Falling into the oppression trap

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I started this post a couple of weeks ago, and in light of today's events at the Family Research Council, I feel it appropriate to continue it today.

This has now happened twice that I have been in online discussions, when talking about oppression, some person of privilege turns around and says, "well I am being oppressed," and then goes and pulls out the dictionary definition and says, see! Definition 2 applies. 

This is intellectual dishonesty. 

Now, just to be clear. We are having a conversation about a systemic and ongoing withholding and subversion of rights for a group of people, say, for instance, some generic ethnic "race" of people who have been enslaved (let's call them Purple), periodically lynched, disenfranchised, forced into lesser accommodations, by a dominant culture in some generic Western superpower, primarily due to the power structure being held by another ethnic "race" of people (who, in fact, invented the whole concept of "race" we'll refer to them as Fuchsia). I use the term "oppression"; it should be fairly obvious that we are talking about definition 1 of this term: "the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner." 

Say, now, that the discussion involves a boycott by Purples of a business owned by a Fuchsia who has made major donations to a notorious racist, anti-Purple organizations that has been labeled a Hate Organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Say a decrease of business occurs as a result of that boycott, or at the very least, reduction of public approval of that business. 

It is intellectual dishonesty at that point to say that the business owner is also suffering from oppression, because you've decided to go look up oppression on the internet and discovered definition 4: "the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc."  That is a psychological state; and has nothing to do with the use of the term "oppression" that we have described earlier. 

In fact, choosing to use that term diminishes the discussion as well as the suffering of the people as a whole. In diminishing the suffering of the people who are receiving oppression (def 1), you are made yourself an oppressor of those people.

Sorry if that gives you oppression (def 4). See a therapist for that. I cannot help you.
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That is just classic equivocation in fact... seems like the same word but it is two different versions of the word used in a sly way to try to equalize them. Just like when someone says it's hypocritical to have a hateful attitude (disdain towards actions) for someone's hateful attitude (bigoted opinion). It holds no validity because of equivocation, yet it's almost universally argued by them in this manner, and they never seem to grasp that it's easily transparent to anybody with a working sense of logic.

I wrote about this quite recently in my blog post entitled: "Hating hate - not tolerating intolerance - why it's the right thing to do" in which I think I finished with a convincing parable involving the attitude of a teacher and a bullied child, being either tolerant of the bullying, or intolerant of the abuse.


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This page contains a single entry by Cary Bass-Deschenes published on August 15, 2012 3:44 PM.

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