The False Context Of Bigotry

Apparently, crying out that bigoted statements were "taken out of context" is a pretty typical excuse these days: "Rush Limbaugh Hates Mexicans (But in a Funny Way)!"

Rush is upset that the Obama camp is portraying him as being a bigot.

By quoting a bigoted statement he's made.

The Obama campaign is running new Spanish language ads in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico which quote Limbaugh as using the phrase "stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and telling Mexicans to "shut your mouth, or get out" of America.

In his WSJ piece Limbaugh doesn't deny making the statements. His issue is that the statements are taken out of context.


What is it with bigots that makes them think there is a context for bigotry? When much was made of that paragon of virtue Bill Bennett's assertion "if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country,"

Bill and his supporters claimed that statement was taken out of context.

No one who wasn't wearing a white hood has ever fully explained to me what the context is for positing the extermination of black children to lower the crime rate.

And as with Trent Lott extolling the virtues of Strom Thurmond, or George Allen and his Macaca moment, or Lynn Westmoreland tossing aside euphemisms in favor of simply getting to it and calling Barack Obama "uppity," there is seemingly always some unspoken but acceptable frame of reference for race baiters to bait race.

So when Limbaugh speaks of "stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and tells them to "shut your mouth, or get out" what's missed by the chattering classes is that these are actually -- according to Rush -- "humorous monologue(s)" or "parody."

Yeah. You know, the way Amos and Andy was penetrating social satire.

My problem with Rush is not that he's a bigot. Bigots are actually funny to me in the way that people who still wear parachute pants give me a chuckle. What bothers me about Rush's ilk is that they don't actually have the stones to be real racists or women haters or anti- Semites. Though they irresponsibly fan the flames of hatred, they don't own the strength of their convictions. When they are called on their stuff they run back to their bunker, which is heavily fortified for a reason, crying "but it was only a joke!"

Like when Rush joked that Obama was a "haf-rican," or when he jested that Obama was a "magical negro."

Oh, the hilarity.

Be a man, Rush. Be a hateful man, but be a man instead of a pasty- lookin' crackhead drug addict whose wives keep ditching him 'cause he's impotent.

That last bit was just satire, of course, so please don't take it out of context.

Sound like anyone familiar? The joke's on you, paleo-douchebags. Enjoy your relegation to the dustbin of history.

Share this

Context does matter

Context does matter. Meanings can be completely reversed in context. For example, if I someone quotes me, word for word, as saying,

"I think Nazis are wonderful people and I wish they had succeeded",

that quote can be absolutely correct (i.e. word for word) and yet entirely reverse my meaning, a fuller quote, with context, might be something like,

"I was visiting people in a mental hospital. There was one man who said that I think Nazis are wonderful people and I wish they had succeeded. Nothing I said to him could shake him of this belief. The doctors told me he said the same thing to them."

Meaning is completely changed in context.

Significantly, the text that you quote utterly fails to consider the actual context of Limbaugh's remarks. Many smart bloggers have already pointed out that, in context, the quotes are hardly damning. The main difference between those other bloggers and the blogger you quote is that they actually examined the context. That they came to a different conclusion from him is merely a side-effect of that primary difference.

Ann Althouse has some good links on this.

A fair point. After reading

A fair point. After reading the WSJ op-ed, I realize I was too quick to judge Limbaugh. That sort of parody is still disturbing, but not quite as bad as originally implied.

It's not just a matter of

It's not just a matter of judging Limbaugh - you approvingly quote a passage which argues that context doesn't matter. Even the spectre of bigotry impairs your judgment.

The point I took from the

The point I took from the article is that "taken out of context" or "it was just a joke" are typical (false) excuses given in defense of bigotry. Quite frequently, additional context doesn't change the meaning, and a mean-spirited joke is still bigotry.


Someone say my name?