The Lava Trolley: We Are All Racists

The Lava Trolley

Or is it the lavatory???

...Either case, this little nook on blogasphere is the natural dumping ground for the sort of crap that erupts
when you find a wee Chink in the Britworks...

But hey, I promise you this is steamingly hot shit...which is probably why it's all looking a bit brown!


22 March 2007

We Are All Racists


Paki, Nigger, Chink, Jap - All the colours of the ethnic rainbow...No, wait, there's a shade missing here. I do believe we're one offensive term short of the proverbial crusade.

Pick out one time when describing someone as a Brit instead of British has made front-page headlines. It's not beyond the pale to use terms like Scots, Danes or Ozzies either. The latter group refers to the English as Poms, but does anyone give a shit?


There are names us Chinkies have called white people for centuries, but not a single Ang Mo muscle has moved to point a gun in our direction on account of this. Not even a catchy campaign slogan, let alone a brick through the window.

There's definitely a case of double-standards going on here.

Shakespeare had it right in Juliet's balcony scene...It's only words, and languages evolve all the time, so why empower these words with your outrage?

A debate on semantics is not only fruitless, it is petty.

Far better to waste your time on something more worthwhile, like growing GM roses that will smell sweeter than the bard's hyperbole...

...Or arguing about whether it is ok to dislike someone because of their cultural background (as opposed to shunning them because of BO).

I suppose the problem with the process of pigeon-holing is that it doesn't make room for individualism. Human nature is complex, and not all products of a certain society will turn out the same. But there are different levels of discrimination, the extreme being abuse. The difficulty is in distinguishing where preference crosses over into prejudice.

Hmmm...I'll take the roses anytime. They're far less complicating...

UPDATED: 03 July 2007 @ 21:30

I know my response isn't the quickest, but this time, I have a pretty good excuse...I don't follow Big Brother.

If this didn't creep down the grapevine, I probably wouldn't even have known what had happened...Rather than start a new entry about something I'd already blogged about, I thought it easier to just plonk my update at the end of this post.

"In an apparent backlash against political correctness,
nearly 1,000 viewers have criticised Channel 4 for
evicting a contestant who used a racially offensive word
on its flagship reality show Big Brother.

The channel kicked out contestant Emily Parr yesterday
for calling another housemate a 'nigger', in what appears
to have been misguided attempt to use street language."

Crude, common and just plain lazy, yes....Offensive, no...race-related or otherwise.

We should really start imposing a fine on people who wave the racist banner around when it isn't appropriate, especially now that most of us have quit smoking...Think how much money we could make!

I'm crawling over old territory here...I seem to keep having this conversation over and over again with friends who disagree with me.

One of the do-gooder's main gripe is that the entire conversation in BB was broadcast (the fact that it was after the watershed makes little difference), as if that should really be an issue in the first place. If someone was truly being abusive, what does it matter how many people view it? Surely this is an issue that concerns everybody?

The argument that it is somehow less excusable because the people Emily was getting chummy with weren't strictly her mates doesn't quite gel with me either. Quite frankly, the very notion that what's said in private among friends carries less significance than something bandied about for all and sunder just smacks of hypocrisy. But then again, perhaps that's just me. Besides, I care less about the reactions of people I hardly know than those who really do matter, such as my friends and family.

I rank 'nigger' on the same level as text-speak and street-lingo. Some words just roll off the tongue more easily than others (eg. 'bog' vs 'toilet'). Still, whichever way you look at it, street-talk could never be described as sophisticated or elegant. 'Nigger' is probably not the wisest choice of words to use if you're trying to make a good impression, such as during a job interview (or say, a contest that's being shown live nationwide).

Emily Parr may need some vocabulary enrichment lessons, but to brand her a racist is the outside of extreme.

I wonder if C4's reaction would have been the same if she had called somebody 'stupid' instead. I'm pretty sure that, in the great scheme of things, worse material has been publicised on TV. Once again, the bias seems to lie on the side of UK ethnic minorities. Awhile back, a documentary exploring racism in the British-Chinese community was attacked because its makers had the audacity to name it The Missing Chink...Nevermind that the title was meant to be ironic. And yet, nary a squeak was elicited after C4's Ghosts was aired, despite obvious derogatory meaning behind the term.

And god forbid if anything were to contain the N-word (or equivalent)!

Racial slurs tend to 'de-weaponize' as language continues to evolve. By constantly acknowledging their negative connotations, we allow words to become stuck with them. The best way to deal with this sort of thing is to ignore the so-called transgression, like you would a spoilt child's tantrums.

Black slavery belongs to the distant past, so let's leave it there, along with all associated forms and practices. It's now history...Deal with it already.

Related Articles:
Viewers Angered by Big Brother Eviction

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  • At 2/4/07 20:39, Blogger Alex said…

    Good points, well made. I find that often slang terms creep into a person's vocabulary at a young age and stick. Even if the slang has racist connotations it can exist in a person's mind before any prejudice. The problem being that laziness means the words can continue to be used later in life and while they may or may not be used in an intentionally racist manner they still have the power to destroy that you allude to.

    Brit(ish) folk should really be careful who they throw names at anyway. This island has been collonised and invaded by so many different peoples in the last 3000 years that we're standing in a very ricketty greenhouse as far as name calling is concerned. And look me a standard, white, British male can be surprised by his recent ancestors. Only a couple of years ago I found out I have a fair bit of Iberian blood in me.

    All that said I agree too that it is people that give words power and immotive as some words can be they are not as powerful as a kind action or a caring hand.

  • At 9/4/07 17:16, Blogger Charme said…

    Oh aye, the art of thinking before opening one's gob appears to be lost on some people (Brits or otherwise). But perhaps it's just a deliberate attempt on their part to sow dissension.

    However, my point is that it seems a tad extreme to brand people as racists for the harmless usage of a few piddling words. Are we no longer allowed to be descriptive just because it offends some individuals? Whatever happened to plain speaking?

    I've never placed much stock in political-correctness. It's not solved ANY problems whatsoever...All it's done is encourage over-sensitivity, and shifted the focus away from more important issues.

    PS - I think you'll find very few people can consider themselves truly pedigree. It all depends on how far back you want to go. My husband is even convinced he's part-neanderthal, and I'm inclined to agree...Mainly because he possesses an occipital knob, and not some other less-than-savoury characteristic!

  • At 25/6/07 16:50, Blogger Archie said…

    Good point

    when in China
    I was called White Devil, which is a term from the 1800's

    so what?
    .... and the girls all laughed at my big feet and giggled at the possibilities elsewhere.

    In Arabia we were called either Brits (the most popular term, used every day) or foreign crazy by my arab workmates (rough translation)

    and my Aussie mates called me a pommie bastard, then bought me a beer.

    Its when someone calls you something to be unpleasant that's different, someone calling a chap can be nice or bloody nasty depending on their intonation; which is what the 'well bred' Brit twits are so good at.

    Personally - its the latter sort of people I find most disagreeable....


  • At 4/7/07 21:33, Blogger Charme said…

    A shame more people don't feel the same...Someone on AsianAve recently objected to my usage of 'Oriental' because the term is one that's been deemed racially demeaning.

    As a child, I went to school in Singapore - a community considered one of the most multi-cultural in the world (by that, I mean that the different ethnic groups actually integrate)...And yet, in all my years there, not once did an Asian object to the term 'Oriental'.

    Go figure...

    Anyhow, recent events have inspired me to add another example to this post which illustrates my point even further.


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