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October 13, 2008
Not Quite Right (with caveats)

I don't agree with Melissa McEwan that McCain saying he was going to "whip [Obama's] you-know-what in this debate" was inappropriate.

While "owning the context is precisely the pity phrase I was struggling to find in my own post on the topic, I disagree with her that it's impossible to extricate a person's race and/or gender from any discussion.

Like with anything, there has to be a line. Certain words ("uppity" or "boy") are loaded with racist baggage. "Uppity" is also freighted with anti-feminist baggage. Other words, and we all know them when we see them are loaded with baggage.

A threat to whup someone's butt is not. It's a kind of quasi-folksy patois that's in common usage in a thousand ways in this country, essentially none of which (in my experience) have any particular or specific racial context. (If I'm wrong, please correct me.) Specifically, it's the kind of "just plain folks" colloquialism that many Republicans adopt when speaking to "the base."

It's the kind of language that makes like the auto mechanic with grease under his fingernails and a worrying balloon mortgage payment looming on the horizon think that the rich, old, white guy running for office is really, underneath it all, "just like me."

Which is not to say some individuals somewhere in the boonies haven't used this specific expression as an insult, but by that criteria, none of us would ever be able to say anything. There is nothing that some lunatic somewhere hasn't used as an insult at one time or another.

Anyhow. I'm making this post mostly to say I'm green with envy that I wasn't able to distill my thoughts down to "owning the context." And stating, on the record, that I'm going to steal it and use it.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:26 PM