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Feb 26, 2010

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justcorbly

Presumably, the Iredell County Young Republicans would prefer that Raleigh is run by slick country lawyers and heterosexual white people, like it says in the Bible.

The currency of power in Raleigh is, umm, currency.

Spag

Meanwhile, former DNC Chairman and Presidential candidate Howard Dean said that those involved with the "Tea Party" movement were racists in another act of "carefully coded speech aimed at the presumed prejudices of an audience" which might also be considered "hate speech" in some quarters.

Condemn them both if they are lying or condemn neither. Otherwise, spare us the outrage.

Account Deleted

Things are really bad in Raleigh but Jim Forrester is not the answer.

We need to keep the focus on "the hog barons and the real estate operators, the career pols and their cronies" in the NCDP and not let them weasel out because of some idiot from the hinterland.

designation

If only the gays ran Raleigh...

Wait. Tom Fetzer was mayor of Raleigh for a while, right?

justcorbly

When did conservatives collectively decide that pointing to the political leveraging of race is, itself, racist?

justcorbly

Jeffrey, I'd prefer we keep the focus on "the hog barons and the real estate operators, the career pols and their cronies" regardless of party affiliation. I drove by Republican HQ on Hillsborough Street yesterday and did not see a glowing halo hovering over the building.

The Political Disease that afflicts North Carolina also afflicts the entire country, and it isn't doesn't care about party affiliation.

Bubba

"When did conservatives collectively decide that pointing to the political leveraging of race is, itself, racist?"

We got tired of the misuse of race leveraging and the misuse of the race card a LONG time ago, corbs.

Flyover America is not as stupid as certain elements of the political class need them to be in order to maintain the use of this particularly obnoxious tool.

Roch101

"We got tired of the misuse of race leveraging and the misuse of the race card a LONG time ago, corbs. "

So they decided to show us how its done.

Account Deleted

Iredell and Catawba counties are the balance to the backwoods reds from down east. Outside of being called an "N* lover" by preppies in high school who didn't like my affinity for Air Jordans, the only other time I've been called an "N* lover" was by multiple callers when in my first month on the job in Hickory when I covered in depth the life of an older black man shot by police in Newton as he walked with his rifle to the shooting range.

I was fresh out of college and didn't know at that time that people still lived in the 19th Century.

Roch101

You give conservatives a good name, Jeff.

Bubba

"So they decided to show us how its done."

Nope.

We leave that sort of thing to the experts.....people like you.

Spag

Playing the race card is damaging regardless of who does it if it is based on a falsity.

designation

Thus spake Spagly:

"...if it is based on a falsity"

So, do we have marriage equality in North Carolina?

Do we even have civil unions?

Apparently teh gayz don't run Raleigh.

Falsity. Nice word.

Account Deleted

Apology from Forrester.

FWIW.

designation

Forrester offers the classic non-apology apology.

"I wasn’t trying to be ugly or anything like that, and if it came out that way..."

"I was just expressing my opinion..."

"...I didn't mean to offend anybody."

Yeah, Senator.

You just want to write second-class citizenship into the constitution. Why would anyone consider that offensive?

In his "apology" Forrester continues to press his incorrect "facts" about the legislative leadership in Raleigh.

Is R.C Soles really a "city" lawyer? I know he's from around Tabor City, but that place ain't exactly an urban metropolis.

You'll forgive me for thinking that Senator Basnight isn't 1) a lawyer and 2) from a city....because he isn't. I'm not sure if Dare County has any "cities."

Try again, Senator Forrester.

This time, with feeling.

Dave Ribar

Sam:

Do you have a reference or link for the Howard Dean quote?

Account Deleted

I saw it here Thursday.

Roch101

That is "it?"

We might want to let Sam speak for himself, because that does not support Sam's claim that "Howard Dean said that those involved with the "Tea Party" movement were racists..."

That "it" would make Sam seem like an exaggerator who does not understand the meaning of racism. So, hopefully, he was referring to something else.

Account Deleted

Roch: I pretty much get from the story that Howard Dean said the TP movement is racist. His comments weren't in the same galaxy of nastiness as Forrester but they were within the race as political weapon universe.

Roch101

"I pretty much get from the story..."

Sure, you are free to agree with a portrayal. Ribar and I would like to see if Sam's "Howard Dean said those involved with the Tea Party movement were racists" aligns with anything Howard Dean actually said, thus the request for Sam to refer us to the Howard Dean quote he had in mind.

