we have to do this before people realize racism and stereotyping are not the same thing. Racism has to do with the belief that race makes you superior to others, and/or discriminating against people based on this belief. Stereotype is an idea about a certain sect of people (sometimes willfully believed, sometimes not) that you believe you can apply to everyone from that group. For example, if my stereotype was that black people are stupid and lazy, and white people are hard workers, I'd be exhibiting racism. However, if my stereotype was simply that people of Arabic descent (or any other ethnic group) may use what I find to be funny syntax errors, or oddities, when learning to speak English, this would be a simple stereotype, whether it was largely true or whether it was a complete falsehood. Regardless, unless I think this somehow accounts for my own superiority over them as a thinking being, it's not racism.
posted by The God Complex at 6:00 PM on October 23, 2003


what's your intention in pointing out this stereotype tho? I think that has a lot to do with what you call it.
posted by amberglow at 6:11 PM on October 23, 2003


Usually, it's for purposes of humour. I didn't find the generated quotes to be terribly funny, or funny at all, but I think the point is the same.
posted by The God Complex at 6:46 PM on October 23, 2003


This thread self-deconstructs in a most postmodern way.
posted by y2karl at 6:47 PM on October 23, 2003


but that's kinda the point i think, TGC. What makes someone choose someone else's ethnicity or race or religion as the thing to make fun of? What's the motivation? In general I mean. I know when you're a kid it's funny pointing out differences and otherness, but as an adult? Apart from this thing, which wasn't good, and didn't generate good insults, even from a stereotypical standpoint.
posted by amberglow at 7:05 PM on October 23, 2003


Choosing somebody's religion is making fun of the beliefs they hold, which is radically different from making fun of something that has no fundamental connection to their beliefs. Poking fun at something as inane as lanugage barriers isn't really an indictment of somebody's race, because I could just as easily speak Japanese as my native language--ethnicity isn't a direct correlation to race.

Humour about language mixups is essentially harmless if it's not derogatory. Combined with other stereotypes it probably approach something more akin to racism.

As for why we choose it, well, personally, I think it's funny because it's universal. Nobody escapes the hardship of learning another language, and MetaFilter is an example that many of us never escape the embarrassment of our native English ;)
posted by The God Complex at 7:14 PM on October 23, 2003


Approaches, rather.

See?
posted by The God Complex at 7:18 PM on October 23, 2003


Stereotype is an idea about a certain sect of people (sometimes willfully believed, sometimes not) that you believe you can apply to everyone from that group.

I submit that it is also possible to play with stereotypes without believing them (which isn't to say that doing so will always be (a) humorous or (b) funny). Does anyone really think white men can't jump? Believing that stereotypes reveal some fundamental truth and acting upon that belief is what's foolish and offensive.
posted by rushmc at 7:23 PM on October 23, 2003


Exactly. Intentional irony as a form of parody is something I find to be quite funny on occasion, and I employ it occasionally, but I tend to do it more around familiar company so it isn't misconstrued.
posted by The God Complex at 7:30 PM on October 23, 2003


I think humor mocking other people's attempts to use our language is rarely devoid of other ideas about the people mocked. It's part of a whole package of usually derogatory stereotypes.

and It's very rare to find an example of playing with stereotypes done well (especially if it's not done by a member of the same group being depicted), and intended for an audience larger than the group referenced. South Park does it successfully, and Mel Brooks has always been able to...anyone else?
posted by amberglow at 7:41 PM on October 23, 2003


The Simpsons, Futurama, etc.

I think humor mocking other people's attempts to use our language is rarely devoid of other ideas about the people mocked. It's part of a whole package of usually derogatory stereotypes.


Define derogatory, if you will. For example, a joke about an Asian person eating sushi would be a stereotype. Is it a particularly damaging stereotype? Not unless you're a fish. Is it true of all Asian people? Obviously not, and I think most people that used that stereotype to make a joke would understand that, as would the audience receiving it. Now, if every Asian person on television spoke with a thick accent and ate sushi, I think we'd have a problem--that is part of the proble, actually. But if it's a one-off, or an ironic dig at stereotypes, then it's clear sailing in my books, as long as it's not willfully malicious in nature.

