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The craft of insult

I was lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio to­day, and there were a group of "in­tel­lec­tu­al­s" dis­cussing why on a foot­ball match, some of the most com­mon in­sults in­volve:

  1. Doubt­ing the oth­­er fans ex­­clu­­sive ded­i­­ca­­tion to het­­ero­­sex­u­al­i­­ty

  2. Declar­ing that the oth­­er fans come from one of our fine neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

Well, they went around the sub­jec­t, and brought for­ward stuff like rit­u­al ahem of pris­on­ers of war in an­cient eras, and xeno­pho­bi­a, and ho­mo­pho­bi­a, and racis­m, and in­se­cu­ri­ty about their own sex­u­al in­cli­na­tion­s, and how the anon­im­i­ty of the mass changes be­haviour, and many, many, many oth­er things.

Well, of course, they are stupid mo­rons who should­n't be al­lowed to breath near a mi­crop­o­hone, un­less they are read­ing stuff writ­ten by some­one who is ac­tu­al­ly think­ing.

Those in­sults are used be­cause they work in their in­tend­ed con­tex­t.

What you call some­one else, as­sum­ing you are will­ing to say any­thing does­n't de­pend on the in­sul­ter. It de­pends on the in­sult­ed.

If I think some­one will think of­fense of be­ing called a wood­en wind in­stru­men­t, or a bunch of twigs, and I rel­ly in­tend to hurt him, well, that in­sult will work (no, I don't usu­al­ly do this).

If I think the oth­er guy is a racist and will be dead­ly of­fend­ed by sug­gest­ing his an­ces­tors sailed fom Nor­way, well, call­ing him a Norse­man would be ef­fec­tive.

Since the mem­bers of a holi­gan band are pret­ty much like the mem­bers of the oth­er, this means they don't ac­tu­al­ly be­lieve the oth­er guy is gay, or Ice­landic, or whathavey­ou, but just that they ex­pect the oth­er guy to get an­gry, so a nice fight with cy­cle chains can take place (no, I don't do those things).

In fac­t, it does­n't even mean that they would get very of­fend­ed, it's just a bunch of code­word­s: "they called us tree-­for­ni­ca­tors (no, that's not a re­al in­sult), let's go bash their faces". It's a rit­u­al.

How can five peo­ple bab­bling for two hours not see those ob­vi­ous points, I have no idea.

If you want to see if so­ci­ety evolves about race or sex, it's not a mat­ter of noone call­ing the oth­ers by racist or sex­ist word­s, it's about those words not hurt­ing.

And that, dear read­er, is why po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness does­n't work worth a damn.

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