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Author Topic: The Culture of Victimhood
JoshCrow
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So a sociological article on "microaggressions" caused quite a stir, mostly when it was used as the basis for an article in The Atlantic.

I've read both the Atlantic article and the originating work, and I have to agree with the central thesis - that our culture is experiencing a shift towards one in which social control is sought through appeals to one's victim status.

quote:

“Honorable people are sensitive to insult, and so they would understand that microaggressions, even if unintentional, are severe offenses that demand a serious response,” they write. “But honor cultures value unilateral aggression and disparage appeals for help. Public complaints that advertise or even exaggerate one’s own victimization and need for sympathy would be anathema to a person of honor.”

But neither is it dignity culture:

“Members of a dignity culture, on the other hand, would see no shame in appealing to third parties, but they would not approve of such appeals for minor and merely verbal offenses. Instead they would likely counsel either confronting the offender directly to discuss the issue, or better yet, ignoring the remarks altogether.”
The culture on display on many college and university campuses, by way of contrast, is “characterized by concern with status and sensitivity to slight combined with a heavy reliance on third parties. People are intolerant of insults, even if unintentional, and react by bringing them to the attention of authorities or to the public at large. Domination is the main form of deviance, and victimization a way of attracting sympathy, so rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization.”

It is, they say, “a victimhood culture.”

Victimhood cultures emerge in settings, like today’s college campuses, “that increasingly lack the intimacy and cultural homogeneity that once characterized towns and suburbs, but in which organized authority and public opinion remain as powerful sanctions,” they argue. “Under such conditions complaint to third parties has supplanted both toleration and negotiation. People increasingly demand help from others, and advertise their oppression as evidence that they deserve respect and assistance. Thus we might call this moral culture a culture of victimhood ... the moral status of the victim, at its nadir in honor cultures, has risen to new heights.”

Now, I've heard some grumbling that the term "victimhood" is a biased choice, especially when compared to "honor" and "dignity", which are positive associations. I happen to agree - to a point. I would perhaps suggest reframing it as a culture of "sympathy", whereby we are encouraged to appeal to the sympathy of others based on being oppressed... but this is basically just the flip side.

I have to say I think this kinda hits the nail on the head about today's culture-clash that is emerging between those on the "sympathy" side and those like myself on the "dignity" end. I find "identity politics" more and more tiresome, with an increased emphasis on hunting down minor transgressors (because a systemic problem is hard to fight). I think it creates a kind of "race to the bottom" for people to claim the moral high ground by embracing their identity as "oppressed".

The situation is so widespread that we now have while males, historically a favored population in the West, clamoring to be seen as victims of reverse-racism! This absurdity is only possible in a system where virtue has been conflated with victimhood.

I'm not suggesting we return to a culture of ignoring the disparate treatment people encounter based on their races, genders, or religions - but rather, I would hope that we would get to a place where people could be educated about diversity topics without being "policed", as it were, by the heavy-hand of "victims" of such crimes as asking "where are you from?" (apparently a microaggression).

Victims cannot be presumed to have "automatic" moral high ground in their own victimization, and I think honest conversations have to stay away from moralizing in favor of looking for solutions that do not make a virtue out of victimhood.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I would hope that we would get to a place where people could be educated about diversity topics without being "policed", as it were, by the heavy-hand of "victims"...
What does that look like, if you do not presume that some people need education on diversity topics?
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JoshCrow
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I'm not sure you caught my meaning - I presume that they still do need such education about prejudice, biases and disparity. I just think it needs to happen in a different form. I think we need to encourage people to identify as individuals rather than races, genders and beliefs - and fortify them internally for a world that will impose identities on them that are unwelcome.

If you ask me how that can be done, I will openly admit to having few tangible ideas as of yet. But it's not happening now - people are retreating into camps and looking to change the world in ways that are increasingly close to censorship and in conflict with freedom of speech. I feel like there is less effort to teach people resiliency and fortitude and "dignity" than there is effort to insist that other people treat you with unreserved, unquestioning sympathy.

