On Sunday, someone tagged Christina in this image on Facebook. She then tagged me and Emmy. I’d seen it before and had in fact planned to blog about it, but when my computer(s) were stolen, I lost my copy of this image. Glad to have it back again. I would have simply stored it for the time being and continued procrastinating, but one of Christina’s FB friends made a comment or two that I felt the need to publicly (and non-anonymously) disagree with.
The person I have labelled as ‘John Doe’ is someone I am not FB friends with and know nothing about except what he presents to the public/friends of friends. From my limited profile access, I gathered the following information:
–his Facebook name includes a first name commonly given to white men in the US; his last name reads as “non-ethnic” but not particularly WASPy.
–his profile picture is of a white male, over 18 and under 30 (i am bad at ages)
–he is affiliated with the most prestigious public university in our state
–he is affiliated with the secular student alliance (or something similarly named) at said university.
I don’t expect Christina to make excuses for him or for her friendship with him. I don’t ask her to remove him from her friends list either, because that’s not my place. If it were me and we hadn’t had any significant Facebook interaction in the past year or so, I would severely limit his access to my profile or consider removing him entirely. But anyone who has met Christina in real life knows she likes to surround herself with the opposition. 😉
John Doe appears educated and articulate, and is more respectful than 90% of internet commenters who would publicly hold his stance. There might even be a few issues on which we agree. On this subject, however, he is completely wrong.
I stand by everything I wrote here and decided to stop engaging after a while, because I have better things to do than argue with a bigot, however unintentional or “informed” his bigotry may be. I also engaged in this argument because I hoped that others who read it would learn from my arguments, whatever opinions they hold.
a few comments and I’m done:
1) to learn more about Godwin’s Law, click here.
2) Rush Limbaugh is not ignorant, he is deliberate.
3) No social scientist worth their salt would ever use dictionary.com to prove a point. And Urban Dictionary (the slang one) is relevant only anecdotally unless you have statistics on who writes the entries.
4) unsurprisingly, I also disapprove of the phrases ‘grammar nazi’ and ‘soup nazi’, although the latter is more acceptable in the context of Seinfeld than the former.
5) the original card also presents a false comparative. On the list of the worst crimes of the Third Reich, invading Poland should be nowhere to be found. Whether it was a poor military decision or a brilliant one is something I am not qualified to discuss.
5) if he said any of these things to me in person, I would seriously consider punching him in the face. (OK, to be honest, I’d probably just walk away in the middle of the argument.) And not a single member of my family perished due to the Holocaust, in any country.
[the only things that have been changed in this excerpt are the names.]
John Doe eh, in fairness though the word ‘nazi’ gets tossed around a LOT.. as in grammar nazi, soup nazi.. etc.., without those people much getting called on it.
Sunday at 4:51pm · Like
|Queen Christina Sure, but I think feminism is a lot more important than prescriptivism and soup, and so I think it’s more important to protect it my going on the offensive and not letting it be dismissed and belittled by casual use of language.Sunday at 4:53pm · Like|
|John Doe I think I might be ok with the term, had it not been coined (afaik) by Rush Limbaugh as part of an ignorant conservative misogyny.Some feminists desperately need to be dismissed. Unless you are arguing in blanket fashion that anyone adopting the label “feminist” is immune to critical literary devices.Sunday at 4:59pm · Like|
|Lady Godiva I saw this months ago and have been meaning to blog about this since. Thanks for finding it again, because I lost the image when my computer was stolen.Yesterday at 12:34am · Like|
|@John — I am not OK with the term, because militant activism/political correctness is not the same as planned genocide.Yesterday at 12:35am · Like · 3 People|
|Emmy Lazarus@John — Godwin’s law, man. Godwin’s law.Yesterday at 12:36am · Like · 1 Person|
|John Doe @LadyG of course they aren’t the same. They’re compared metaphorically; in this case, a commonly accepted symbol of fascism is compared to militant activism. I find it unduly hyperbolic, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the literacy device is not meant imply the literal meaning.Yesterday at 1:32am · Like|