There's often some truth in the more ethnically-centered stereotypes, which is often what makes them funny. The danger lies in believing they actually apply to everyone, and, even moreso, in acting on those beliefs in a discriminating manner. Ethnicity does not equal race, however, which some people seem to forget.

Anyway, that's enough of that. -7.
posted by The God Complex at 8:07 PM on October 23, 2003


which isn't to say that doing so will always be (a) humorous or (b) funny

Er. (b) was supposed to be "appropriate."
posted by rushmc at 8:42 PM on October 23, 2003


I think humor mocking other people's attempts to use our language is rarely devoid of other ideas about the people mocked.

But sometimes they make some funny sounds, and to pretend otherwise is to deny reality. You should hear me trying to speak Spanish! I guess what it comes down to is whether it is possible to appreciate differences without inevitably "mocking."
posted by rushmc at 8:44 PM on October 23, 2003


you can appreciate differences and even laugh at people without using or resorting to stereotypes, is my point. Mocking someone's use of language becomes stereotypical and/or racist when it's connected to and part of a whole depiction of an entire group of people in formulaic and oversimplified images. For example: a very loud, garishly dressed American tourist who's part of a tour group of similarly dressed and acting tourists mangling French in Paris is a stereotype. The mangling French part doesn't have to be.
posted by amberglow at 9:07 PM on October 23, 2003


Aww look, amberglow's gone and gotten himself a lil' crush on quonsar. :-)

I think every particpant in this thread should go see the Broadway musical Avenue Q--which is sort of "Sesame Street" for adults, complete with puppets and guest-starring Gary Coleman--and take note of the hi-larious song "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" in particular. Partial lyrics:

Everyone's a little bit racist today
Everyone's a little bit racist, okaaaaaay
Ethnic jokes may be uncouth
But you laugh because they're based on truth
Don't take them as personal attaaaaaaaacks
Everyone enjoys them
So relax!

posted by Asparagirl at 9:10 PM on October 23, 2003


I've been meaning to see that show, asparagirl

and shhh--I've had the hots for q for ages--he's a total megahottie ; >
posted by amberglow at 9:26 PM on October 23, 2003


Seen it three times already and own the CD. It's faaaaabulous!

Hey! You live near me! If you're free sometime between now and Oct 31st, wanna go see it? I've been meaning to get in one last trip to see it before I leave NYC for exile in icky barren culture-free Los Angeles.

quonsar will be so jealous, i bet he'll swoop in and grab you. win-win for everybody!
posted by Asparagirl at 10:02 PM on October 23, 2003


metafilter; institutionally racist.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:10 AM on October 24, 2003


Yes, I think there are a lot of us waiting for a little swoop-and-grab action, Q. How about smocking the smock instead of just talking the talk?
posted by taz at 3:29 AM on October 24, 2003


"but I realize and accept that, if it offended some people - specially someone as cosmopolitan, literary and worldly as yourself - then it was offensive."

then the less cosmopolitan, literary and worldly (i.e. those of us who couldn't afford to travel much or to get a good education) can just go fuck themselves right?

anyway dejah was pretty quick on the trigger but I was kind of appalled by the fpp, too. I mean, I don't exactly look forward to see watermelon-joke fpp's here right?

and clavdivs "blackslapping" misspelling in this context is utter genius

about the "you may be a redneck if..." comment: it's not that rural Southerners exactly represent an oppressed ethnic group, exactly. unless you believe the "we're losing this country" crap, which you probably do. (to quote Chris Rock: If whites are losing this country, black people ain't certainly the ones who are winning it)
posted by matteo at 4:22 AM on October 24, 2003


oh, sorry, asparagirl...i'd love to see that (and Wicked) but i can't really spend money--i'm going away on the 4th for a week and still saving up for that...and why LA? (insert LA stereotypes here)
posted by amberglow at 5:48 AM on October 24, 2003


For example: a very loud, garishly dressed American tourist who's part of a tour group of similarly dressed and acting tourists mangling French in Paris is a stereotype. The mangling French part doesn't have to be.