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Pete at Home
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"sympathy" would be inaccurate because the regime is one of selective sympathy, for the accuser only.
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
"sympathy" would be inaccurate because the regime is one of selective sympathy, for the accuser only.

Actually, that's the reason I would have rejected "empathy" (which someone proposed in comments on Haidt's piece). I feel as though "sympathy" confers at least some awareness that there are, in fact, disparities that create unjust situations that merit a targeted accusations against an individual. A "culture of sympathy" is one in which sympathy is a sought-after moral commodity, rather than a thing that results from a significant grievance. It is a question of degree, really.

Ahmed "clock-kid" is a recent example of this culture's rising presence. In a dignity culture, this kid wouldn't have made the front page and the misunderstanding would have been treated as such rather than being a surrogate for a larger issue.

[ September 26, 2015, 08:44 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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Greg Davidson
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I have a theory about the victimhood culture. I think that it has evolved in response to the promulgation of relativism in the modern world (and maybe even in response to the question "Where is G-d if there was the Holocaust?"). If there are no absolute rights or wrongs, no appeal to a definitive, divine authority, then what remains as a basis for criticism?

First, there is hypocrisy as a sin. This premise would assert that while we don't share a common, absolute moral standard, if you fail to live up to whatever moral standard that you espouse, then your actions are wrong.

But the most emotionally powerful arguments come from presenting your position in contrast to great and undeniable evil that you have faced. The most prominent account of this is the Holocaust. Once the reality of the Holocaust permeated mainstream American society, anti-semitic positions became essentially untenable. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement used a dignified protest of victimhood to compell profound social change, andthe women's right movement followed the same path.

Unfortunately, the use of victimhood in this context is still just a concept in a relativist philosophy - assertions of victimhood are neither intrinscially moral or immoral, they are just a tool. And as the tool achieved some success, more and more groups started using it. I believe that part of the motivation for the last 35 years of backlash against liberalism has come from bogus liberal assertions of moral superiority due to questionable victimhood claims.

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
I believe that part of the motivation for the last 35 years of backlash against liberalism has come from bogus liberal assertions of moral superiority due to questionable victimhood claims.

To add to that, I think the whole concept of daring to question someone's victimhood is essentially forbidden (except for the usual white cisgender straight male, who is definitional as a non-victim). Challenging someone's victim-status is almost like the modern equivalent of slapping them with your glove and challenging them to a duel.
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Rafi
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What? Victim hood is about power. Create as many victims as possible, tell them their failure is not their fault but the fault of others. The white man, the rich, patriarchal society, police corruption, ageism or any other ism. Once you convince people they're victims, you offer them justice through the the power of government. Vote for me, I'll get you vengeance!

Microggressions, as farcical as they are, represent the latest attempt to expand the culture of victimhood and convince even more of the need for and dependence on big brother.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
I have a theory about the victimhood culture. I think that it has evolved in response to the promulgation of relativism in the modern world (and maybe even in response to the question "Where is G-d if there was the Holocaust?"). If there are no absolute rights or wrongs, no appeal to a definitive, divine authority, then what remains as a basis for criticism?

Three cheers for this well-formulated and accurate statement! And yet I would go further and suggest that not only is this relativism a symptom which derived 'organically' from a terrible event, but has rather been a trend that would have emerged with or without the Holocaust and that certain parties in history have deliberately pushed.