|Lady Godiva @John, I understand this as well. As a linguistics major and an activist (civil rights rather than one particular minority), I reject sloppy language/false comparisons. One can express one’s deep revulsion for individual feminists without comparing them to fascists. The term “feminazi” insults not just the feminists described but also the memory of all those who perished at the hands of the Nazis.Yesterday at 7:16am · Like|
|John Doe I agree it is an insult to the feminists- it’s designed to be an insult. It isn’t necessarily an insult to victims of the Nazi’s because “nazi” has more than one meaning in our culture (and the divergence of meanings is organic and natural to language, not “sloppy” usage). One of the meanings is now simply “fascistic”.This newer, more generalized meaning is recorded in the dictionaries now as well, see http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nazi3. Sometimes Offensive. a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc.: a jazz nazi who disdains other forms of music; tobacco nazis trying to ban smoking.Yesterday at 10:05am · Like|
|John Doe I rather like using the word nazi in this sense, not the word “feminazi” which I never used but the more common terms like “grammar nazi”, which people immediately understand and, so far as I can tell, have not instantly devolved into fury over the way you seem to prescribe we should.I used to live in Germany and sometimes told my German girlfriend “stop being such a nazi” when she sounded demanding. I thought it was funny, and she, a freakin’ German, did too. The fact that I had personally visited Auschwitz with her changed none of this. It’s OK to relax sometimes. Every moment doesn’t have to be a desperate political battle. Every word doesn’t have to be a weapon.Yesterday at 1:31pm · Like|
|Lady Godiva It is more than OK to relax sometimes. Every word isn’t a weapon. The word “nazi” is a weapon. It is acceptable only when discussing history, political theory, or current events in fascism. You don’t want to argue sociolinguistics or moral relativism with me, bro.Yesterday at 2:19pm · Like|
|John Doe I’m not afraid.Yesterday at 2:23pm · Like|
|Emmy LazarusCute Auschwitz story, bro.Yesterday at 2:32pm · Like|
|Emmy Lazarus lol @ the “yo the germans are cool with it” line of reasoning.Yesterday at 2:34pm · Like|
|Lady Godiva: T2wished to be tagged.Yesterday at 3:05pm · Like|
|Queen ChristinaI think the point is that ‘Nazi’ is still an incredibly loaded term, and should be used to make a point that is actually related to Nazis rather than just whatever we happen to dislike. Otherwise, we are making sloppy use of language. Even if language changes organically such that it can be used in such terms as ‘grammar nazi’ that is still world apart from the actual, non-joking, demonization of feminism as a whole.I think there’s plenty of room for agreement here. John, after all the work that we atheists do to stop people from comparing us to Hitler and Nazis, and also stop them from using arguments that rely only on people they know personally, don’t you think it’s reasonable to expect you to apply that similarly to other issues? If feminism is at all important to you as atheism, it seems like you can give the same respect that you’d wish religious to give us.Yesterday at 3:17pm · Unlike · 1 Person|
|John Doe ” such terms as ‘grammar nazi’ that is still world apart from the actual, non-joking, demonization of feminism as a whole.”Here we disagree. If using “grammar nazi” is understood not to impugn all of “grammar” (clearly, it isn’t), then feminazi can’t be interpreted as *necessarily* impugning an entire movement. I see no justification for that.”If feminism is at all important to you as atheism, it seems like you can give the same respect that you’d wish religious to give us.”Indeed I do care. It’s because I respect it that I want to avoid it being misconstrued as a humorless, inviolable, sacred cow which can bear no unsavory criticism. If people can use nazi as a descriptor in common interactions without becoming pariahs, then we have to permit its usage here, too, even if we disagree with the comparison. If we don’t, then we might be hypocrites, or appear to want the same sacrosanct protection we deride in theological demagogues.
Yesterday at 4:00pm · Like
Respectful comments are always appreciated, no matter how short or long. I can’t promise a fast response, and if I think I’ve already addressed your point, I probably won’t repeat myself. Other people can do that for me, though! 😉