Friday, August 02, 2013

Not Sure It's Racism

An NFL player is being criticised for saying nigger to a black security guard at a concert while drunk.  The discussion keeps going down a predictable path, of whether he is "just a jerk who got drunk" or is a racist.  People seem to be very huffy about showing that they take this seriously by insisting he is a racist.

I know that being a racist is considered the worst thing you can be in modern America, and any backing away from that looks like one is excusing evil speech.  But I think some things are worse than being a racist, and Cooper might actually be one of those worse things, at least when drunk and thwarted.

When someone calmly and without provocation makes insulting remarks about a group, we can fairly accuse that person of prejudice.  I don't run across too many people who do that, partly because there are not that many people who thoroughly dislike entire groups, but more likely, because reasonably savvy people don't say those things out loud unless they are quite certain they are among those who agree.

But I happen to know quite a bit about people who get angry and make insulting remarks, because I work with personality disorders and criminal types all the time. When they don't get prescribed the drugs they want or are told to keep their voice down they rapidly try to get intimidating, and they throw out whatever they think will work.  They will call men faggots, or women c*nts, or any foreign-looking person a f*cking Asian or any of a dozen other things that come to mind when looking at you and trying to figure out your weakness.  At this point in my life, they usually try to see if being called old or fat will work on me.

It would be unusual for any person to be about equally prejudiced against such a wide variety of other humans.  Much more likely is that the person is an entitled narcissist who doesn't have much regard for anyone but himself.  They don't insult because they are racist sexist homophobes, they insult instrumentally, because they think it will hurt you and give them an advantage. If you looked different, they would try a different insult.

That's not an either-or situation where you either are self-centered or not, but a continuum where we all have a spot.  Professional athletes include a lot of pampered, entitled individuals, and big intimidating-looking people are sometimes bullies - because it works.

There might have been a day when a white racist might play football and not have to run into too many black people, but that hasn't been true since Sam Cunningham torched Alabama.  If you really hated black people, you would find some other sport, some other line of work, than playing college and then professional football.  It's more likely that Cooper is not "just" a jerk, but some deeper pathology of which "jerk" is the lite version.

You don't get a pass for being drunk, BTW - maybe, maybe if it's your first time and you are horrified at who you become under the influence.  Because if you were really horrified, you would simply not drink again, being ashamed of what you become and fearing you would hurt others and shame yourself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I know that being a racist is considered the worst thing you can be in modern America, and any backing away from that looks like one is excusing evil speech."

There is no outrage over Black anti-semitism. People are mainly upset about racism towards Black people. I think there are two reasons for that: one, that racism towards Black people is like kicking someone who is already lying down, and two, racism towards Black people can lead to riots - and that is just fear masquerading as outrage.

That latter reason is really problematic. Like when White people think throwing Zimmerman in jail is a good way to appease Black anger.