For anyone who hasn't read it yet, I highly recommend Nietzsche's On the Geneology of Morality, which goes deeply into this subject. It discusses not only the mentality of the revaluation of values (a psychological look at egoistic relativism) but also the type of person which both strives for this type of mental outlook and emerges from having adopted it. He also describes an end-picture of humanity should this trend continue in the direction he saw it going, which result he calls the "last man", i.e. a sickly person destitute of all fortitude and greatness, and striving only for material comforts and ease. As with Greg (who perhaps read some of this material already) he suggests that 'God's death' has ushered in the possibility of this new mode of thinking as the norm. If there is no "truth" and no structure in one's world-view, then any mental concept is 'as good' as any other. It also creates a nearly unassailable situation, because people who believe there is no standard for truth basically cannot be communicated with.

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Greg Davidson
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Fenring, I agree even though I do not see a path to a commonly held set of values. And in particular (as you may have noticed from many of my previous posts), I am very concerned about the growing trends that get us farther and farther from any standard of truth. Even in something as morally simple as expressing opinions on a website, the path to an agreement on truth is torturous. Imagine if actual decisions or power in the real world were at stake. This is a serious challenge worthy of significant contemplation.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
Fenring, I agree even though I do not see a path to a commonly held set of values. And in particular (as you may have noticed from many of my previous posts), I am very concerned about the growing trends that get us farther and farther from any standard of truth. Even in something as morally simple as expressing opinions on a website, the path to an agreement on truth is torturous. Imagine if actual decisions or power in the real world were at stake. This is a serious challenge worthy of significant contemplation.

For the last several years I've been prevaricating between a Nietzschean outlook which says that each person (as the artist of his own soul) must make up his own values for himself, and between the concern that there may be one 'true' set of values that is somehow ontologically "correct" and that we are too much the fools to notice it. I think some positivist-types think that this knowledge will inevitably come in time from completing our knowledge of the sciences and so forth, but I suspect that if there is some true answer that increasing our quantity of data may not be the key to determining it. I have some sympathy for the Straussians who believe that some past thinkers were closer to this than we are and that by studying them we will stand more of a chance of grasping some of this.

I guess one decent epistemological thing to come from Judeo-Christianity is the notion that agreeing on such a unifying truth is so far-fetched that it would take God coming down from the sky to get us all to believe it. And even then there would be dissent!

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AI Wessex
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Wow, I'm late to a thread that's only a little more than 12 hours old!
quote:
I'm not sure you caught my meaning - I presume that they still do need such education about prejudice, biases and disparity. I just think it needs to happen in a different form. I think we need to encourage people to identify as individuals rather than races, genders and beliefs - and fortify them internally for a world that will impose identities on them that are unwelcome.

I agree with that, but it doesn't go far enough. The education you describe will help people understand how others are different and may limit some of the harms done, but also needs to generate an understanding for why they should be treated as equals. It's necessary and important that we defend and protect those who are abused based on a group identity or association. Reaching out to protect others in a "victimhood culture" (a term I don't like) is an attempt to limit the institutionalized mistreatment some groups are on the receiving end of. The attacks on and defense of Ahmed are a microcosm of both sides of the problem.

Diversity education aims at the effect, not the cause. That is failing now and (I think) always will fail unless such training is an application of a well-defined body of ethics that we all share. Unfortunately, nowhere in our k-12 education system are students exposed to a rigorous or concerted attempt to teach them how to behave in society. Sadly, several GOP candidates have openly said they would do away with school programs that teach about diversity, which would be a giant step backward reflecting the white-male victimhood sensibility.

I haven't read the Nietzsche book that Fenring recommends, but I'll try to get a hold of it. I would offer "Ethics" or other works by Spinoza as earlier explorations of the nature of self in relation to God and the world. Stated in grossly oversimplified words, he views God as something we learn by studying ourselves and nature, not the other way around.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
I haven't read the Nietzsche book that Fenring recommends, but I'll try to get a hold of it. I would offer "Ethics" or other works by Spinoza as earlier explorations of the nature of self in relation to God and the world. Stated in grossly oversimplified words, he views God as something we learn by studying ourselves and nature, not the other way around. [/QB]

If do you get the book I suggest the Kaufmann translation. As for Spinoza it's already on my long reading list [Smile]
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
I'm not suggesting we return to a culture of ignoring the disparate treatment people encounter based on their races, genders, or religions - but rather, I would hope that we would get to a place where people could be educated about diversity topics without being "policed", as it were, by the heavy-hand of "victims" of such crimes as asking "where are you from?" (apparently a microaggression).

