Following last week’s post on reverse racism, I want to talk about gingers.
We heard a few years back, to our utter astonishment, that gingers have souls. All through high school we were led to believe that this was incorrect.
I hear a lot that prejudice against red-haired people is not real prejudice. Ostensibly, this notion feeds off the old anti-reverse racism line that only “oppressed minorities” who face “systemic discrimination” can possibly be subject to any form of prejudiced derision.
Actually, I think this is an excuse. People in certain institutions, like high school or particular pub friendship groups, like having people to insult, and refuse to think of themselves badly for having done so.
Who didn’t occasionally look down on or make fun of someone for who / what they were in high school? It was epidemic. People used it as a defence mechanism to deflect attention away from themselves, since a bit of digging would have almost certainly have exposed an “abnormal” attribute ripe for mocking.
The justification for insulting fat people has always been victim-blaming. It’s their fault they’re fat, so what do they expect? Inconveniently, anything anyone doesn’t choose isn’t subject to that rule, so we hastily have to concoct some reason why it’s OK to make fun of them. At a stretch, you could say that the ginger minger should have died her hair, just like the hairy bitch should have shaved her legs.
The picture on the left is a mash-up of two results you get when you Google “racist eggs”. The bottom one was what I was looking for – the one above is new to me, but something I was hoping to find.
I was expecting someone to have reversed the racist eggs to put the white egg in the minority. The fact that someone arranged the eggs in this fashion, and the fact that the image appears at the top of the Google page, shows us that there are those who perceive that in a racist egg situation, the white egg can be the victim.
This perception matters. The perception frames the direction of race discussions all across multicultural countries, causing arguments about who can legitimately be considered victims of racism. “Reverse racism”, a term pitched as being somehow the opposite of racism, is the idea that dominant racial groups can and do face racism in society.
The trouble with opposites is that the person who invents the concept opens the door to an infinite chain of opposites. If you can have reverse racism, you can have reverse reverse racism. Then, you can have reverse reverse reverse racism, and so on and so forth. This chain exists because of the need to assign blame.
“I have to tell you,” said the judge, “I keep having a difficult time with your using slavery as an analogy to this situation.”
“My suggestion is that you move in a different direction for the next two minutes.”
This quote is from the Storyville documentary Unlocking the Cage, which documented the Nonhuman Rights Project’s attempts to have individual chimpanzees recognised as legal persons in order to liberate them from unethical captivity.
Justice Karen Peters’ “suggestion” struck me more as a nebulous threat. The message was: “Continue to make that comparison, and we’re going to have a problem.”
Being in a position of great power, her pointed remarks had a profound effect on the lawyer she was speaking to, who visibly squirmed and hastily retracted a point that was logically strong. It was a worrying example of someone using authority to silence opposition.
Anthropomorphism and Violence
“Just because an animal hunts, that doesn’t mean that’s all they do.”
Recently, we’ve had a handsome young fox visit our garden during the day. We’ve got guinea pigs, and we put them out on the grass in fine weather, so his presence gives my mum and I cause for concern.
Like a cat, he tends to stalk around the pen; it’s what they do compulsively, by instinct. When he starts getting too frisky, we chase him off to be safe, feeling bad as we do so.
If he is not being too frisky, we often let him roam. Indeed, we often don’t go outside when he’s there so as not to disturb him. Mum commented wryly that from the outside, that must seem completely counterintuitive.
Upon occasion, this vegan takes forays into the murky inner city of the land of the unrepentant omnivore. A fascinating travail it is, too. I found a guy who thought humans having incisors and canines “proves” we are “carnivores”.
Evidently he had never heard of pandas, nor molars. Nor had he presumably tried to tear into a whole animal using nothing but his puny, blunt front teeth. It would seem that the human mouth has actually evolved to suit a civilisation with a vast array of kitchenware.
I’d like to say this extraordinary opine struck me as unique, but I’ve heard it all before – including this other thought, expressed by someone within the same comment thread: vegans are annoying because they “bring veganism into everything.” In other words, it’s fine for people to be vegan, as long as they don’t throw it in other people’s faces. I wonder if that individual has the same view on homosexuality.
Breeding is an “essential function” – for whom?
“Women shouldn’t be punished for performing an essential function,” say the Women of Tumblr (not an official group, but they might as well be), referring to pregnancy.
It’s clear that becoming pregnant gets in the way, variously; discussions about the glass ceiling and maternity / paternity leave rage on.
Wherever society can reduce this burden, it should, in the interests of general social justice, but also in the interests of equality, since it is currently true that in order for human beings to be made, women have to be pregnant. Otherwise, “Where’s the foetus going to gestate? In a box?!”
That said, I have a problem with this “essential function” term of phrase. Essential for who? Not planet Earth, certainly, which trundles on regardless of our presence on it, and in many ways would be healthier without us. Of course, we mean essential for the continuance of humans.
Not currently existing humans, just hypothetical humans of the future. The reason we have children is so that those very children we’ve had can enjoy the privilege of existing; perhaps because if they never got to exit, they would regret it somehow – or we would, even though we’ll be dead and we won’t know either way.
Everyone, take cover! We’re facing an epidemic of “But I couldn’t help wondering if…” documentaries.
Through no fault of his own, Louis Theroux has a lot to answer for. Since his documentaries have become cornerstones of the British view into international social issues, an avalanche of similarly-aged, male journalist-presenters have started copying his style to the letter. Evidently, they think his way is the best and only means of extracting information from a willing interviewee and engaging a critical audience. In reality, there are as many different journalistic styles as there are people.
The Theroux Technique is to put on an “everyman” persona. Now, if there was a calculus by which we could fit people into the category of “everyman”, no doubt Theroux would fit in it better than Stephen Hawking… But not by that much. He is an intelligent, knowledgable, engaged, critical, experienced, educated professional. Not to say that he’s a pretender; his everyman face is nothing more forced than basic courtesy and affability, which allows him to talk to his interviewees without coming off strongly as an aloof intellectual. Even with his valiant efforts, it is all too clear he’s a cut above the average Joe in the brain department. Nevertheless, you can’t fault Theroux for being Theroux: he can’t be anyone else.
His copycats can, though. They can be themselves, and stop pantomiming Theroux by asking lofty yet culturally biased rhetorical questions in voiceover. What drives me mad is that I know they’re doing that in post-production, not on the fly. They already know the answer to the question – which would be fine as a narrative device, provided the question was about to be answered. But frequently, it isn’t. The very next filmed sequence turns up vague and inconclusive answers, because people are vague and inconclusive.
Yet, that doesn’t stop the presenter from attempting to simplify real people down to cardboard cutouts, the better to come up with A Conclusion within the hour. The whole feature is peppered with the comment: “But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was having more of an effect on them than they realised… I couldn’t help wondering if it would soon take a toll on them…” May I make a suggestion? Next time you “can’t help” wondering (aloud), try. Because those aren’t wonders – those are prophesies of doom; the heavily meaningful nods passed between conservative grandparents who Know How It’s Bound To Turn Out.