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Life at № 42

Officer, I was walking down the street when a gang of Micro-Aggressions attacked me!

bch

Yes, my friends, this is what we’re up against: the infantilization of society. A game of semantics so ridiculous that people making an effort not to be racist are deemed racist. Not because they’ve committed an act of racism, but because someone is desperately seeking victimization. Don’t get me wrong, real victimization exists, it’s alive and well. Someone saying they’re colour blind is not it. The discussion that ensued was equally ridiculous.

That mindset should be called anti-activism. It serves no purpose but to other and alienate. An exercise in pointless finger pointing. Engaging in such puerile and futile endeavours diminishes the many real obstacles faced by minorities every day. And yet again I’m reminded of Umberto Eco:

Pistola dell’ostrega

Repertorio di offese gentili (Repertoire of the Polite Offence)

“Political Correctness is a true and proper movement. It was born in American universities of liberal and radical inspiration, therefore a movement of the Left, with the aim of acknowledging multiculturalism and reducing some of the ingrained linguistic vices that established lines of discrimination confronting various minorities. The movement began by saying “blacks” and later “African Americans” instead of “ni—r”. Then, “gay” instead of the thousands of other notorious options reserved for disparaging homosexuals.

Naturally, this campaign for the purification of language has produced a genuine fundamentalism, which has led to the notable case in which some feminists have proposed to no longer say “history” since it begins with the pronoun “his”, as they thought this meant that history was “his”. Instead they propose we say “herstory” – her (hi)story – obviously ignoring the Greco-Latin etymology which has no gender implications.

However, the tendency has also assumed neo-conservative, or frankly, reactionary aspects. If you decide to no longer call people in wheelchairs handicapped or even disabled, but “differently-abled” and then you do not construct access ramps in public places, it is evident that you have hypocritically removed the word but not the problem. And the same is true if you substitute saying “indefinitely unoccupied” for fired or “in a program of transition to change careers” for unemployed. Who knows why a banker isn’t ashamed of his title and doesn’t insist on being called an operator in the field of savings. If it’s not working, changing the name won’t fix it.

On these and an infinity of other problems, Edoardo Crisafulli amuses his readers in his book “The Politically Correct and Linguistic Liberty”, which strips naked all of these contradictions. He takes on both sides, pro and con, and is always very entertaining. Reading it, however, I came to reflect on the curious case of our country (Italy). While Political Correctness exploded elsewhere, in our case it was diffused and instead we are always developing more and more Political Incorrectness. If, at one time, one would read a newspaper and a politician would say: “As a politics of convergence is emerging, one would prefer an asymptotic choice that eliminated single points of intersection”; today he prefers to say: “Dialogue? To Hell with that dirty son of a bitch!”

It is true that at one time in old Communist circles they used to label the adversary  “horseflies” and in speaking during meetings, they might have chosen to use a lexicon more insulting than that of a sailor, but that was in a time when there were no limits to what one could say – it was accepted as an affectation – as was once the case in the gentlemen’s clubs of venerated memory – where the gentlemen were not verbally inhibited. Today, instead, the technique of an insult is televised, a sign of unconscious faith in the valor of democracy.

It probably began with Bossi(Umberto Bossi of the right-wing Northern League)), in which his manly hardness obviously alludes to the softness of other people, and the appellation of “Berluskaz (Berlusconi + Cazzo)” was unmistakable but the thing spread widely. Stefano Bartezzaghi, writing under the name Venerdi di Repubblica, cites the play of insults today in circulation, but in good fun, all things considered.

Therefore, I too must contribute to the sweetness of Politically Incorrect Italian, and as I have consulted a series of dictionaries and dialects, permit me to suggest some polite and good-natured expressions with which to insult your enemy, graceful words:  pistola dell’ostrega, papaciugo, imbolsito, crapapelata, piffero, marocchino, pivellone, ciulandario, morlacco, badalucco, pischimpirola …”

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34 comments on “Officer, I was walking down the street when a gang of Micro-Aggressions attacked me!

  1. Esme upon the Cloud
    July 2, 2016

    It’s tragic, a real and actual shame that in attempting to right obvious wrongs, the pendulum swings on an arc for some people that ultimately leads to a place no better, than square one.

    ‘microaggression’ – Insane.

    – esme shaking her head sadly upon the Cloud

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Clare Flourish
    July 2, 2016

    Misgendering is a micro-aggression. It is a minor thing, but it matters.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. clubschadenfreude
    July 2, 2016

    seems like some people need to assume malice to pretend that they are somehow special.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. violetwisp
    July 2, 2016

    Oh, here we go again. This post is rather dull but I still feel like I have to wade in for balance.

    Political correctness (or ‘politeness’ or ‘consideration’, as it used to be called) has done wonders for society in terms of making everybody at least pause before they blurt out hurtful and harmful words.

    Of course you’re happy for it to be used where it personally affects you, that’s just common decency. But fairies forbid that you should be inconvenienced into changing how you think about people with disabilities or mental health problems, or any other group of people you’re not interested in, who have been marginalised by society. Can it go too far and leave us scratching our heads at times? Yes, indeed, just like anything else. But like everything else, language and perceptions are constantly evolving, and we need to move with that, and greet concern about language and treatment of every individual with respect, not hostility and derision.