Not asking "Where are you from?", but the process of asking it over and over again"No, where are you really, originally from?" to someone that doesn't meet your biases about what a person from that place looks like.
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AI Wessex
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I heard an interview on the radio where a second generation US citizen of Middle Eastern descent had that very experience. Someone asked where he was from. He said the name of some midwestern city (I forget which), but was asked again, where are you from? He answered the same and the person asked yet again, No, really, where are you from? He said he laughed at the time, but then started thinking that where his grandparents had lived meant something to the asker, and it seemed less funny.
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kmbboots
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Funny. I read this thread and it all translates to "how can I not care about inequality without feeling guilty."
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Pyrtolin
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That's part of it- the other part is the fundamental invalidation of the initial answer that comes from pressing a person until they respond the way the asker wants them to. It enforces a second class status on anyone that challenges the majority basis.

As with the invention of "politically correct" as a smear to attack the notion that it's better to treat people with decency and respect, the vast majority of complaints about victimhood as above , are basically the majority defending it's freedom to be lazy and disrespectful when dealing with people that challenge their preconceptions; to force those of lower status to do the work to justify their answers and defend themselves from bias instead of making the basic effort to put aside their own biases and consider their possible effects of their assumptions and behavior on others.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
I heard an interview on the radio where a second generation US citizen of Middle Eastern descent had that very experience. Someone asked where he was from. He said the name of some midwestern city (I forget which), but was asked again, where are you from? He answered the same and the person asked yet again, No, really, where are you from? He said he laughed at the time, but then started thinking that where his grandparents had lived meant something to the asker, and it seemed less funny.

People are curious about ethnic origins. They want to know how a certain look corresponds with a country or region. I'm personally not very good at distinguishing the difference between people from Korea and China (even though the people there know automatically) but I'm interested to learn. What some people call "forcing their answers to conform to the majority" I call "the child's curiosity." If someone finds that offensive then that's their own insecurity talking (assuming the questioning isn't being posed in an aggressive manner as if to suggest the different-looking person is unwelcome).

Similar to the visual differences people are also interested in aural differences. It is 100% commonplace to inquire about an Englishman where in England he/she is from based on the speaking accent. Englishmen know they're going to be asked this because various Anglophiles or interested people would like to know which town or area sounds like what. They find it cool, and I've never met an Englishman to date who's offended by this interest because they know there's no malign purpose behind the question.

Granted, a speaking accent may not pass down a few generations like an ethnic look would, so you'd probably not encounter the aural scenario of "no, where are you really from?" But the desire to know something new about the world by inquiring about a person's look/sound is nonetheless similar.

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Funny. I read this thread and it all translates to "how can I not care about inequality without feeling guilty."

Are you referring to the responses or to the OP topic? Because the topic has nothing to do with what you're talking about; not even tangentially. If I were to retain your phrasing but try to more accurately describe the topic it would be "how can we care about equality without everyone becoming pathetic."
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AI Wessex
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quote:
People are curious about ethnic origins.
I've been asked that a lot, most recently at dinner last night by a long-time friend. But he asked it this way, "What part of Europe did your family come from?" Note the difference between asking where I came from and where *they* came from.
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NobleHunter
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Fenring, asking once is a legitimate getting-to-know-you question. Repeated questions is trying to get the askee to conform to the asker's prejudices.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
Fenring, asking once is a legitimate getting-to-know-you question. Repeated questions is trying to get the askee to conform to the asker's prejudices.