It may be a stereotype, but do you deny that it contains some truth? And if it does, is it right to deny or ignore that kernel of truth in an effort to not offend (perhaps so if your priority is to be inoffensive rather than to understand)? Again, to me, the problem would arise if one sought to lazily generalize such traits to ALL Americans. A correlation is not a rule. Certainly one can question the accuracy of the proposed correlation, or its usefulness as a predictor, but if one simply denies it outright because one deems it offensive, one loses credibility among those who can see the reality of the correlation for themselves.

No one ever invites ME to see Broadway musicals. sniff.
posted by rushmc at 6:49 AM on October 24, 2003


then the less cosmopolitan, literary and worldly (i.e. those of us who couldn't afford to travel much or to get a good education) can just go fuck themselves right?

Come on, Matteo, you know what I meant. If something offends someone who's sophisticated, i.e., seen and heard it all, and therefore more thick-skinned and tolerant (or should be), it's quite probably offensive to a lot of people. Quite the opposite of what you imply.

For instance, I could be offended by your suggestion that I posted some sort of racist "watermelon-joke" post but I'm not because I know you're fully conscious of your own nonsense and your charismatic Italian charm. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:01 AM on October 24, 2003


Does anyone really think white men can't jump?

Yes. Don't hang out with b-ball fans much, do you?
posted by languagehat at 7:26 AM on October 24, 2003


It's intolerance of intolerance that really gets my panties in a bunch, let me tell you.

Everyone's a damn racist if they say anything about someone that isn't exactly like themselves.
posted by rich at 7:38 AM on October 24, 2003


about the "you may be a redneck if..." comment: it's not that rural Southerners exactly represent an oppressed ethnic group, exactly

Well, that's arguable. The usual definition of a redneck is a poor, white southerner . So a lot of the mockery of them comes from economic, rather than ethnic prejudices(the alternative slur "trailer trash" underlines this point) See this work for details. But I'd be the last person on earth to argue that they can't be made fun of. far as I'm concerned, everyone's fair game, as long as you're funny and/or insightful.
posted by jonmc at 7:43 AM on October 24, 2003


"white men can't jump"
posted by walrus at 8:33 AM on October 24, 2003


Amberglow-

LA, because as much as I loathe the place, being that it's basically the polar opposite of my native New York, my fiance is from there and lives there and needs to continue living there for his job (TV writer). Cruel fate meant choosing between the city I love and the man I love. Both have their considerable charms but only one can keep me warm at night, so it's matrimony and driving on the 405 for me, natch.

In other words, I'm getting married a week from tomorrow and moving there the day after. The things we do for love...
posted by Asparagirl at 9:34 AM on October 24, 2003


I don't exactly look forward to see watermelon-joke fpp's here right?

there is a rather hilarious shocking photoshop going around depicting colin and condi sharing a big chunk of watermelon. i think it originated from some guy on MSNTV.
posted by quonsar at 9:48 AM on October 24, 2003


Just for comparison - here's an unthinking and blatant case of MeFi racist speech....
"So password, what you're saying is that the reparations for slavery should be spent on things you choose rather than on what the people who are being compensated might actually want them spent on?"

I kind of think of it like giving money to the poor crack-whore on the side of the street. If I give them money, they'll go and waste it on crack...
- posted by jmd82 at 6:49 PM CET on October 24
posted by dash_slot- at 10:09 AM on October 24, 2003


Potter: Klinger, how can you be king of the gypsies when you're Lebanese?
Klinger: Good question. I was stolen from the gypsies by two ruthless Lebanese peasants who brought me up as their own flesh and blood.
Hawkeye, enjoying himself: I like this!

Episode: Hawkeye Get Your Gun


Klinger: In the words of my people, may your life be an oasis surrounded by waving palms, warm breezes, and spit-free camels.