Account Deleted

Roch: Are you saying that Howard Dean did not imply that the TP movement is racist?

Roch101

I don't get that from the partial quote in the article to which you link, if that's what you are referring to. I'd have to see the entire sentence and in its context before I could say for sure. And I'd still like to see whatever Sam was referring to also.

Ed Cone

In my post, I tried to judge Forrester's remarks for accuracy by asking if the groups he named are really "running Raleigh." His statement clearly leaves out some obvious power centers, and greatly overestimates the relative power of the named groups, and does so for some ugly political reasons.

That's the Forrester story. It stands on its own.

But does it also invite discussion of other remarks, politicians, and audiences?

Sure, it can (although that wouldn't excuse Forrester or make it less important to understand why he said what he did).

So, what did Dean actually say? What can we say about the accuracy or inaccuracy of his remarks? Was it "carefully coded speech aimed at the presumed prejudices of an audience," or was it something else?

Account Deleted

Well, I didn't pay much attention to the story because I tune out of the obviously partisan attack story these days. They don't do much for me.

I can say that his comment is inaccurate in that most folks under 40 have grown up in an integrated society surrounded by folks who don't look like them.

I would also say that Garofalo's comments are very vulgar and in the same league as Forrester's.

Again, I tune it out from both sides these days.

Ed Cone

Except that Garofalo is an actress and comedian, and Forrester is an elected representative of the people.

Spag

Yes, it was Ed. Unless Roch can offer some other reasonable and credible interpretation of Dean's statement.

Suppose Forrester said something like "they don't look like us". That would immediately be pounced upon as a racial reference. Why should Dean's statement about an America "where everyone looked like them" be construed any differently?

Both are appeals to racism/race baiting. It is just as nasty for Democrats to accuse their opponents of racism over policy differences as it is for Forrester to make blatant racial appeals. Every time something like that happens the goal post is moved.

Roch101

" Unless Roch can offer some other reasonable and credible interpretation of Dean's statement. " -- Spag

Before we start arguing about the meaning of a statement, can we start with Ribar's question: What statement?

justcorbly

>>Suppose Forrester said something like "they don't look like us". That would immediately be pounced upon as a racial reference. Why should Dean's statement about an America "where everyone looked like them" be construed any differently?

Because attributing characteristics to members of a group based on race is racism. Asserting, rightly or wrongly, that somone is motivated by racism is not.

Dave Ribar

Sam/Jeff:

Sam's post said that "Howard Dean said that those involved with the 'Tea Party' movement were racists." The post also contained additional quoted material. Nowhere in the linked article was Howard Dean quoted as calling Tea Partiers "racists." Additionally, Sam's quote doesn't appear in the article.

Account Deleted

I'll have to admit that I am not following y'all's logic on this one.

I don't think there is any comparison b/t Forrester and Dean.

However, Dean did say that people in the TP movement are motivated by race. Most reasonable people would therefore conclude he was calling members of the TP movement racists.

What am I missing?

cheripickr

Jeff, you're not going to.

There isn't.

Yes, he did, and yes, they would.

Nothing.

Participating in these types of discussions is pointless and simply provides more oxygen to keep the fires burning.

Spag

Ed's point was that Forrester may have been engaging in "really carefully coded speech aimed at the presumed prejudices of an audience." Same thing with Dean who said "the Tea Party is about a generation who grew up in an America where everyone looked like them".

Dean is apparently going to be excused (big surprised) while Forrester isn't. I say they both should be criticized unless what either of them said is true. I guess that makes me too consistent.

Sorry about that.

cheripickr

"In a speech Wednesday night at the George Washington University, Howard Dean told College Democrats that “the Tea Party is about a generation who grew up in an America where everyone looked like them” and that the GOP won’t be effective until they “stop pushing the hate button.”"

Duh!

See, Jeff, here's how it works: That cannot be construed as a racist accusation because Dean did not say verbatim "Tea party members are racists." ie, it's been taken out of context and deliberately distorted by rabid partisans.

However if three avowed cyberenemies start mudwrestling in the middle of a thread, and somebody says "there goes the neighborhood" or "somebody hose those guys off" that's definitionally racist, because,.....well, how else could anyone interpret it?

Understand?

Ged

When we're talking about the history of African Americans in this country and someone says "break out the fire hoses" or "hose them off", yeah to me that's racist.

Apparently not to you for some reason.

David Wharton

I don't get the "carefully coded speech" part of what you said, Ed. Seems like this guy's pretty out in the open that he doesn't think African Americans or homosexuals should run things in Raleigh (or slick lawyers either). What other message is "encoded" in his utterance?

