If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck–duck!
The F Word
via feminist blogs
by Jeff Fecke on 10/28/10
There are epithets that decent people shy away from using. One obvious example is the use of racist, ethnic, or gender-based slurs. If you’re a decent human being, you don’t use them, because one uses them to hurt, to malign, to defame.
But it is not just slurs on one’s person that we avoid. We also avoid slurs on one’s political philosophy. Describing someone as a Nazi, for example, is rightly seen as beyond the pale. It says a person is a believer in an ideology that led to the slaughter of six million innocent people, and ignited a global war that killed millions more. Unless a person actually is a follower of Hitler’s philosophy, describing them as a Nazi is not only inaccurate, it’s pejorative. And the same is true of other discredited, vile, or simply discarded epithets, like communist1, or Maoist, or totalitarian; unless a person actually is a communist, Maoist, or totalitarian, describing them as such is simply rude, and is designed to create far more heat than light.
But sometimes, the shoe fits. There are still Nazis, after all. There are still segregationists. Still anti-Semites. Still communists. Some of these people wear their positions proudly, like the perky neo-Nazi with the swastika tattoo on her head who frequents my local convenience store.2 Most, however, hold their positions without admitting to the label that defines them – as the label itself describes a belief system that has been rejected by everyone.