Episode: Margaret's Marriage
posted by t r a c y at 10:26 AM on October 24, 2003


aspara--mazel tov! (and you can always drag him back here to work on the daily show or something--or when you have kids) Let me know if you want to meet for a drink or coffee tho before you leave : >

It may be a stereotype, but do you deny that it contains some truth? And if it does, is it right to deny or ignore that kernel of truth in an effort to not offend (perhaps so if your priority is to be inoffensive rather than to understand)?
Stereotypes are about the opposite of understanding, i think. They're immediate pigeonholes that eliminate the need for any understanding or knowledge of individuals at all. Whether a stereotype contains any amount of truth or not is kinda besides the point. A person who uses a stereotype isn't interested in understanding, or they wouldn't resort to such a thing, but would take individuals as they come. Lazy generalizing is something to be avoided at best, and has led to violence at worst.
posted by amberglow at 10:32 AM on October 24, 2003


Sorry, when I wrote that analogy, I didn't intend for the crack whore to be compared to the blacks. My intent was to compare the giving out of money and the use of money. I did NOT mean to equate crack-whores to blacks, and it is my mistake for not making that distinction. I was agreeing with password that reperations should not be simply given out to blacks (or anybody for that matter), but rather in the form of something constructive. I simply think handing out money for reperations is a bad idea b/c the point should be to uplift the group you're helping out, and there is too much room for abuse by simply handing out x amount of money. I used the crack-whore example to point out this potential for abuse and people are reluctant to accept help in forms other than money sometimes. I did not intend to mean that black people would waste the money on crack, but I still think spending it on a Mercedes is a waste of money missing the point of reperations.
posted by jmd82 at 12:13 PM on October 24, 2003


A person who uses a stereotype isn't interested in understanding, or they wouldn't resort to such a thing, but would take individuals as they come. Lazy generalizing is something to be avoided at best, and has led to violence at worst.

But stereotyping is just one example of the manner in which our brains work (grouping, organizing, categorizing), albeit a negative example. It would be impossible for us to literally judge each new thing, person or situation from scratch, with no reference to prior knowledge or experience. I've already agreed with your last sentence quoted above, but I think it's simply false to deny the mechanism which our brains use to assess something new, which is to compare it to things already experienced and to try to note similarities and establish a pattern. Although we are all individuals, we're all human and therefore fit into that pattern, as well as numerous sub-patterns. Acknowledging this need not lead to bigotry.
posted by rushmc at 12:26 PM on October 24, 2003


Although we are all individuals, we're all human and therefore fit into that pattern, as well as numerous sub-patterns. Acknowledging this need not lead to bigotry.

You're right, rush. I think tho, that people don't just group and categorize and try to "make sense", but ascribe a "worthiness" when they stereotype, which is usually pejorative. While grouping and organizing is hotwired into our brains, putting value judgments on the person being grouped and organized isn't. It's learned, and by perpetuating stereotypes we just ensure that future generations learn them too, which sucks.
posted by amberglow at 12:48 PM on October 24, 2003


"Does anyone really think white men can't jump?

Don't hang out with b-ball fans much, do you?"


When I was thirteen, I could dunk. I was five-eleven, and about 120 pounds.

Now, I'm six-five, but too fucking fat to heft my bulk more than about three inches off the floor.

Maybe it should be "Over-the-hill sedentary white men can't jump."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:58 PM on October 24, 2003


I prefer NOT to jump!

/bartleby
posted by UncleFes at 2:06 PM on October 24, 2003


mechanism which our brains use to assess something new, which is to compare it to things already experienced and to try to note similarities and establish a pattern

Aha. Except in the case of racial stereotyping, the presumed characteristcs of the person being perceived are frequently not based on any prior personal knowledge or expereince, but upon culturally transmitted information.

I agree that brains want to generalize, but those generalizations can be relied upon too much. There's an optimum point where we retain potentially useful information based on trusted sources, but don't load our brains with assumptions which may turn out to be false.
posted by scarabic at 2:33 PM on October 24, 2003


I think tho, that people don't just group and categorize and try to "make sense", but ascribe a "worthiness" when they stereotype, which is usually pejorative.

