Monday, June 22, 2015

Paisley tie

A couple days ago I wrote about the shooting in Charleston and the response of Melissa McEwen of Shakesville. McEwen noted the many ways that various voices were trying to say it wasn't really racism, the product of white supremacy.

That got me thinking about another of McEwen's insights. Occam's Razor is the principle that says the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. But that isn't what is happening with most of the voices commenting on the Charleston shooting. They have the "urge to exhaust every possible explanation—no matter how convoluted, remote, unlikely, or totally f***ing absurd" to avoid naming the real explanation. She names this tendency "Occam's Big Paisley Tie." She elaborates:
Around every axis of privilege/marginalization, there are marginalized people saying, "I just experienced this heinous bit of hatred because of my marginalized identity," and privileged people saying, "Hang on, now. How can you be sure that it was because of your marginalized identity, and not just a misunderstanding, or a mistake, or a misspeak, or this thing or that thing or this other thing over here, because there's surely a perfectly logical explanation for why this behavior that looks exactly like a million other bits of behavior that you and other people in this marginalized population have experienced is actually something TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Have you considered that maybe it's just that you're too sensitive?"
Well, actually, some of us marginalized people have been oppressed for so long we've gotten rather good at spotting it.

McEwen says the reason for naming this principle the Big Paisley Tie is because some of those arguments just swoop and swirl.

No comments:

Post a Comment