I've heard this "code" meme before, and I don't think it makes much sense. It rests on the premise that sneaky, reactionary politicians can "encode" their racist/homophobic messages in language that is only decipherable by the ignorant rubes who are their natural constituency. It's a code only understandable by dumb people! (And by the occasional astute liberal who has cracked it.)

justcorbly

Whether or not the statements by Forrester or even Dean are properly labeled "hate speech" is immaterial. Our opinion of a remark, and the word's we use to describe it, do not change the nature of the remark.

A racial component exists in almost every aspect of American life, whether or not it rises to the level of actual racism.

Ed Cone

DW -- Forrester's overt message implicates blacks and gays as political rivals, but it carries extra baggage with it.

He can't just stand up and say "blax and homos is the enemy!," so he couches that message in a phony analysis of the political power structure in Raleigh.

Coded messages are without a doubt part of politics, including racial politics. Loaded phrases include "Law and order," "welfare," "he's one of us," "states rights," etc etc etc.

Andrew Brod

I agree with Spag when he says that both Forrester and Dean "should be criticized unless what either of them said is true." So let's check them for accuracy.

As Ed notes, it's pretty silly to argue that "blax and homos" are running things in Raleigh. If the criterion is accuracy, we can discard Forrester's remark right off the bat. I don't see racism everywhere, but because of this remark's faint link to truth, I see racism here.

What about Dean's remark? Is the Tea Party movement driven, at least in part, by racism? (Not every Tea Partier has to be a racist for the answer to this question to be yes.) If the answer is no, then even though Dean's remark wasn't racist per se, it's as unreasonable as Forrester's. (Lest we forget, non-racist speech can be inappropriate too.)

For what it's worth, most liberals would agree with Dean. Others argue that the Tea Party isn't quite as racist as we might think. To be sure, it's harder to assess Dean's remark. Simple facts can more easily be brought to bear on Forrester's remark.

So on one hand we have Forrester's remark, which can be easily dismissed on grounds of accuracy, and Dean's, which is more judgment than statement of fact.

designation

Forrester's a damn liar.

Simple enough.

David Wharton

I wrote a long and devastatingly cogent refutation of the whole "coded message" thing ... and typepad ate it.

Ed, consider yourself refuted.

Ed Cone

DW, if you can refute the racial implications of the phrases I cited above, then you will have produced a stunning work that deserves national attention, as this coding (along with related notions, e.g., the Southern Strategy) is widely accepted as a given in American politics.

If you are just arguing that Forrester's remarks were not coded beyond their obvious, ill-begotten meaning, I would disagree, but your cogent argument would not be national news.

cheripickr

As we discuss whether or not racism is an integral component of the tea party movement, with Andrew graciously and open-mindedly allowing for the "moderate" possibility that they just MIGHT not be QUITE as racist as WE MIGHT THINK, it occurred to me that one of you guys needs to clean up this horribly biased,lopsided, shamefully misleading portrayal.

I mean c'mon, not even one hint of a mention of the presumed racist element, even from it's harshest critics. And I thought these guys were supposed to be fair and balanced and present both sides.

Here's a chance for you citizen journalists to make a difference. It’s practically begging you to.

"This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please improve this article if you can. (January 2010)"


David Wharton

Ed, well of course I wrote a stunning comment of staggering genius. And since it was written here, it has de facto national attention.

My point was that a statement with multiple implications is very different from a "code," which has only one interpretation. It's true that political catchphrases like "welfare reform" and "law and order" were vague enough to draw support from some unsavory constituencies who could infer that their implementation implied things that they were in favor of, such as giving less money to poor blacks and putting more of them in jail.

But the use of the "code" metaphor implies that that's all those phrases meant, and that anyone to whom those phrases appealed was ipso facto a racist. Thus the "code" meme is usually used as an enthymeme standing for an invalid syllogism:

Racists are for X;
Candidate Jones is also for X;
Therefore candidate Jones is a racist.

So using the code metaphor is often a sneaky trick to stop an actual discussion of welfare reform, civil unrest, federalism, etc., by making people defend themselves against charges of racism.

In the case of Forrester, his literal statements are quite bad enough on their own (and btw, that's a clever rhetorical move you made by rendering it with misspellings and bad grammar). We could infer that his quotes implicate many worse things if we assume a lot of bad things about Forrester. but since I've never heard of the guy before, I'll stop at interpreting his statements as stupid and wrong.