And that would be wrong to do, but I would maintain that the instinct to do that is probably also based in old hindbrain survival stuff. Which doesn't mean it can't be/shouldn't be reprogrammed.

/bartleby

LOL UncleFes.

I agree that brains want to generalize, but those generalizations can be relied upon too much. There's an optimum point where we retain potentially useful information based on trusted sources, but don't load our brains with assumptions which may turn out to be false.

I couldn't agree more. All I'm saying is don't try to ignore the whole process and just think that thinking good thoughts all the time will fix all the problems, because it is important to understand the underlying structure of and basis for these things.
posted by rushmc at 3:11 PM on October 24, 2003


jonmc: The usual definition of a redneck is a poor, white southerner . So a lot of the mockery of them comes from economic, rather than ethnic prejudices(the alternative slur "trailer trash" underlines this point)


heh.


" Ever noticed that people who believe in Creationism look really unevolved? In many parts of our troubled world, people are yelling 'Revolution!'. In Tennessee they're yelling 'Evolution! We want our thuuuuuuuuuuuuuumbs!'

Just don't bring shotguns to UFO sightings, OK?

So I'm sitting in a waffle house in Alabama drinking coffee and reading a book. Waitress comes up to me and says 'What you readin' for?' 'Not "What are you reading? But, What are you reading *FOR*. So *I* said: 'Oh, I guess I read for a lot of different reasons, an important one would be so that I don't end up being a fucking *WAFFLE WAITRESS*!!
So then this guy in the next booth stands up and says 'Well...looky here. Looks lak we got us a *reader*."

and finally, a classic:

OK folks. It's confession time.
It's a confession in the way of a question.
Is anyone here like me in that they are compelled ..obsessed .. And drawn
beyond their will. to Watch the Show Cops every Fucking night!
(Crowd cheers)
You mean I'm not alone?
Thank God. Thank God I thought I was alone
"Hi I'm Bill and I'm a cops watcher"
"Hi Bill!"
I AM OBSESSED by that Fucking show!
I can't .. I can't not watch it.
I'm like a guy with a sore tooth. I can't quit touching it.
"oww oww!
"Oh Cops is on"
"oww oww!"
I've never been in so many trailer parks! Ever!
Each night I'm in a different.. I could buy a trailer right now I know that much about them from the show Cops.
"oww oww"
"oww doublewide."
This is sick man!
And I love it because every night it's the same show. A woman has been beaten by her husband. Her head looks like a melon.
The cops are called on a domestic call because .the trailer next door.. couldn't hear the results of the American Gladiators Contest or something over her shrieking.
I don't know how they called. I don't know .. how they had a phone. But anyway the cops are called right and they come to the trailer. Her 14 little cracker spawn are peering around her Gingham Skirt! Their eyes are so close together the left eye is in the right socket and the right eye is in the left socket! Some genetic mutation due to inbreeding, I don't get it.
What does their family tree look like -- a stump?
And every time the woman stands up for the fucking guy.
Head looks like a melon!
(in Southern hick voice)
"He didn't mean to hit me Officer. He didn't mean to hit me.
He's a good man! Don't take him away! I fell asleep in the driveway and he run over my head with the truck! He's a good man. He don't mean no harm
He's passed out right now under the trailer right now with his dog Skeeter!"
FUCK Cops! Send in the SWAT team! She doesn't need children.
OK, and that's a judgment call and I'm making it, but its also happens to be true, which gives it the force that extra oomph! She needs no more children. Ok? Ok!
Can't support 'em! Can't feed 'em! Can't raise 'em! Don't even love 'em!
(makes the sound of a baby being born)
thunk!
Bring 'em on! Why don't you just get the fucking Cops camera to shine it up your fucking pussy and film the little criminal coming out!
This is crime prevention!
Here comes another illiterate unwanted child!
"Cuff him Banano!"
"Wahh Wahh"
Can you calm down on your Rutting just for a couple of seconds until we figure out this food air deal?!!
(redneck voice again)
"Well who are you to judge? Who are you to judge? What makes you think. He didn't mean to hit me officer!"

