Facebook is an interesting place, where people discuss things their grandmothers warned you never to discuss (religion and politics) with people that are sometimes complete strangers.
Everyone knows this leads to a lot of drama, which for the many part of the appeal of Facebook.
My Facebook friends are all, I thought, well meaning, empathetic, intelligent types with a strong Liberal leaning. No one I am friends with, ON LINE, is voting Trump. The whole Bernie vs. Hillary battle was interesting, as both sides fought with a vigor, and often unsportsmanlike conduct I thought I would only encounter among Conservative types.
One of my favorite “I’ve only met you online” Facebook friends is a young man named Pete*. Pete one day wants to run for political office. He’s incredibly intelligent. He was a Bernie supporter and switched over to Hillary when the time was right. He’s a dad, and it seems a good husband. I write “seems” as I only know him via his public image on Facebook.
That Facebook image is one of a strong young man that one day wants to run for political office. I admire that greatly. He seems to be someone that is more about doing, rather than just endlessly posting insults to those that disagree with him.
Recently he posted something that started a debate about “fragile snowflakes”. The
article was that big money donors were not donating money to Ivy League schools because of the new anti-bullying and sexual harassment policies of these schools. He even included someone had taken a school out of their will. This brought a very strong pro reaction from his friends, mostly white men commentary, about the “fragile snowflakes” who can’t attend college without protection.
This was not Pete’s commentary, but one women objected to the posts by his friends. She felt that worry about some rich white men leaving money to Ivy League schools, that truly already have huge endowments, was not reason enough to scrap some of these new policies. She pointed out it is also expensive to not put in some form of protection or clear guidelines for staff. If a school has kept a teacher on staff, that has had multiple complaints that have never been investigated, the chances of being sued is rather high.
Still, Pete’s reaction to his post by a female, was just “CUNT”. That’s it.
The men’s posts, agree or not, got a much more detailed and thought out response. The woman that disagreed got the one word insult. CUNT.
Because he has that word in his back pocket. It’s there to pull out. If Pete want to insult this woman, and wants do it with minimum effort on his part, he has no need to waste words. He can answer her with one word.
I then posted how I really felt his use of that word changed how I felt about him. I did not say I disliked him, indeed I said I still respected him, but respected him less because of his use of that word. Remember, I know him only via Facebook. I never ever expected him to use the word CUNT.
What followed was an attack on me as being part of the “Curse police”. These Liberals pointed out that Hillary herself used the word F#CK. I pointed out that some words, cunt included, were specific to one group. Those words were not what I expected Pete to use. He is a father of a daughter. He is happily married, he is supporting a woman candidate for congress. But Pete and his friends, white males all, defended the use of CUNT.
In other words, there are curse words, and there are CURSE WORDS that are racist or truly cross a line.
First “Liberal” argument I was given, “My wife uses the word cunt all the time, what is she not a woman? It’s fine with her!”
Well, yes she was elected speaker for all women. If she’s FINE with that word, then she speaks only for herself. I wasn’t saying using the word was wrong, I just was pointing out, I was shocked that someone considering a public life would use such a word in public.
Next was when pointed out that many other words are specific to a group, and would also be offensive. Among these were the “N word”. I was then told that my comparing the word “Cunt” to the N word was an insult to all Black people.
Still, I thought to myself, I’ve known more than one white person that has held the N word in their back pocket. This happened during a FB fight over the “Black Lives Matter” movement. A white online friend wrote, to “win” an argument with a Black friend, “I always knew when it came down to it, you would be a N#gger. You would choose your people over your friends.”
A lot of people hold in their “back pocket” a word they can pull out to win. Using that word they know will “annoy, but perhaps they don’t know the full extent of the power of that one word. A simple word, just a word, can destroy trust between two people. The white person was shocked that after “All the years we have known each other, he would unfriend me because of just one word.” He is “Not a racist”, doesn’t see how his use of that word, “which is just a word”, could end this friendship.
I don’t know if I was wrong to compare the two words. I was certainly not saying the the N word was as “bad” but I was saying that the word “cunt” belonged in the same category. Directed not as all people, but just one group. “Asshole”, anyone can be one.
Cunt is almost always women. One poster informed me he called Trump a “Cunt” and that meant it was FINE. Another pointed out there were lots of words specific to just white males. “Douche” was one of these words. Someone calling him one of these “White male insults” would hurt him as much as Pete’s “cunt” hurt the woman he was replying to on the post.
After that it was lots of white men ganging up on the woman that was “Hey, Pete, if you really want to be a public figure, you have to watch what you post in public.” It was more helpful advice than anything else.
Pete’s reply was very hurtful. He ignored the fact that I wrote I admired him. He ignored the fact that I wrote about his good works. He claimed I ignored all the good things he did, and focused to an inordinate degree to his use of the word “Cunt”. That all the good he does, means that he gets a break and is allowed to use that word as often as he wishes. He doesn’t need the “delicate little snowflake” vote. He’s proven by his actions he supports women. That he chooses to use a word that perhaps isn’t very insulting, or at least he’s decided it’s not, does not mean he insults women.
It reminded me of the time that someone suggested in a blog it was fine for Justin Timberlake to use the “N word” as he was friends with so many Black musicians and well respected by them. One reader replied with the suggestion Timberlake would keep that respect and those friends but not using the word.
Yes, there is that trust issue. Because the next time some woman disagrees with him, instead of replying to her with the same respect he replied to the males, he can pull that word out of his back pocket. She did not call him anything bad, she just disagreed with his comments. Yes, Pete is a wonderful person. Probably one day when he does run for office, someone might go through his FB page and see he was in the habit of replying to women in this manner whenever he was too lazy to dignify them with a real answer.
It is a short cut. It’s a lazy way to argue. It wasn’t the word alone, it was his laziness in pulling that word out of his pocket. There are some lines you don’t cross. While the N word has reached the point where I hope it is rarely if ever “pulled out of the back pocket”, I wish a lot of other words could join that list. Even “Douche” and “Cracker”, which I was informed were horrible insults to White males.
The Trump legacy, of saying what you want to say and to heck with the consequences, has indeed spilled over into the Liberal camp. Pete’s history, his acts and his writings are how he should be judged. While I am sure he wishes that his many good acts balance out his proclivity for writing “Cunt”, it’s a bad case of Trumpitis that keeps him from caring at all.
“I thought you knew me.”
No, I only know you via your public behavior. Your defense of the word, and use of it, is not balanced out by your photographs with family and Liberals. You are in charge of what you put out there, and your choice, to include the word “Cunt” proudly, says a lot about the kind of person you want the world to see.
*Name changed as I have high hopes he’ll change