Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Please discuss

Drive By Blogger uses a YRHT post to launch into his "in the land of the blind nolabloggers, I'm King Cyclops" schtick. (At least D-BB is funnier than his spiritual predecessor, Dangle. I'll give him that.) But D-BB does touch on an interesting issue that has been a burr in my saddle ever since Steve Bates made a similar point at YRHT several years ago. Here's the crux of it:

Is pre-judging someone based on where they live just as bad as racism or sexism?-- Or is provincialism and regionalism somehow not as immoral as other prejudices? For example, is it ever acceptable to rail on, say, Houstonians as a group? Why is it any better than railing on other groups -- religious, ethnic or otherwise?


el stevo said...

Because it's equally as stupid and ignorant. D-BB is right. It is, in fact, dare I say, hypocritical. What a fucking surprise though, huh?

Anonymous said...

With the exception of railing on Houstonians, yes it is just as bad.

bayoustjohndavid said...

I started to make the same comment as D-BB on your post a couple of weeks ago. I will point out out that I made a similar argument a while back (I linked to it Sat.) -- you were the only person who commented on that post back then. The funny thing was, that post only preceded Dangle's blow-up with the NOLA blogosphere by a few weeks. I started to email it to him, but didn't bother. You can see something similar in national Democratic politics -- Obama supporters really seem unaware of the not-so-subtle elitism in the "Bubba" and "Bunker" characterizations that they're so fond of. However, I do see that more in the (formerly?)Obama loving/ Clintons hating media than in the Obama camp itself.

A gay rights post followed by a Gina Gershon post, is there a message here? An attempt to shore up part of your base before your next cmpaign?

bayoustjohndavid said...

From the above link (I know how it looks to quote yourself at length):

Something should be apparent from the above; racial fears weren't the initial cause of America's suburbanization, though they may have later become a primary cause. It occurred in cities without sizable minority populations; transportation was the primary factor in determing when it occurred. As to why it occurred, housing costs and the fact that GI bill favored new home construction provided the initial impetus. Of course, nationwide, people fled the problems that followed, but the term "white flight" is not a totally accurate one.

If you're thinking that New Orleans is different, the suburbanization all followed desegragation, you'd of course be largely correct. But it also followed the opening of the GNO bridge in 1958 and the expansion of the Causeway in 1969 (originally opened 1956). Still, you'd have to be living in utter denial to deny that race wasn't a major factor, but up until Katrina, housing was much more affordable outside of New Orleans. Put yourself in the position of a young, middle-come couple planning to raise a family as recently as 2004. Would you rather face the daily commute to the north shore, or would you rather gamble on your ability to get your children into one of the city's magnet schools? Factor in the cost of housing, and it wouldn't be such an easy choice.

Daniel Z. said...

The further away I travel from Orleans Parish, the more racism I see. Is it wrong for me to state that fact? No.

Is it wrong of me to point out that when campaigning for a Democrat (David Gereighty) on the Northshore that many people told us (in public, shockingly enough) that they would never vote for a Democrat because Democrats are a bunch of "N****R LOVERS". No, it isn't. It also doesn't mean that I believe every man, woman, and child who lives on the northshore are racists. However, since the KLAN is still alive and well on the northshore, OVERT racism is still alive and well there as well.

I know that when I made my comment about St. Benard Parish, that it was a satirical criticism of the decision of their governmental body and not a criticism of every man woman and child of the parish.

When Gentilly Girl stated that perhaps St. Tammany didn't have enough racists I did not take it as her saying that everyone on the Northshore are racists either.

There is also something to be said about people not taking satire so seriously.

shawn said...

Any time you group a whole bunch of people together under any one umbrella you're bound to have problems, because just about any grouping you can manage to come up with is going to have a pretty diverse cross section of people.

You can maybe get away with making fun of someone's town a little bit more than something like racism because arguably people have a choice where they live. But in reality, not everyone can just pack up and leave (not even for a hurricane.)

All that being said, there are general regional differences, both at the scale of different parts of Louisiana, and at a national scale throughout the country. Pretending that there aren't isn't a particularly useful direction to go in.

el stevo said...

