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04 December 2007 @ 04:40 pm
Random rantings  
So, I was driving today behind a car with advertisements for My Redneck Gifts.com. I thought "huh, okay. Weird, but whatever" until I saw the stickers in the window. Gems like "Are you Politically Correct or Historically Stupid?" and I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag and Some Things are Just Worth Fighting For.

In my experience, the stages of people's understanding about the history of the Civil War essentially go like this:

Little to no knowledge: It was about slavery.
Moderate knowledge: It was about economic disparities between the North and the South and about the question of state's rights.
Greater knowledge: It was about economic disparities between the North and the South which were caused by slavery and about the question of states' rights to legalize slavery.

Then again, with the Republican party's blatant pandering to racists ever since the Civil Rights Act, I guess there probably is a market for this kind of thing. If people want to proclaim their support for an institutionally racist country that was built on slavery and devoted to the principle that blacks were inferior to whites, it's their choice. And I guess it's nice that they do it in the open so we know who the idiots are.

So, around Halloween, softlykarou and I went to a gathering of Tangency people (one of the subforums on RPG.net). While there, she heard some guy mention that there were "seven colleges in the Ivy League and one high school." When she asked him which was the high school, he said "Penn," and then followed that with "then he went to a shitty school" when told that I'm a Penn grad. She also learned that he went to Dartmouth, because apparently he mentioned it every third sentence or so.

I'm not sure why he picked Penn, though. From US News & World Report, we're usually 4 or 5th best (and constantly beat Dartmouth), which is right in the middle of the Ivies--below Harvard, Princeton and Yale, but above the other ones that most people don't know about--and according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities we're the 15th best university in the world. It could be because we let in (as far as I know) the most people in out of all the Ivies, whereas Dartmouth lets in the least. softlykarou didn't really get any reason out of him.

looking around the web, I find a lot of intra-Ivy League rivalry. The comments on this page have some good examples of other Ivy Leaguers explaining in detail why Cornell sucks, and Cornell grads explaining in detail why they're wrong. Or the other post here about stereotypes.

Probably just human nature where people always find something to bicker over, but I wish I knew what his reasoning is.

It's snowing now. Theoretically, anyway. I got a warning of 2-4 inches by tonight, but while the sky is the color of impending snow there's nothing falling as of yet. I hope it stays that way, since I have to go teach EFL tonight.

On Sunday, softlykarou will have been married for six months. Time flies. ^_^
Current Mood: restlessrestless
Current Music: Cowboy Bebop - Real Folk Blues
jdcohen on December 5th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
They way you feel about Confederate-toting rednecks is actually much the same way I feel about Neo-Nazis; I'd rather have them out in the open, where they can be identified, than underground. Admittedly it's an extreme example. However, I had a heated conversation with a fellow leftist Jew-groupie (who was also a Canadian, which is important to know for later), who was arguing that "free speech" in the U.S. was "too free", and that there ought to be limits on obscene speech, such as hate speech. His argument was that hate speech out in the open had the potential to corrupt minds, so it should be banned from the public sphere. I was ADAMANTLY opposed to this position, because banning something does not make it disappear - it merely causes it to hide better. Additionally, it's hard to present the counter argument AGAINST bigotry when the bigotry itself is not apparent. Free speech means not only allowing hate speech, but allowing (and in this case encouraging) the counterargument to be heard IMMEDIATELY ALONGSIDE. The counterargument against hate loses some of its effect if it isn't presented with a backdrop of bigotry. Over 11 million soldiers died in WWII, and the Nazis killed an additional 5 million political dissidents, gypsies, gays, and others... but the number remembered most passionately (at least by my community) is 6 million, precisely because its backdrop is so purely racist. Anyway, so the next time you see a redneck bumper sticker, be thankful at least that you can identify the son of a bitch for what he is.

dorchadas: Iocaine Powderdorchadas on December 5th, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Free speech is the right of the other guy to tell you (generic you)his big theory about how the Jews have conspired to keep the white man out of power and your right to tell him he's an idiot for believing it. Neither exists without the other, which is something that tends to get lost in a lot of free speech debates.

Censorship means preventing the other person from saying their opinion. It's not censorship when I tell the other person they're an idiot or just don't listen to them.

Although it gets harder when you get to the question of incitement based on hate speech.
jdcohen on December 5th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
True... but incitement generally means that there is some illegal ACTION taking place, not so much that it's the speech itself. For instance, it's not illegal to call for God to "smite the gays", but it is illegal to call a gay night club and make a bomb threat.

dorchadas: desudorchadas on December 5th, 2007 05:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I meant incitement more in sense of the leader of an organization calling for nonspecific action that people should do which is then carried out by his followers.

As much as people want to claim God as a member of their organization, I doubt smiting could be legally punished, as God has no address with which he can be served with a summons. :-p
jdcohen on December 5th, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC)
The devil's in the details...

dorchadas: Death Gothdorchadas on December 5th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, that's still not an address in the legal sense.