    I’m so frustrated with the anti-PC movement. People should know better.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I don’t disagree with anything you say. Language is important. But you’ve got to admit that ascribing racism to someone who says they’re colour blind is highly problematic.
      I’m not against PC at all. I think it’s important- but its efficacy is dependent on people knowing how to differentiate what actually constitutes an aggression 😉

      Like

      • violetwisp
        July 2, 2016

        I don’t know, I’m happy to listen to people’s experiences and perceptions of racism. It’s something to ponder rather than attack.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Again, I don’t disagree. What I see as the mistake in that post is the generalization and automatic application of the racist label.
        Take my own minority; I insist a straight person can say the word queer without that being offensive. It depends on the context, not on the word itself.

        Like

      • darthtimon
        July 3, 2016

        Can we draw a line under this now? I see you’ve talked to Rae – have we clarified any misunderstandings that arose?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Line drawn!

        Liked by 1 person

      • darthtimon
        July 3, 2016

        Thank you. I realise this is an awkward request but would you be willing to talk to Carla?

        Like

      • Sure. I don’t have a problem with her. We can all get carried away sometimes. I certainly have…

        Liked by 1 person

      • darthtimon
        July 3, 2016

        Thank you.

        Like

    • And btw, I just loved the “fairies forbid”! Hilarious, appropriate and Not Meant as an Offence.

      Like

      • violetwisp
        July 2, 2016

        “In over 40 years of life and nearly 15 years as an anti-racist educator, I have yet to hear a White person say in reference to another White person, “I don’t see your color; I just see you.”

        In my experience, it is always applied to people of color (nearly always by White people).”

        Liked by 3 people

      • It’s applied to people who are different. I don’t see weight, I don’t see height, I don’t see colour,I don’t see nationality, I don’t see class, I don’t see age. There’s no malice in those approaches. They’re what we should aim for.

        Like

      • violetwisp
        July 2, 2016

        Oh aye Pink, I’m sure you don’t.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Did you notice how in that article you linked to, the author says white supremacists are better than people who say they’re colour blind? C’mon, seriously? Seriously? A person who says other races are inferior to theirs is better than a person who says we shouldn’t use ethnicity as a measure for anything?

        Like

      • violetwisp
        July 2, 2016

        I just skimmed it. Like I say, it’s about considering why people ask for others to modify their language and perceptions. I’m not going to agree with everyone on everything, obviously. When do we? But attacking every request for change, grouping them together and vilifying the notion that we should be considerate is an odd trend I’m not enjoying.

        Liked by 3 people

      • And yet again, I agree. That’s not what I’m criticizing in this post. My point is there are tons of real issues to choose from. Black men receive appalling treatment from the police. There are pastors calling for LGBT people to be executed. Women’s rights are under attack in the US. And someone has the nerve to say the problem is that people say they’re colour blind? It’s intellectually dishonest.

        Like

      • violetwisp
        July 2, 2016

        See, things to ponder.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Bookmark Chronicles
    July 2, 2016

    Once again, I never said that if you make this statement then you’re racist. I simply said that it could be seen as exclusive when the intention was to be inclusive

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, you didn’t say *could*. You said that “Saying that you don’t see color is actually a microaggression.”- that’s fine as long as you qualify the statement and explain that that’s how you feel; and that other people may feel differently.
      Let me put it to you a different way to see if we can find common ground. When I had my first boyfriend at 21, a number of people turned to me and said, “Well, why didn’t you tell me you were gay before?” My answer was always that my sexuality belonged to me. I don’t owe explanations to anyone about it. I feel the same is true about ethnicity, gender or background. I personally see a danger in someone deciding to *identify* my sexuality, gender or ethnicity based on their own preconceptions. I’d rather they withhold any judgement than jump to whatever conclusions. That’s not unreasonable, IMHO.

      Like

      • Bookmark Chronicles
        July 2, 2016

        If you had said that the first time I could have clarified and edited the post if you felt that the wording of it was misleading. I was not trying to say that everyone will feel this way which I tried to say repeatedly. Now I understand what you meant and hopefully you understand what I was trying to say but this whole thing could have been easily fixed in a simple coversation

        Liked by 2 people

      • Nothing needs fixing. I just want people to see the dangers of inviting judgements based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc. The Rwandan massacre was within my lifetime. So was Kosovo. And just last week a majority of people in Britain voted to separate from Europe. Mostly based on fears about outsiders “taking over”. I don’t want to hand anyone weapons they can use against me 😉 Or against anyone else.

        Like

      • Bookmark Chronicles
        July 3, 2016

        And I was simply trying to provide perspective on intent vs impact

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Sirius Bizinus
    July 2, 2016

    What exactly is the definition of microaggression that’s getting used here? There’s so much jargon I’m not up on.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. john zande
    July 3, 2016

    Arghhhhhhhh!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ruth
    July 3, 2016

    I think micro – aggressions all come down to the intent of the individual using the language. A lot of people use such language intentionally as some form of passive aggressive slight and when called out on it feign innocence. BUT there are soooooo many times when people are, as you say, just looking for a reason to he offended. It almost (almost ) makes those of us who wouldn’t dream of offending people intentionally afraid to say anything at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Intent has to be factored into the equation. Accidental homicide, crimes of passion, premeditated murder- all different things with intent being the measure used to decide their gravity.

      Like

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This entry was posted on July 2, 2016 by in activism and tagged , , , , , , .
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