-- Bill Hicks
posted by matteo at 3:32 PM on October 24, 2003


"Heh heh heh. It's funny 'cos it's true!"
posted by keswick at 3:51 PM on October 24, 2003


dejah comments on yet more insensitivity in posts and comments. No news here, move on.
posted by wackybrit at 5:03 PM on October 24, 2003


matteo once again proves my points for me. What would I do without you?
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on October 24, 2003


Uh, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
posted by botono9 at 6:49 PM on October 24, 2003


The implication here is both Miguel and the site are at fault. Miguel didn't actually say anything offensive in his post. Does this mean people should not link to sites with potentially offensive content *at all*? Should they provide a warning? Would that be to insult other people's intelligence? I'm not entirely sure what the issue is here.
posted by nthdegx at 5:04 AM on October 25, 2003


That's an interesting point, nthdegx. Is Metafilter meant to only filter the polite parts of the web?
posted by rushmc at 6:11 AM on October 25, 2003


rushmc: Especially considering MeFi's userbase.
posted by mischief at 7:38 AM on October 25, 2003


Should they provide a warning?

Sure. We do "NSFW" when it's dirty stuff; why not "May Offend" or "Offensive" ?
We can be polite, while still filtering all parts of the web. Already there have been people fired for surfing sites found thru a FPP.
posted by amberglow at 9:08 AM on October 25, 2003


Already there have been people fired for surfing sites found thru a FPP.

Clearly the responsibility for that lies with them, not with us.
posted by rushmc at 10:18 AM on October 25, 2003


sure, but it points out that many of us do surf through at work, and when the wording of a post doesn't alert us, we may want to let people know...it's good community behavior, i think.
posted by amberglow at 10:49 AM on October 25, 2003


Amberglow, I think if the FPP makes clear the nature a linked site, I don't think a warning is neceassry. A cryptic or minimalist FPP might warrant a "NSFW" but an FPP that says "a website with pictures of ladies' breasts" fairly speaks for itself. In this instance, too, I think Miguel made pretty clear the nature of the linked site. I think the metafilter community, self policing as it is, needs to be careful, here. Do we want a "safe" community that never posts anything controversial, or are we willing to risk offence from time to time in order to achieve some edgy content? Personally, I love to know what's out there.

Of course, anyone is welcome to state their opinion. If the site itself is racist, I think that's a discussion for the relevant mefi thread. A discussion as to whether controversial content should be posted at all is certainly for metatalk, but I don't really see a case, here, for calling out Miguel.
posted by nthdegx at 3:50 PM on October 25, 2003


I wasn't calling out miguel, nth--I'm just saying that if the wording doesn't indicate offensive material, which happens a lot, i think (say if someone links to the KKK, but doesn't at all mention that in the wording of the fpp), a simple warning may be called for.

No one is calling for any restriction on what people can post or not, just that they think about warning people.
posted by amberglow at 6:08 PM on October 25, 2003


I don't think Miguel's a racist, and the post was only mildly offensive. Frankly, I'm more concerned about Miguel's incorrigible what's-on-my-mind-today posts.
posted by languagehat at 6:55 PM on October 25, 2003


No one is calling for any restriction on what people can post or not, just that they think about warning people.

No?

Ok, I'll be the first to say that this is racist, offensive, incredibly stupid, and I'm blown away that Miguel was the one to post it, especially considering what his reaction would be if the word "Jew" were substituted for "Arab". I don't think this post belongs on MeFi.
posted by rushmc at 6:01 AM on October 26, 2003


rushmc took the words out of my mouth. amberglow, I didn't mean to imply you were calling out Miguel, but this thread certainly does...
posted by nthdegx at 7:06 AM on October 26, 2003


Oh, I thought we had already moved past that a while ago : >
posted by amberglow at 8:02 AM on October 26, 2003


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