Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You watch your phraseology!

A phrase I enjoy: "with all due respect"

Why I enjoy it: it is completely meaningless

Example: "With all due respect, I must disagree with your practice of smashing women's faces with hammers just for fun."

How much respect is due to a person who perpetrates such an act of brutality? Very, very little. Therefore, this is a phrase which here means "with very, very little respect."

There are other situations in which I feel very little respect is due. Not a whole hell of a lot of situations, but a few. For example, I feel no respect is due a person's "belief" that my rights are less than his because of my orientation. God is not a surrogate behind whom you can hide your bigotry. God may be many things to many people, but that interpretation is not one I will deign to respect.

(For those of you fortunate enough to participate in the listserv that engendered this post, you may notice that this topic is tangential to that one. I don't intend to be replying directly to a certain alumnus of a certain University. These are just the musings that came out of that other discussion.)

With all due respect, your racist bullshit is unacceptable. With all due respect, your flagrant disregard for the thoughts and feelings of others is disgusting. With all due respect, if your head were any further up your ass you'd be knocking on your own larynx.

The best part of "with all due respect" is that, as long as you're careful about the rest of the sentence, you can use it to say things to people's faces that could otherwise result in fisticuffs. I don't like fisticuffs, but I do like honesty.

Speaking of honesty, here's some: I am so fucking sick and tired of hearing from every single "conservative" who ever graduated from Brown University about how downtrodden they all were and how their voices were never heard. Perhaps if they tried saying things other than "you're not listening to me!", people would listen. Conservative voices are NOT underrepresented in this nation. Grow the fuck up.

Which brings me to my next point: "conservative" and "liberal" are becoming less and less useful. I'm a conservative: I don't want the government telling me whom I can and whom I can't marry. I'm a liberal: I do want the government telling CEOs that they can't just walk away with $700 billion of taxpayer money. I'm a moderate: I believe in acceding to opposing demands in order to achieve some kind of consensus. I'm a radical and a reactionary too (okay I can't think of a reactionary position I hold, but I'm sure there's something). I'm happy to be labeled radical, but I'm not happy to have my positions on any given issue assumed because of that label. I know this 'labels' discussion is old hat, but it's what I've got in my head right now.

I don't actually think there's much of that assumption going on around me. As I noted a few posts back, I'm in a happy place. I'm just in a bad mood from reading Carl fucking Dahlhaus. Not to mention being reminded of how geographically far away I am from some people I miss terribly and how ideologically far away I am from others I don't miss at all.

Sigh. Come on, History. Do your teleological thing and just fucking progress. I'm tired of this moment.


Anonymous said...

(Yes, I know I'm falling into the liberal/conservative linguistic trap, and I agree that it is a trap, but I think it's going to best express my point right now.)

I agree, conservative voices are not at all underrepresented in this country. At the same time, it is always a challenge to be the one in a group or community who sticks out.

I know very little of Brown's community and how downtrodden people can claim to be. I am going to tend to agree with how you are perceiving this situation. But I also know people I adore who happen to be bad about generally demonizing conservatives/Republicans with poorly thought out statements. (This is not you.) If you live in a liberal town, work in a liberal office, and have mostly liberal friends, and enough people around you fall in the trap of making "political discussion" by making one sentence claims to the evilness and idiocy of all Republicans, it's going to grate on you. Switch all the terms in that last statement and the grating stays the same. (Well, fluffiness and idiocy seems to be what I'm used to hearing in the opposite case.)

It's your job. You can't walk out, even if it feels as if people are attacking you, or your friends, or your family. It's your community, and again, how do you walk out? It's a privilege to be able to say demonizing statements -- Xs are idiots; Xs never think about anyone but themselves; all Xs thoughts have no basis in reality -- and not have to think about whether you're insulting someone's mother.

I've seen those statements enough from people who thought they were talking politically, but... it's not politics. And honestly, it makes me uncomfortable, even when I don't feel as if me or my own are targeted by the statements.

(I'm sorry if you feel this isn't addressing your post. I hope it is, and I'm certainly trying to respond in an appropriate manner. But I'll also admit that I'm tired from staying up half the night with a boy who felt that his co-workers were badmouthing his loved ones with unfair/inapplicable statements that he couldn't verbally respond to without putting his professional rapport at stake. I admit my mind is with that situation at the moment.)

Oh man, and yes, "with all due respect" too often means "with very little respect". Way too often.

Ms. Chakravarty said...

It's like "no offense, but. . ."

On other other hand, how exactly to phrase something honest and difficult to say? Less, glibly, I suppose.

bah. I miss you.