May 13, 2014 § 82 Comments
Statistically speaking, I’d guess that when someone in our modern culture uses the word “racism” in a discussion to accuse someone else of racism the odds are better than even that I would substantively agree with the position of the accused not the accuser.
That doesn’t mean that racism isn’t real or isn’t morally wrong. Racism is a real thing, and it is morally wrong.
But as a matter of how the word gets used statistically in conversation I am these days more likely to agree with the accused than with the accuser, because the function of the word in the discussion is as a kind of talisman or incantation to tarnish a particular point of view as beyond the pale. And since “beyond the pale” these days tends to mean “not authentically liberal enough”, ceteris paribus I am more likely to be in substantive agreement with the illiberal point of view than the liberal point of view.
There are plenty of words like this, and they multiply and proliferate as our nominalist society attempts to win cultural territory through the conquest of language. “Misogynist”. “Unpatriotic”. Heck, even “homophobic”, although I don’t think I’ve ever met a bona fide homophobe.
There is probably even a word for this kind of word, though I am not hipster enough to know it offhand. And even if you told it to me, what guarantee is there that we could even understand each other?