Monday, April 22, 2013

What can I takeaway from this?

The other day someone was complaining that she had received a private message advising her to change some wording in a blog-post, because it is a racially-charged epithet. She came onto a message board to whinge about this, because she couldn't see the potential offensiveness and was convinced it is an ok word to use. That word is 'chinky' and she was using it in the context of going to get take-away.

This sort of thing has always confused me, in that I couldn't see why it is so bloody important to someone to cry 'political correctness gorn mad' and be reluctant about changing the language they use, in the face of potentially upsetting people for no reason. I mean, is it really so hard to say "we went to get Chinese food" or "we got takeaway" instead? Does it harm you or cost you in any real way to put someone else's feelings ahead of the way you habitually speak?

Reading (or rather listening to) Mistakes Were Made (But not by Me) recently has given me a bit more insight into this resistance, which has always seemed so ridiculous and inexplicable to me. I guess there is a cost involved: a cost of admitting you might be wrong or harming someone - and that doesn't fit with the way you view yourself. Assuming this blogger is not a proud out-and-out racist (and would never think of herself as such, but rather has been a fish in a sea of unquestioned white privilege) then being called on using a word that she has perhaps never connected up the dots to being a racist one, sends her into uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. There are two obvious routes out of this horrid feeling - deny it's a racist term and/or protest that the other person is over-sensitive - or admit fault & re-think the way she uses language.

The knee-jerk reaction is to get angry and defensive and go with the former, rather than do the latter. Thus: everyone in her town uses that word, even the owners of the take-away use it about their own shop, she's not a racist, she's been using that takeaway for thirty years and considers the owners friends. So how could it possibly be racist? It cannot be a racist word, because that would mean she's been (inadvertently) racist. And she's not a racist.

I'm inclined to doubt the level of 'friendship' there is between her and the owners - maybe she knows them to chat to in the shop or on the street, but does she really know them and socialise with them outside of buying takeaway? Maybe she does...

Even if the owners themselves are not upset by the word and use it themselves, it doesn't mean it's no longer racist. I mean think about it, would it be good for business or peaceful co-existence to call your customers on their (mostly unthinking, non-maliciously intended*) racism when the likelihood is it would simply arouse hostility? Could it be a case of picking your battles? Even if not, and the owners are genuinely unconcerned by the term and everybody in the town does think it's acceptable, outside of that social bubble, it can be used in a derogatory way - and, moreover, it can be avoided easily.

So change the wording: you're on a world stage when you're on the interwebz. Being wrong stings, but it seems to me fighting the rear-guard action of defensiveness and self-justification is harder work in the longer run.

* To be generous

Thursday, April 18, 2013


  • Ooh you've picked up the lead, very excited, very happy!
  • Oh do I have to wear the lead? Very sad.
  • Ooh, I'm off the lead! Yay, happy runnings.
  • It's another dog, it's another dog, yay yay!
  • Other dog is more boisterous than me? How can that even happen? Did you see him knock me over? That dog's no fun, I'm not playing anymore.
  • I like little dogs and old dogs and dogs that are still on leads. It's especially good when they get tangled up with their owners.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fading out redux

I'm all weight-lifted-off-shouldersy today.

You see, the friend of this blog-post has been going through a bad time lately, living it out on Facebook. I felt I should show support, so I have messaged her and texted her to demonstrate said support. But of course she invited me over and I felt all argh and meh, and that I couldn't very well say no in her hour of need.

The kind of support I want to offer is purely practical, such as helping her move or giving her packing boxes - or emotional to a limited degree, such as sending best wishes and kind thoughts. Damn these people who won't stay in their boxes and respect my unspoken limits! Haha.

Anyways, I ended up going over (and again, it was a gathering of people I didn't know, apart from her. She had told me it was likely to be just the two of us).

During the course of the evening, however, I twigged on that her original invitation text had been mistakenly sent to me!

Such bless├ęd relief. I don't need to feel guilty or obligated. It stung a little at the time, but this morning I just feel so bloody happy! Skippety-hoppity hurrah.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flamin' poo

I can't help but think the EDF 'flame' looks more like a big poo than anything else.

Politeness costs nothing (except my comfort)

I had a minor epiphany today. Very minor.

Everyday the canteen boss gives me a cup of coffee for free, which is very kind. It used to be regular-sized, but of late he has taken to giving me the large size. And in the time I have to drink it, I really struggle to consume the whole thing, and doing so makes my stomach feel distended and uncomfortable.

Today, as I say, it suddenly occurred to me I don't have to finish it.

How liberating.

The guy is doing a nice thing for me, and I thank him as is right & proper - but I don't have to drink the whole thing. I didn't ask for the bigger size and it's really not going to worry him unduly if I don't drink it all, is it? By forcing myself to drink it all, it makes him think I want or need the bigger size, so he'll keep giving it, when I was perfectly happy with the smaller cup. D'oh.

It seemed ungrateful somehow not to drink it all, and sometimes I would sneak off to drain it into the sink before he saw the unfinished cup! But I think I was being a bit daft. It is daft.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Justice Thirwall

I like the acknowledgement of the role Philpott's abuse of women had.