I will admit I was in a bit of a muddle when this came up the other day and then tonight when the flames started flickering again I decided to figure out what was going on. I've spent the better part of the last couple of hours reading, and in some cases rereading, the relevant posts at Little Miss Attila, Protein Wisdom, Saberpoint and of course, The Other McCain. The thing is, I'm no less muddled than I was when I started out.
I enjoy reading Patterico's Pontification's so I'm in no mood to presume that Frey has any evil intent, although it is a little hard to avoid. Why is he pulling out a thirteen year old comment that Stacy made now? After this much time has lapsed the context has clearly faded making it nearly impossible for Stacy to defend himself. Frey says he isn't calling Stacy a racist and he says that he's only asking a question so what exactly are his intentions? He is clearly labeling Stacy's comment as "racist" sooooooooo?
I find the timing confusing and I find the source confusing. Frey should either explain what is motivation is for this line of attack or drop it altogether.
My phone rang at 7:40 this morning. Under normal circumstances, I would be sitting at my desk but the caller, the CFO at my place of employment, apparently forgot that I am on vacation and woke me up. (hey, why isn't he at work? never mind) Anyway, it was no use rolling over and going back to bed so I am back right where I left off last night.
I started by reading Cassandra's take over at Villainous Company. In order to understand Cassandra's point, it is necessary to know the two quotes:
“But at the same time we still see him as a black man with a white woman, and it makes a difference,” said Johnson Cooper, a 26-year-old African-American from New York City. “There’s just this preservation thing we have among one another. We like to see each other with each other.”
As Steffgen predicted, the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.
The first part of the discussion revolves whether either or both of these two statements are "racist."
Devoid of any context, both statements appear racist to me but because I know the author of the second quote I view the statement from an entirely different mindset than would someone who reads the quote in "stand alone" mode. The reader, projects his or her own context on to the statement and by extension to the author. Or vice versa. Because I believe that Stacy McCain is not a racist I conclude that his statement is not racist. Which brings us back to Cassandra:
Regardless of the race of the speaker. And regardless of whether the second speaker is "one of us" (conservative, white) or "one of them" (liberal, black). Absent a convincing explanation of how those two statements differ semantically, if you refuse to apply the same standard then I can't help suspecting you of indulging in outcome-based moral reasoning.So if we agree that we interpret statements through our own lens that brings us to the second part of the equation. Just as we pass judgement on Stacy based on our own context, so do we pass judgement on Frey for posting the comment based on our own context.
Which doesn't strike me as intellectually honest. In fact, it strikes me as exactly the same kind of tribalism we conservatives love to point out on the Left: Ooooh! there's an unforgiving standard for people we don't agree with! And a different, far more lenient standard for those on "our side"! Would this post have aroused one tenth of the outrage it generated if the author of the second quote had been Michael Moore? I doubt it, because no one in his right mind defends Michael Moore.
Frey posts the comment. Some readers of the comment conclude that the statement is racist. Those readers smear the author as a racist based on the statement. Others conclude that Frey set up the situation with the intent that it would result in the author being smeared. This is the conclusion that Donald at American Power reaches and he is being perfectly reasonable. Frey's position is that he was merely asking a question but his question doesn't lend itself to a dry academic discussion. If we agree that intent is dependent on context, the context of Frey's posting of Stacy's comment is that it comes suspiciously close to Charles Johnson's smear of Stacy. At best, Frey's timing was sloppy.
Riehl World View
Frey posts the comment. Some readers of the comment conclude that the statement is racist. Those readers smear the author as a racist based on the statement. Others conclude that Frey set up the situation with the intent that it would result in the author being smeared.
I think my point was that there doesn't seem to be any positive evidence that Stacy is racist (a point that Patrick makes himself). So in order to decide that he has accused Stacy of being a racist, you have to decide that Patrick is lying.
It seems to me that Patrick can't be held accountable for what one/more of his commenters say. My commenters disagree with me all the time - to attribute their opinions to me is Sullivanesque.
because I know the author of the second quote I view the statement from an entirely different mindset than would someone who reads the quote in "stand alone" mode. The reader, projects his or her own context on to the statement and by extension to the author.
It seems to me (maybe I've gotten it wrong - the truth is that a lot of this is just plain silly) that this projection is exactly what Jeff G. says is wrong and must not be allowed to pass unchallenged.
Which leads me to ask, "OK. So why are you doing it?"
Absent some real evidence, shouldn't we strive NOT to project our biases onto others and instead either go with the literal meaning of their words (otherwise the subjective intent we project on others allows us to willfully redefine what they say to suit our own needs), or [God forbid] give them the benefit of the doubt?
Yeah. I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen! :)
Boy, if I thought I did a sloppy job of explaining myself on the domestic violence issue a couple of days ago (and I do), I really topped myself this time.
In a perfect world there would no difference between reality and perceived reality. However, we seldom experience perfection. Therefore, we each carry with us our subjective lenses. I by no means am saying that this is desirable but I do find it, to borrow a word from Stacy's comment, "natural."
None of us is responsible for our reader's comments but generally, we know that when we say certain things we elicit certain comments. However, the operative word is "generally." We, or at least I, have had posts that were not received at all as I intended. For example,... But do you think that Alan Colmes asked Stacy about his comments knowing that his particular audience would perceive the comment, and by extenstion Stacy, in a certain way?
I am not a saying that Frey is lying. However, I do think thst the resulting blog war, which again, I find tiresome, was foreseeable.
I absolutely agree with you that we should strive to be objective and give people the benefit of the doubt.
Totally aside, I do appreciate your critism although the "Sullivanesque" comment was a bit harsh. I assure you, I by know means wish to be perceived that way.
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