Debunking the oldest and worst argument ever about the “N word.”
This guy’s last point is flakey. To say ‘Group A may use this word, Group B may not’ is not ONE standard - the standard being set is ‘Can word X be used?’ - saying one group can and can’t IS the double standard.
Okay. No. This is a perfect example of someone who isn’t thinking clearly about how “standards” work. There are countless examples of standards we apply in our everyday lives that do not simply say “everyone can do it or no one can do it.”
When we set standards about driving a car, do we say “either everybody can or nobody can”? No. We agree that some people can do it safely and some people cannot. In addition, we agree that most people who can drive a car still cannot drive certain vehicles (taxicabs, 18-wheelers) unless they are part of a smaller sub-group that has a special license. We have a standard that brings different results for different people, depending on the situation. Nobody finds anything strange about this, it’s what a standard is supposed to do.
When we set a standard for who can take various medications, do we say “either everyone can take it or no one can take it?” No. We agree that some people can take it safely and some cannot. And within the group of people who can take it safely, we agree that some people can take different amounts, at different times, than others. Nobody finds anything strange about this. It’s what a standard is supposed to so.
And then there are all the similarly nuanced standards that we apply constantly in our social interactions, which I won’t detail here because, umm, I already covered this in the video.
But, yeah. No. A standard doesn’t have to say “everybody can or nobody can” in order to be a fair and proper standard. And all of us usually understand that. So I wish we could understand it about this word, just like we do for everything else.
Except… with the medicines example, noone is saying ‘you can’ or ‘you can’t’ - it’s more ofa guideline, ‘you should’ or ‘you shouldn’t’ - it’s not really a standard as much as advice.
Actually sometimes standards for medicine are legal standards that say you can and can’t, while some standards function as guidelines that don’t carry a legal penalty. The standards we apply to what is appropriate in conversation are usually (though not always) of the latter variety. So if you prefer to simply call the latter a guideline instead of a standard, I suppose that’s fine. Nobody is saying white people should go to jail or pay a fine to the county courthouse whenever they tweet the N-word. But this semantic distinction wouldn’t alter the question at hand. In that formulation it would still be a perfectly normal guideline, and not a “double-guideline” or “double-advice.”
Some people can drive well, some cannot drive well, some cannot drive at all - again, this is true but does not really serve well as a parallel to saying ‘one group of people may use this word, just because they can, but another may not.’
And this is the crux: for you to say “just because they can” is willfully ignoring/distorting what I’ve actually said, both here and in the video. It’s not “just because they can.” It is for specific, substantive reasons that I have laid out repeatedly even though they should be obvious: when there is a slur that’s traditionally used against a certain group, it will always have a different shade of meaning and a different impact when people inside that group use it, compared to people outside of that group using it. That’s not “just because they can.” It’s because there is a real and meaningful difference. Do you really deny that this is the case? Do you really not see how there’s a meaningful difference in context when someone who isn’t black uses the word?
And please note that I never, here or in the video, argued for a blanket all-or-nothing boundary that says it’s always appropriate for black people and never appropriate for other people in any context. I didn’t call for Huckleberry Finn to be taken off the shelves. I made no assertions about precisely how the boundaries should differ (in fact I said this question can be debatable), I simply affirmed that the boundaries should, in fact, differ.
I see your point in the general perspective, but I just don’t think that it serves well as a rebuttal to the point I made, which was pertinent specifically to the guy in this video.
I’m the guy in the video.
Jay Smooth continuing to school folks whether they like it or not.