We all know this hackneyed response that a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, a xenophobe, etc. offer the moment you accuse them of racism, bigotry, and homophobia.
Sparky at Womanist Musings published a brilliant post about people who evoke “absent friends” to excuse their own bigotry. Here is a comment I left to that post:
I can’t tell you how many times I tried to stop people from referring to Ukrainians with a certain offensive term only to have the offender tell me, “Oh, I know someone who is Ukrainian and she is perfectly fine with me calling her that.”
The most egregious instance of this was when the Ukrainian who was “perfectly fine” with being referred to with this term turned out to be the offender’s cleaning woman. I wonder how empowered the cleaning woman was to consent freely to being called that way.
What I really don’t understand is why it is so difficult for some people to respect the wishes of a member of a certain ethnic group not to use certain terminology when referring to said ethnic group.
“But I don’t get it!” such people often whine. “What’s wrong with this particular word?”
What’s wrong with it, you insensitive and rude jerk, is that it offends me. Oh, you don’t like being called a jerk? That’s weird. What’s so wrong about this particular word?