There is no doubt that many people are clods. But one shouldn't confuse the lack of elegant manners with the idea that a questioner is trying to somehow enforce a majority sensibility. If someone asks several times it probably means they didn't have the question they thought they were asking answered. And for someone on the receiving end, even though the miscommunication can be frustrating, any kind of a sense of charity should assume the questioner is only curious and that his lack of satisfaction probably means the question wasn't answered. If that means having to ask again then so be it. But you're saying that if a person's first answer isn't what you wanted to know then you are obliged to shut up and not try again. This position would seem to imply some kind of xenophobia on the part of those questioned in that you think they have some kind of problem discussing their family origins. In my experience most people don't have any problem with this, and many are even proud of it and happy to talk about it. If a questioner doesn't know how to phrase the question to one's satisfaction then maybe the pride of "he phrased it incorrectly" could be dropped in favor of "ok, ok I can guess pretty easily what he wants to know, I'll avoid making this difficult."
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NobleHunter
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Except when getting a different answer than the one they wanted, the question is phrased as "where are you really from?" That contains an implicit negation of the previously offered answer.

I'm not saying they should stop asking but if they want a different answer they should ask a different question. Like AI's 'where's your family from.'

It's not really a big thing but it's a form of rudeness that white people tend not to be subject to. Like straight guys and questions about preferred sexual positions.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
Fenring, asking once is a legitimate getting-to-know-you question. Repeated questions is trying to get the askee to conform to the asker's prejudices.

There is no doubt that many people are clods. But one shouldn't confuse the lack of elegant manners with the idea that a questioner is trying to somehow enforce a majority sensibility. If someone asks several times it probably means they didn't have the question they thought they were asking answered. And for someone on the receiving end, even though the miscommunication can be frustrating, any kind of a sense of charity should assume the questioner is only curious and that his lack of satisfaction probably means the question wasn't answered. If that means having to ask again then so be it. But you're saying that if a person's first answer isn't what you wanted to know then you are obliged to shut up and not try again. This position would seem to imply some kind of xenophobia on the part of those questioned in that you think they have some kind of problem discussing their family origins. In my experience most people don't have any problem with this, and many are even proud of it and happy to talk about it. If a questioner doesn't know how to phrase the question to one's satisfaction then maybe the pride of "he phrased it incorrectly" could be dropped in favor of "ok, ok I can guess pretty easily what he wants to know, I'll avoid making this difficult."
So the minority representative should own the extra work to make the communication go smoothly even if the majority representative is being thoughtless and lazy, right?
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
It's not really a big thing but it's a form of rudeness that white people tend not to be subject to. Like straight guys and questions about preferred sexual positions.

Are you sure white people aren't 'subjected' to it? The question is not whether white people receive the same questions (inquiries into their family's origins) but whether the question is based on looks. Of course someone of Asian descent looks different from a while person and so that right there might raise the curiosity, whereas white people (amongst each other) will often ask the question too but it's not necessarily triggered by looks. I've been involved in countless conversations or brief exchanges about "where's your family from" or even occasionally the mis-phrased "where are you from" with the actual question being with regard to European origins. I've met lots of white native-born Americans who have Polish roots, for example, and they call themselves "Polish", and so to them the answer to the question "where are you from" could just as easily be answered with "Poland" as with "Philly." It is to an extent a culture thing whether a person calls their 'home country the one in which they live, or even were born in, compared with the one their family hails from.

The issue of self-identity with regard to national/ethnic heritage is sticky enough that I think one should err on the side of forgiving social faux-pas in this area rather than using the term "aggression" to voice dislike at the question. By labelling a question as a "microaggression" a person is appealing to a third party (as JoshCrow's sources put it) to arbitrate the encounter, that authority in this case being, I suppose, liberal moral memes. It is the equivalent of saying "Hey man, they say you can't ask me that question, so lay off," which is just one step removed from asking asking them for assistance directly. OP is about just dealing with cultural communication issues from person to person rather than making appeals to outside authority to 'handle' anything you don't like.