Ed Cone

I think you're being overly narrow in your definition of "coded speech," and also that it's incorrect to say a code has only one interpretation. The point of coded speech is that it has more than one possible interpretation, yet still communicates effectively with its intended audience.

You are correct that people use almost any excuse to avoid discussing issues they don't want discussed. We saw this recently on the local with Deena Hayes and the hotel issue.

But that does not mean that people don't say things -- e.g., "states rights," "San Francisco liberal" -- with clear meanings beyond the literal. Acknowledging that is not an attempt to stifle conversation, but to understand it.

David Wharton

The "coded speech" metaphor, as far as I understand it, seems to be based on the sense of "code" as in morse code, semaphor, etc.

Can you name such a code whose "point" is to have more than one interpretation? If you can, then you might be right about my interpretation being too narrow. But if you can't, then the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that I'm wrong. And simply contradicting me isn't an argument.

Ed Cone

I think you're misreading the phrase "coded speech" by comparing it to things like Morse code and semaphor.

Morse code substitutes dots and dashes for letters. If you don't know the code, it's meaningless. If you know the code, understanding the message is a matter of straightforward translation. It's not murky or nuanced.

Coded speech of in the sense discussed here is deliberately nuanced. It has at least two meanings -- the stated meaning (states rights: states should have more power to decide things themselves) and the implied meaning (long live Jim Crow). There may be other meanings that are suggested as well (e.g., historical acceptance of armed resistance to federal authority). And it's often not a secret code -- people who supported civil rights were supposed to get it, too, and be intimidated by it.

To choose another example, from pop culture: If the Da Vinci code was like Morse code, the painting would have been dots and dashes; instead, it was a rich tableau with great meaning in and of itself -- multiple meanings, to those who knew about Christianity and Renaissance art and politics -- quite apart from its secret meaning.

Spag

"So using the code metaphor is often a sneaky trick to stop an actual discussion of welfare reform, civil unrest, federalism, etc., by making people defend themselves against charges of racism."

David is absolutely correct here. Invoking "states rights" for example is a legitimate and Constitutional argument. For example, federal unfunded mandates invoke "states rights". The Terry Schiavo matter involved "states rights". Many conservatives believe strongly in a smaller federal government with fewer powers and make an appeal to "states rights" to advance that idea.

However, if the mere invocation of the term to a sympathetic audience is automatically deemed racist (as if this is the 1950's we're living in) then an honest debate about real policy considerations will be stifled.

Similarly, the whole notion that people oppose Obama's agenda merely because he is black is another form of politically correct censorship designed to avoid honest criticism.

Liberals love to invoke the "code words" theory to end debate of legitimate conservative positions. But like so many issues, they don't like it when their contrivances are used against them.

Brandon

I know I'm not as well read as most of you, so can someone help me understand what is racist about "state's rights"?

Ed Cone

Right, Sam, "states rights" can have more than one meaning -- that's why the Morse code comparison is not apt here -- the multiple meanings are why it's coded speech.

I don't think anyone is saying it's "automatically deemed racist" to discuss the idea of state vs federal power.

But neither would anyone with a working knowledge of US history argue that "states rights" was not used to signal opposition to desegregation (there's your quick explanation, BB).

Sometimes symbols or phrases get appropriated, and there's no getting them back, no matter their value or your intention. Not saying that's the case with states rights, although anyone who uses it in American politics and acts surprised at interpretation is being willfully naive.

David Wharton

I didn't read The Da Vinci code, but isn't the "encoded" message in the artwork intended to be quite unambiguous, though difficult to decipher? The fact that the medium of encoding is complex is irrelevant to that message.

But putting that aside, when you say of political "coded speech," "it's often not a secret code," that amounts to saying it's not a code at all in the Da Vinci sense of "secret code known only to initiates." In every case of "coded speech" I've seen cited, the implications were clear to everyone. (See my comments about the "dumb people's code" above.)

Nor can you argue that nuance and multiple meanings are defining characteristics of "coded speech." All speech has many possible implications, depending upon the context(s) of utterance, and political speech is usually carefully crafted to suggest multiple implications to a variety of constituencies.

Thus when Obama promised "hope and change," the phrase implied to a (very disappointed) friend of mine that he would get us out of Afghanistan. To others it implied that he would roll back the Patriot Act. Etc. etc. etc. If language that is intentionally vague and implicationally rich is "coded speech," then all political speech is coded speech, and the concept is vacuous -- except as a convenient way of pejorizing the speech of your political opponents.

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