October 04, 2005

I'll Give You a Topic...

Can someone (like say an older white Christian male) who uses the phrase "Jew him down" still be considered a generally decent person? Or should we assume he knows darn well that what he's saying is anti-Semitic?


Posted by Jennifer at October 4, 2005 11:48 AM | TrackBack


It depends. If this person seriously believes the stereotype, then yeah, mark one more down for the prick team. But if it's in publicly understood humor, a la 'The Office' or something in the style that Jeff Goldstein would approach (sarcasm, cynicism) then it's not bad because these people aren't promoting the stereotype, but actually hanging the stereotype out to be exactly what it is = an illogical outward manifestation of some kind of internal inadequacy or fear.

So I'd say the speaker's intent defines the remark mostly, but also the context in that those listening understand that the stereotype is communicated either in fact or in farce. Even as someone who enjoys caustic humor, you'll notice I don't play stereotypes out on the blog that I can't be a victim of. It seems that the only people who can get away with it are those who are the victim of the stereotype(s); as it's pretty much the only environment where it's understood that the farce is being conveyed. But I think even this is changing as some stereotypes become recognized by the public at large.

Posted by: shank at October 4, 2005 01:04 PM

Holy shit, shank.

That was exceptionally lucid.

Posted by: Paul at October 4, 2005 01:14 PM

Liquid Paper is one of those deep-thinking, mellow buzzes; unlike Rubber Cement. Man, I huffed that shit after a cup of coffee one morning, and I was lit.

Posted by: shank at October 4, 2005 01:30 PM

Unless one has been living in a cave for the past thirty years, they know very well that stereotype is inappropriate. Some things are just not acceptable to say in polite society.

Posted by: Rev. Mike at October 4, 2005 02:38 PM

I agree Rev., it's either they are unwilling to change or the people they talk to day in and day out have also been stuck in a cave for the past thirty years. Or perhaps stuck in a small town in a prairie province for the past century.

Posted by: Oorgo at October 4, 2005 06:52 PM

My mom (a 47 year old, white lady) let that lovely saying out during Thanksgiving dinner last year which just happened to be the first family event with my new in-laws! I was mortified. I believe that my mother is a good, decent person but just doesn't think about/know exactly what she is saying at times.

Another example...once she used the word dyke to describe a lesbian. I almost fell over in shock. I had to EXPLAIN to her that that's not exactly an "endearing" term and told her to NEVER use it again. Yikes!

Posted by: holly_44109 at October 4, 2005 08:49 PM

I'm a 45 year old white female, and am generally decent. I work hard, pay my taxes,give to charity, etc, etc. And I use the term. I support Israel more than most PC clowns who self-righteously condemn people who use the term. It's a colloquialism and not meant to be anti-semitic. Most people with common sense don't take it as anti-semitic. They take it for what it is. It does not promote a stereotype. Would you take it differently if it were said by an older Chinese male? Yes, you would. My husband can "get away" with so much more than this white woman. Why is that? Why does the color of our skin "color" what we say? Or how it is received. So, in conclusion, climb down off your PC high horse and get real. Question: is global warming the cause of such thin skin?

Posted by: Pat at October 5, 2005 12:03 AM

I have to agree with Shank. If it is used with a sense of irony, in humor, then it could be funny but in an inappropriate way. If it is used to mean, with no humor attached, "got him to lower the price" or some such sentiment then it something that no decent person would say.

Though maybe he is unaware that it is indecent and would change if he knew...

Posted by: Daniel at October 5, 2005 06:52 AM

Pat--I appreciate your honesty in answering the question. I put it out there because I am curious about *all* the answers. Of course, your abusive language makes it a little harder to look at your answer impartially.

I do have a question--do you use the phrase when you're in the presence of people who are Jewish, or do you make sure only to use it when people you know to be non-Jews are around? If you use it in front of Jewish people, do you mind that it might hurt their feelings? If you don't use it in front of Jewish people, don't you think that is an admittance that the phrase is hurtful and wrong?

Posted by: Jennifer at October 5, 2005 09:14 AM

Pat's language wasn't abusive, unless you edited it Jen? What does "Jew him down" mean? I am feeling it is a Yank phrase particular of the South and oft spoke by bigots, KKK members and baptists. As a Brit I have not encountered it before.

Posted by: Monjo at October 5, 2005 10:04 AM

I find that older people, especially older men, like to get a rise out of the younger, more-PC or socially aware crowd by using slang that was common in their time, even if they know that it's not kosher. My grandfathers both used to drop bombs like that around the family, just for poops and giggles. I don't know how old your culprit is, Jen, but it could be that he's just having a laugh at the expense of the PC crowd.

Posted by: sis at October 5, 2005 11:40 PM

In my mind there is a difference between being racially insensitive and PC, according to the dictionary definition I'm wrong, but screw the dictionary. If I was saying something like "n*gger babies" when ordering black licorice baby candy from a black candy vendor I would expect to get smacked down no matter what age I am.

Posted by: Oorgo at October 6, 2005 10:39 AM

They make licorice shaped like babies in Canada? You guys eat candy babies. Sick bastards! Sick fucking flap-top headed, beady-eyed, greatwhitenorth freaks!!

There is no slur for a Canadian is there? How did you guys get away with that?

Posted by: shank at October 6, 2005 12:00 PM

Is the slur for Canadian "beaver lover"?

Posted by: Oorgo at October 6, 2005 03:17 PM

You wish. Really though, how the hell did the world let Canadians get away without a slur?

Oh shit. You know, if you don't have a slur that means you don't do anything different/strange/weird. In some ways, that makes Canada...the definition of normal. Wow.

Posted by: shank at October 6, 2005 05:12 PM

Jennifer asked a great question of Pat. Would Pat use it front of a Jew.

I might use the phrase in front of my Jewish friends because I know that they'd know that I was just being silly.

In front of a Jewish stranger? No. They don't know me and I don't know them and so I'd avoid a potential misunderstanding and, out of a common sense idea of something we call decorum, would not use it.

It's all in the context. Is it in fun or in rote stereotypical blindness. The listener matters as much -- ususally more -- than the speaker. It's what we call communication; know your own company.

Yikes I gotta pee...

Posted by: Tuning Spork at October 8, 2005 06:02 PM

I think that most people don't see that phrase for what it is - until you see it in writing you would never know that it was a negatory comment about Jews. My question is why are you all so PC when it comes to Jews but when it's Christians - you don't seem to care at all?

Posted by: Lauri at October 13, 2005 11:06 AM