Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick on a pig

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.


Robin Edgar said...

I am somewhat ambivalent when it comes to Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment in light of the fact that it was uttered so soon after Sarah Palin referred to herself as a "pitbull" with lipstick. At best it was an unfortunate choice of words, but who is to say that it was not a thinly veiled snide reference to Sarah Palin's highly publicized "pitbull with lipstick" self-description? You might be being just a tad naive again Joel. Personally I can't get the image of a barracuda with lipstick out of my mind. ;-)

AFAIAC You are definitely being more than a tad naive, if not outright disingenuous. . . when you suggest that Senator Joe Biden "had no idea that 'articulate' was a racial slur." I would suggest that you enter into an ever so U*U free and *responsible* search for the truth and meaning of what Senator Joe Biden said about Barack Obama -

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

From my perspective, and I expect that of most other people who see Senator Biden's words as being rather problematic, the most offensive words in that statement are "the first". . . There is no question that the subtext of Joe Biden's assertion is that African Americans, indeed "mainstream African-American(s)" (as opposed to non-mainstream African-Americans). . . are not articulate, nor bright, nor clean, nor even "nice looking". Senator Joe Biden certainly suggested that a "mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" is an extremely rare phenomenon. Indeed, according to his poorly chosen words, Senator Barack Obama is "the first". . . N'est-ce pas Joel?

Chalicechick said...

From context, it's pretty clear that, if anything, Palin is the "lipstick" and not the "pig" as the "pig" referred to is very clearly Bush's policies.


Joel Monka said...

Robin, Senator Biden has a long history of having his mouth run faster than his thoughts. I seriously doubt he is a racist. and I imagine Senator Obama doesn't think so either.

Robin Edgar said...

If you had bothered to read the CNN article that I linked to to help you along with your free and responsible search for the truth and meaning of what Senator Joe Biden said you would have seen that Jesse Jackson played down what Joe said and Obama decided to forgive and forget. But. . . even if Senator Biden is not a racist it does not change the fact that his poorly worded (mis)statement comes across as not so thinly veiled racism. I expect that a good number of "anti-racist U*Us" would consider it to be racist, or at least they would if John McCain or Sarah Palin had said it. . .

Chalicechick said...

I guess we're just not as PC as you are, Robin.


Robin Edgar said...

That's me CC. Ever so PC. . .

"Personally I can't get the image of a barracuda with lipstick out of my mind. ;-)"

Now where was I?

Oh yes. I was pointing out how a good number of "anti-racist U*Us" would consider Joe Biden's description of Barack Obama as racist, even deeply racist. They certainly would not hold back anything if John McCain, Sarah Palin, or any other prominent Republican had made that exact same statement about Barack Obama. N'est-ce pas CC?

Chalicechick said...

Shrug. I don't have any objection to your being PC. I do think it's interesting that you seem to view being PC as a negative thing that UUs do, but are quite quick to point out political correctness slips that UUs don't bother with, but I don't mind it.

Just because no UUs pointed out that going to a Skins game is support of a culturally insensitive institution, and you did, doesn't mean that it isn't a point I should be considering.

Biden is so famous for screwing up his words that UUs might be inclined to let it go like the rest of the public did.

I mean, for the last eight years, we've had a President who, when questioned on the economy by a single mom responded with:

"You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that."

To say nothing of the infamous:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

It's not like smooth public speaking is something we're used to at this point.