Wednesday, August 08, 2007

i do what i want: part uno

yesterday a friend sent me this article about how a new york city council member is trying to ban the word "bitch"... i say "wha?" honestly, i don't even feel like ranting about it because everyone i shared it with did it for me. however, i thought i was doing a dishonesty to my new status as blogger to not share this with you. read this. talk amongst yourselves.

my comments:
  • first of all, how can you ban a word?? is that first amendment only around for show and for when the government wants to protect the minute men and all those folks protesting outside of abortion clinics?
  • old (usually white) people don't understand rap and this appears to be yet another racist attempt to squelch something the ruling class doesn't know, understand or appreciate. funny when juxtaposed with this article in am ny today. do first amendment rights end when it bothers some folks "sensibilities."
  • however, it is a federal offense to scream "fire" in a crowded theater. so language can't be used to incite a riot. but thats context... can a word be all bad? does it matter who says it?
  • what about ho, dyke, fag, kike*, etc etc... they arent bad enough to make legislation? are women's rights that much more pc than freedom from hate crimes in general?
  • if they ban "bitch," my sister may just have to learn to call me by my real first name.
  • you can NOT change culture by banning a word, an action or an experience. you can never really truly ban these things on their own. hello racism for example. you can make it illegal to discriminate against someone based upon the color of their skin, but no legislation can force you to stop being a hater. the only way to end [insert something bad like racism] is to change the system that profits and benefits from said bad thing. sexism and racism can't end by getting rid of words.. you have to change the system. ::fist in the air::
  • this is totally ridic

politically correct bitch

** bad words used merely to illustrate a point and not meant to cause offense.


The Pedant said...

1) I don't believe the City Council has any power to control the speech of everyday New Yorkers. The resolution in question is a "symbolic moratorium". It makes no real effort to change the speech of New Yorkers.

2) You can shout "fire" in a crowded theater. The quote you're looking for by Justice Holmes, "[t]he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic," comes from Schenck v. United States, a case almost a hundred years old. Schenck was on trial for telling people to avoid the draft, something that we would like to allow, if not encourage, today, so I don't think Holmes's reasoning still holds.

Furthermore, there has never been a judicial free speech test of shouting fire in a crowded theater. More modern cases have allowed Klan members to say "go blow people up with dynamite" moments before a violent riot. I would say that Schenck is dead, dead, dead.

3) As for class struggle and rap music: I would be a lot more sympathetic if there wasn't a "stop snitching" movement going on in a lot of rap music that allows hundreds of murders to go unsolved and unpunished.

Zie said...

you are very serious. though i appreciate your constitutional history lesson (its been a few years).. my point was about context. the meaning of a word changes drastically depending upon context. as my fourth grade teacher taught me.. words are only bad when negatively used against another person. we all had fun figuring out how to say "shit" in a non-offensive way. i resent that any public official is making any movement towards telling us what to . the word is def sexist, but this society is what creates such sexism. pass the ERA already. etc etc...

mel said...

I have to first say that I agree with Zie on the point of where the changes truly need to be made. A question I would like to pose is, what changes, if any, are appropriate to make at this time? Seeing that the current institution (Capitalism/American Democracy) was built on and around the elements such as racism, sexism, ageism, classism, and almost any other -ism you could conjure up, where do we, as a society, even begin? I am not quite sure of this answer as it is overwhelming to say the least. However, I can tell you where we should not begin, and that is with the oppression of individual rights. There is a saying in the activist community that one cannot destroy the master's house with the master's tools. Some may argue, those Machiavellian folks out there, may say that the end, does in fact justify the means (the destruction of personal freedom). To those people I would ask, how does one create a more free and politically/socially equal society by first passing laws that directly contradict the intended outcome? It is illogical to believe that restricting something as basic, yet important as speech will someday bring those oppressed by said speech, to absolute freedom. I do believe that a lot of the activity around the certain words in question is racially driven and thus even more ridiculous to even consider the validity and sincerity of the people pushing for new policy. We also need to remember that the power that these said words possess is supplied by our historically bias system, not by rap stars, artists, or people referring to their sister as b*tch. In closing, get real. Has everyone forgotten that the US is still very engaged in a war in Iraq and that thousands of people (Iraqis and US soldiers) have died for reasons untouched by logic/sound judgement ??? I wish that everyone would get a little more fired up about that instead of thinking of ways to slowly chip away at the first amendment.

DK said...

I'm so glad the City Council is busy fighting the good fight -- clearly eradicating things like sexism and racism, instead of wasting time on things they can't control -- like transportation issues, or where to put our garbage.

Can we spend another few weeks arguing about naming a street after a racist black panther? Pleaaaaaase?