Friday, April 16, 2010

The Deplorable Word

I read this morning that a Roman Catholic bishop, the deplorable Richard Williamson, has been convicted in a German court of Holocaust denial. He's never been in Germany; the interview he gave was not broadcast in Germany. But somehow the fact that he gave a speech in another sovereign country gave a German court the power to fine him ten thousand euros. I will discuss this more directly in a minute.

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Readers who spent five minutes looking at this page can quickly figure out that I'm a big fan of C.S. Lewis, the British Christian apologist who died the same day as JFK in '63.

The finest (IMHO) of his NARNIA children's books, The Magician's Nephew, had an interesting passage.

In this book, Jadis, The White -- I mean, the "Non-Diverse" -- Witch of Narnia, is revealed to have been a witch-queen in another world, called Charn, before she came to Narnia. Charn was a magical world, like Narnia, but in its last stages of moral decrepitude. Jadis, it turns out, had a twin sister, with whom she fought a terrible civil war for the crown. And Jadis, being a powerful witch, knew a terrible magic spell, The Deplorable Word. If spoken, it would kill all life in the world except for that of the speaker.

At the end of the war, Jadis was defeated, except that, at the last minute, she spoke the Deplorable Word. And everyone in Charn died, except for her.

A Deplorable Word capable of destroying everything in the world? Ridiculous, right?

Okay then. If you don't believe a single word can be utterly destructive of the known world, try saying the "N-word" openly in your place of employment, particularly if you are employed, directly or indirectly, by the government. Your whole world will surely be destroyed, if nobody else's is.

I mention this because, today, there is a new N-word abroad in the land: "Teabagger."

Now, there are those who don't think that "Teabagger" is denegration, or profess not. But it is.

Now, it's true that certain individuals in the Tea Party movement sent tea-bags to their representatives last year. And it may be theoretically possible that a few of them may use it internally to other members of the movement. (I've never heard it, but it is possible; I would not know, as I have not -- yet -- been to a Tea Party rally.)

But the word "teabagger" has a specific meaning, and it has nothing to do with the Tea Party.

(WARNING: FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH MAY BE NSFW.) A teabagger is a homosexual who performs oral sex on another man's testicles. They were so named by a gay CNN news reporter ("It's hard to talk clearly when you're teabagging!"). So when you hear someone calling the movement or participants "Teabaggers," remember that they're really calling them "cocksuckers."

Teabagger is a dirty word. It is a term that should be avoided in the name of political civility.

And if certain, er, opponents of the tea party movement think that the fact that tea-partiers may have used the term internally, let them use the N-word at work because black people use it among themselves. For the logic is precisely the same.

On the other hand.... I'm not a big fan of deplorable-word logic. It should be possible to use ANY word, respectfully, in proper circumstances.

I remember a case a few years ago where a George Mason University Law School professor almost lost his job because he said the n-word during a discussion of the First Amendment free speech rights. That's just lunacy.

And I used the term "teabagger" myself in the satirical entry, below, about remaking The Wizard of Oz.

But.

As I mentioned at the start of this entry I read this morning that a Roman Catholic bishop, the deplorable (yes) Richard Williamson, has been convicted in a German court of Holocaust denial. He's never been in Germany; the interview he gave was not broadcast in Germany. But somehow the fact that he gave a speech in another sovereign country gave a German court the power to fine him ten thousand euros.

That is the end logic of deplorable-word-think. And that would be the death of the First Amendment, and our entire system of republican government, if taken as a model. The answer to bad speech is more speech, not a jail cell or a fine or a criminal conviction.

I loathe Richard Williamson, and think he is a fool and a loudmouth. But should he be a criminal just for expressing a stupid opinion? NO

If someone calls me a "teabagger," I should discourage him from using the term. Not jail him. Not destroy him. Not force him to lose his job or go to a political reeducation program.

And precisely the same treatment should be extended to the politically incorrect, no matter the language.

George Orwell got it right: linguistic tyranny leads to political tyranny. It's that simple.

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Keep it clean for gene.