[ September 28, 2015, 01:23 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
So the minority representative should own the extra work to make the communication go smoothly even if the majority representative is being thoughtless and lazy, right?

I would rather phrase it as "if you encounter someone who's worse at communicating than you are then you can help them out." If the person happens to be a boor then you can decline to talk with them purely on account that you don't care for boors, but that is another matter in contrast with labelling the conversation a type of aggression. If the person with whom you're speaking is really ignorant and assumes anyone who looks different wasn't born in America, your options are to try to educate them, or else to move on. But calling them aggressive when they're just ignorant and stupid imputes a malignant property to an otherwise innocent intention.
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NobleHunter
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'Where's your family' from is a different question than 'where are you really from'. I've never had people conflate the two questions when they want to know where my grandparents or great-grandparent emmigrated from. I've never had someone imply I can't be from the city I was born in. Non-white people report a significantly differSome nnt experience.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
So the minority representative should own the extra work to make the communication go smoothly even if the majority representative is being thoughtless and lazy, right?

I would rather phrase it as "if you encounter someone who's worse at communicating than you are then you can help them out." If the person happens to be a boor then you can decline to talk with them purely on account that you don't care for boors, but that is another matter in contrast with labelling the conversation a type of aggression. If the person with whom you're speaking is really ignorant and assumes anyone who looks different wasn't born in America, your options are to try to educate them, or else to move on. But calling them aggressive when they're just ignorant and stupid imputes a malignant property to an otherwise innocent intention.
Well, you're leaving out the "micro" part which makes your point sound like the only reasonable position. Keep in mind it's a "micro" offense. It only matters when/because it's pervasive.

When people elevate individual microaggressions to grievances and seek some kind of redress, that's clearly a dysfunctional approach. But I don't have a problem with people pointing them out or even being angry about them. There's no other way to change the dynamic.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
When people elevate individual microaggressions to grievances and seek some kind of redress, that's clearly a dysfunctional approach. But I don't have a problem with people pointing them out or even being angry about them. There's no other way to change the dynamic.

You are quite right that it would be nice to have everyone get along better and to understand each other better in the process. The sociological article, though, is about appeals to third parties and identification of sources of offence as being "oppression." I don't think anyone in this thread is suggesting that communicating one's feelings to others is a bad thing. "What you just did bothered me, I thought you should know," as opposed to "we would like this type of comment to count as 'oppressive' and have such speech banned."
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
"sympathy" would be inaccurate because the regime is one of selective sympathy, for the accuser only.

Actually, that's the reason I would have rejected "empathy" (which someone proposed in comments on Haidt's piece). I feel as though "sympathy" confers at least some awareness that there are, in fact, disparities that create unjust situations that merit a targeted accusations against an individual. A "culture of sympathy" is one in which sympathy is a sought-after moral commodity, rather than a thing that results from a significant grievance. It is a question of degree, really.

Ahmed "clock-kid" is a recent example of this culture's rising presence. In a dignity culture, this kid wouldn't have made the front page and the misunderstanding would have been treated as such rather than being a surrogate for a larger issue.

I like your term "unquestioning sympathy."

It fits the twerps that demand irrev ersible action be taken after an accusation and prior to any investigation.

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NobleHunter
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Who's asking for microaggressive speech to be banned?
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scifibum
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NH - I believe that some examples of that could be dredged up, but even so, I think it's not really typical for people to seriously suggest legal or contractual restrictions on microaggressive speech as a general solution.

IOW, I don't think it's a very serious threat, even though I think some of the subcultures that utilize these concepts in their own politics may sometimes spiral off into such extreme viewpoints on the fringes. I think this tends to generate sufficient pushback.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
'Where's your family' from is a different question than 'where are you really from'. I've never had people conflate the two questions when they want to know where my grandparents or great-grandparent emmigrated from.