This is such a bullshit forum and most of you are full of shit. Lets look at the term "redneck" shall we? Is it a racial term? Well, it only refers to white people. Most of you fling around the term "redneck" without thinking twice. Is there a black equivalent of the term? One that you would feel as uncomfortable flinging about? Is the term "nigger" the black equivalent of the term "redneck". No, you certainly would not feel as comfortable using it. Are there black folk who exist that are the equivalent of the types of white people often described as "rednecks"? It would be silly to think otherwise, would it not? Are black people that much more enlightened than white people that they do not have a sect of their demographic worthy of such contemptible terms? Hmm . . I've got an idea, maybe we should stop using terms like "redneck" whilst expressing utter disgust at the use of other terms like "nigger". That way, perhaps we wouldn't seem so rediculously hypocritical.

oyster said...

No illustrative YRHT links to buttress your point, el stevo?

If we're going to pretend that words don't have an historical context, perhaps we can start "equating" words like "redneck" and "nigger". But then we're just pretending that certain words don't carry a lot of baggage, and subtext-- which they do.

el stevo said...

All terms have a historical context oyster, just not necessarily the historical context that you care about.


bayoustjohndavid said...

"This is such a bullshit forum and most of you are full of shit."

Stevo, do you always attack what you want to attack, whether it's there to attack or not? I count four commenters other than you and oyster. Anonymous and I said that prejudice is prejudice, even if it's the type of prejudice that makes some liberals feel morally superior to other white people. Shawn and Daniel Z. pretty much said that it's not prejudice but fact. Oyster didn't express an opinion, you make the majority opinion that it is wrong. You were so anxious to level your charge against a group, that you didn't bother to examine the facts.

It wouldn't surprise if more "it's O.K." comments come in, in which case, I'd share your response. But to attack a group for behavior it hasn't yet shown is, of course, prejudiced.

Owen Courreges said...


Well, we can't assume that there's anything objective about how "wrong" it is to generalize based on given characteristic. Because our nation's dialogue on racial issues is so hopelessly broken, a situation has arisen where any negative racial generalization by whites against another racial group will put you up against a proverbial firing squad (although it doesn't apply in reverse). The same is usually true for sexism as well.

Other generalizations don't carry as much P.C. baggage, so people don't get so uptight about it. Regional fighting is considered normal, and generalizations generally proceed from that which are really no more invidious than any other type of negative stereotyping. Most people try to maintain thick skin and ignore the stereotypes because they have their own prejudices themselves. The difference between that and racism or sexism lies in society's gut reaction; there's no real logic to it.

Daniel Z. said...

David: Nowhere did I say it was ok to prejudge someone based on where they live, did I?

My intent was to say that there are ignorant racists on the Northshore and in St. Bernard but that jokes refering to those racists should not be taken to be a statement on the populous as a whole.

bayoustjohndavid said...

I wondered how to word that without offending more people. My point, quite simply, was that, at most, two people said anything that even remotely defended that kind of comment.

charlotte said...

Well here's my 2 cents.

Sometimes you have to trust your gut on things.
Simply put, if a person or group *repeatedly* makes fun of another group,, to the point that the observer notices a trend, I say there's a problem.
As for the post and comments in question, it didn't give me a good feeling.
Now, I kinda-sorta know Oyster so I think I can assume he was actually joking. (Haven't we had this conversation before????)
Basically, I agree with Bayou S. David.
I'll spare you my elitism/classism is as bad as racism speech. :)

jeffrey said...

For the record, I am pretty much "morally superior to other white people" I did (almost) have enough sense to steer clear of this silly discussion, right?

Huck said...

I'm a Catholic and I make Catholic jokes. I'm a New Orleanean and I make New Orleans jokes. My mother's family all hail from St. Bernard Parish, which makes me half-Chalmatian. I make St. Bernard Parish jokes. And then there's Boudreaux and Thibodaux from da Bayou ...

I guess I fall out as one of those who thinks that there's very little harm, in the end, in light-hearted joking based around regional stereotypes, as much as I think there's very little harm in light-hearted joking about Chicago Bears fans, Oprah afficionados, or Grateful Dead groupies.

Perhaps one might call such joking tasteless or crude, but I wouldn't say that it rises to the same level as racism or sexism. The latter are much more completely linked to historic oppression based on an immutable physical characteristic, but I think systematic discrimination or oppression against anyone simply because of a neighborhood affiliation in this day and age is a claim that just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. If someone doesn't like or feel comfortable in a particular place, with its warts as well as its wonders, he or she can disassociate from it. The same cannot be said of race, gender, age, etc.

If I'm missing something here, I guess that means I have to rethink my appreciation of Garrison Keillor's presentation of his Minnesota/Lutheran Lake Woebegone community.