Dave Chappelle, the N word, and context

I was thinking about the Dave Chappelle schedule again this weekend and one thing that really struck me when watching it was Chappelle’s almost constant use of the n word.  Obviously the meaning and implications are very different when a black man like Chappelle uses the word, but it was interesting to realize that, in all the discussions about his Trans commentary, there’s been nary a peep about his language on race.  It seems we’re all perfectly fine listening to a black man use this “unspeakable” racial slur continually throughout his comedy act. 

Here’s the the thing, though.  It seems as if we’ve been told the word is so horrible that it should never be uttered.  Somehow, even just discussing in an entirely intellectual and abstract way if the word should ever be used is enough to get you removed from Slate.  There cannot be a moment of good faith belief that Mike Pesca meant any offense or harbored any racial animus… and yet it cost him his job.  And, presumably, because it is just so horrible to hear this word even uttered, irrespective of context.  (I do appreciate how McWhorter regularly argues that this type of supposedly anti-racist view seems to think very little of the discernment of black people).  And, yet, here’s Chappelle in a moment where he’s getting tons of media coverage for transgressing the woke consensus and nary a peep in the media about his use of the word.  It’s almost like, I don’t know… the context matters.  And, the context is that Chappelle is using the word not as a slur and not with racial animus.  Now, that context is different when a white person uses the word, but it should seem that the key point is not as a slur and not indicating any racial animus.  Now, I’m not advocating we go around saying the word in this way instead of “the n word” as has been adopted.  But when you consider that, until not long ago at all, it was considered quite okay to do so— when it was clear there was no racial animus involved— it strikes me as little more than performative wokeism to completely ignore Chappelle and argue that Mike Pesca or Donald McNeil should be out of their jobs.  And yet, here we are.

Gender and views on gender (and Donald Trump)

Really interesting Gallup report recently on views on gender (by gender).  This chartstrikes me as pretty amazing.

Basically, both women and men– but especially women– have come to recognize that women’s treatment in society needs to be better.  And, that’s obviously what’s going on because it’s pretty hard to argue that the treatment of women has actually gotten worse in the last five years.  Gallup gives most of the credit to the MeToo movement:

Over the past two decades, Americans’ satisfaction with the treatment of women in society has ranged from the current 53% low to a 72% high in 2002 and 2003. The sharpest decline in satisfaction — 10 percentage points, from 63% to 53% — occurred in 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo social movement in the U.S. that raised awareness about harassment and violence against women. Since then, satisfaction has remained steady at that level.

Women’s satisfaction dropped 15 points spanning the emergence of #MeToo, while men’s fell five points. The latest reading among women, 44%, is the lowest on record, although it is not statistically different from the 46% readings in 2018 and 2020. At the same time, men’s satisfaction with the treatment of women has remained flat at 61% to 62% since 2018.

Looking at that chart, though, there’s no measurement in 2017.  I can’t help but wonder how much of this is actually attributable to Trump’s presidency.  Alas, pretty hard to know as MeToo started in 2017, coinciding with Trump’s presidency.  But, the social scientist in me wants to find more data and try and tease this out.  Maybe, we at least can appreciate that Donald Trump helped shine light on gender inequality in society.  

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