I have seen some folks get quite upset. To borrow aa phrase from Scott Card, that's my ""flaming ******* test" for people with an accent. "Where are your ancestors from? If they are not ashamed or defen sive about discussing geneaology then it miight be worth the effort to get to know them. If not, then they've been too choked up with American politicaL correctness to even know who they are, so I dont have a chance.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
NH - I believe that some examples of that could be dredged up, but even so, I think it's not really typical for people to seriously suggest legal or contractual restrictions on microaggressive speech as a general solution.

IOW, I don't think it's a very serious threat, even though I think some of the subcultures that utilize these concepts in their own politics may sometimes spiral off into such extreme viewpoints on the fringes. I think this tends to generate sufficient pushback.

While there may exist (and in future perhaps more so) some instance of authority used to squash speech in this sense, I am personally more concerned with the psychological fact of people wanting others to be barred from certain kinds of speech, or for some nebulous social authority to denounce those kinds of speech. Nietzsche, at any rate, was discussing a certain psychological disposition among people and had no interest that I can detect in how that would translate into the laws of the land. For my part that aspect is also my greater interest on the topic.
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Pete at Home
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quote:

Ahmed "clock-kid" is a recent example of this culture's rising presence. In a dignity culture, this kid wouldn't have made the front page and the misunderstanding

I am not convinces that was a "misunderstanding" rather than a false flag opperation. If the kid was white, aith an anglo name, he would be in trouble for less.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
When people elevate individual microaggressions to grievances and seek some kind of redress, that's clearly a dysfunctional approach. But I don't have a problem with people pointing them out or even being angry about them. There's no other way to change the dynamic.

You are quite right that it would be nice to have everyone get along better and to understand each other better in the process. The sociological article, though, is about appeals to third parties and identification of sources of offence as being "oppression." I don't think anyone in this thread is suggesting that communicating one's feelings to others is a bad thing. "What you just did bothered me, I thought you should know," as opposed to "we would like this type of comment to count as 'oppressive' and have such speech banned."
Yes. We should absolutely dictate how people talk to us about the offensive way we talk to them.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Yes. We should absolutely dictate how people talk to us about the offensive way we talk to them.

I detect some amount of irony that in describing a phenomenon as problematic you suggest that this description is an attempt at "dictating" how people talk to each other, when in fact the crux of the description is in criticizing the fact that people want to dictate how others should speak!

You do, of course, bring up the infinite regress of social chastisement, when can be summed up as "don't tell me what to do!" repeated indefinitely. How can a person be tolerant and yet tolerate intolerance? Does that mean intolerance is warranted towards intolerance, which in turn warrants intolerance? There is a standard answer to this quandary which is thought to be simple, and yet in set theory terms it seems to me more convoluted than that.

In short, one should be wary of being a spokesperson for tolerance and simultaneously dictating which types of discourse are unacceptable. This isn't necessarily an unnavigable pursuit, but in practice I think we would find that there are dangers on either side of reasonable.

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JoshCrow
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I think the crux of the situation is that some people think the arbiter of what is "reasonable" should be the offended party, whereas others like myself prefer to consider the intent of the "offender" to be of more value in deciding whether a reproach is warranted.

I practice what I preach - it's downright impossible to offend me personally without intending to do so (although I can find certain opinions to be odious, I am referring here to "taking a thing personally")

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
I practice what I preach - it's downright impossible to offend me personally without intending to do so (although I can find certain opinions to be odious, I am referring here to "taking a thing personally")

Here's what I have to say to you:

http://imgur.com/gallery/SOuvkJn

(any Enemy Mine fans out there?)

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TomDavidson
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quote:
it's downright impossible to offend me personally without intending to do so
It is indeed nice to be a middle-class white man in America. [Smile]
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DJQuag
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I don't know. If I weren't like Josh Crow and allowed other people to offend me, I might get offended at the people who assume I'm a sexist, racist, rapist, or all three. Because I'm white and male.
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