This time I find myself defending Barack Obama. I'm morally certain he wasn't referring to Governor Palin as a pig, for two reasons: 1. "Putting lipstick on a pig" is a common phrase to describe spinning a bad thing to look like a good thing- he didn't invent it. 2. Any male over the age of 14 knows that "pig" is the second most offense thing you can call a woman, second only to the "c" word. Had he intended to denigrate Gov. Palin, he wouldn't have chosen a word that would offend all women everywhere.
The same principal applies to the "community organizer" comment of Gov. Palin's. I'm morally certain she was reacting to the sneers about her stint as Mayor, expressing her opinion- in her colorful, Northern Exposure way- that being an elected mayor is a more important job than self-appointed community organizer. Right or wrong, that is not an unreasonable opinion. She had no idea that "community organizer" is code language for "black", just as Senator Biden had no idea that "articulate" was a racial slur. Any more than UU seminarians were aware that "brown bag lunch" was code language.
Can't we stop this "code language" crap? If you have to dial a speech through your Tom Mix decoder ring to decide if you should be offended, odds are no offense was intended. If neither the speaker nor the audience knows what the hell you're taking offense over, odds are that they weren't using code language. When most people speak, they want the people they're speaking to to understand what they're saying, and use words that mean what they say. As a general rule, when people are using "code" words, they use tone of voice or "air quotes" to communicate the meaning.
Raising the "code word" issue is counterproductive, even if true. I Gar-ron-tee, as Justin Wilson used to say, that 99.999% of the time when you attack someone for using code words, most people are thinking, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard that before. You can't argue the facts, so you call them a racist- and when you can't find evidence of racism, you make it up as you go along." That might be something you want to bring up at the brown bag lunch discussion series on diversity.