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More on Davis

I have been out of the loop for almost a day since I posted my comments on Geoff Davis’s “that boy” remarks about Barack Obama, and as far as I can tell from the comments, both on this site and elsewhere on the internet, it looks to me like a lot of sides are shouting past each other without doing a whole lot of actual listening.

Look, I don’t think that anybody would seriously question that the use of the word “boy” by a white man to describe a black man is something that can easily be interpreted as racist–and in a great majority of cases no doubt is racist. It should certainly raise some red flags, and Geoff Davis quite rightly apologized for his remarks. I don’t deny that and I didn’t deny it in my post earlier. As I mentioned in that same post, a Republican congressman from Kentucky should have known better. He has been rightly castigated for what he said.

That said, I do believe that it’s unfair to, as a result of this incident, immediately label Davis a bigot or racist. I can’t read minds, so the best I can do is judge him by the context of his comments and the context of what little I know about the man himself. Given that Davis is not native to the south (he was born in Canada and, according to his biography, travelled around quite a bit), given that he does not appear to have a history of racially derogatory comments or associations with racist groups, given that he almost immediately apologized for his remarks and given the context in which the comments were made, I do not think that the evidence is there that Davis had any racist intent, and to date I have not seen anyone else bring any up, either.

So yeah, I think that Davis deserves the benefit of the doubt on this thing, and I think his apology should be accepted at face value.

Look, all of us, at some point in time, have said hurtful or offensive things–sometimes in the heat of anger, or sometimes just because we plain misspoke. So when people make mistakes, misspeak, say mean things or whatever, we shouldn’t immediately condemn them for all of eternity. If somebody apologizes for their mistakes, and does not have a pattern of bad behavior that has been pasted over with empty “I’m sorries”, I think we should accept that and move on with life.

Fair enough?

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About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

Comments

  1. Inkognegro says:

    It is awfully funny how much people hate being called racists.

    One would suspect that if it were that important to them, they would work harder at avoiding such an accusation.

    I dont get into the habit of calling people I dont know personally racists.

    But calling a grown Black Man boy is pretty incriminating.

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  2. DL says:

    “It is awfully funny how much people hate being called racists”

    The bigger question is how cleverly we are manipulated into not speaking our minds freely and truthfully because of this irrational politically contrived fear (pride)through the foolishness of political correctness (censorship by the left)

    Why can’t a white man speak of what is hurting the black community (liberal plantation)without the racism guilt?
    Because he has long ago lost his courage and cowardly submitted it to the power of the left.

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  3. markm says:

    “Look, I don’t think that anybody would seriously question that the use of the word “boy” by a white man to describe a black man is something that can easily be interpreted as racist—and in a great majority of cases no doubt is racist.”

    I can honestly say I have never heard that calling anybody “boy”, regardless of the color of their skin, is racist or could be considered racist. Is it a “southern thing” or am I sheltered??.

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  4. rodney dill says:

    You must be sheltered markm. I grew up in Wisconsin and don’t remember even seeing a live (meaning other than TV) black person until I was 8 or so. Yet this and many other racial slurs became known to me over the years. You could hardly watch TV or movies over the course of a year or two without picking up this information (though with the current PC show that may be less the case)

    This may not ‘definitively’ prove that Davis is racial, but it is a strong indicator in that direction. If Davis truly did not know that this statement was racial charged, though his apology seems to indicate that he knew, then he is either very ignorant or somewhat stupid.

    I was a little surprised to see all the semantic arguements that ‘boy’ can have none racial meanings, as endearment for example. In Davis’ case this was specifically in a disparaging or derogatory remark, calling attention to a concern that Obama may not be fit, and this was directed toward a grown black man. This meets all needed criteria to be considered to be a racist comment.

    Now Davis could’ve said ‘man’ or ‘person’ in this context and some of the left would still undoubtedly claim racism, but at least in that case Davis wouldn’t be providing his own sword to fall on.

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  5. sam says:

    I can honestly say I have never heard that calling anybody “boy”, regardless of the color of their skin, is racist or could be considered racist. Is it a “southern thing” or am I sheltered??.

    Google ‘boy racist slur’ and get over being sheltered.

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  6. Bithead says:

    The bigger question is how cleverly we are manipulated into not speaking our minds freely and truthfully because of this irrational politically contrived fear (pride)through the foolishness of political correctness (censorship by the left)

    Exactly so. As I said elsewhere, yesterday, to too strongly credit Davis’ comments as racism, gives far too much control to the race huxters over our very means of expression, thus worsening the situation surrounding REAL racism.

    And control is what this little storm is all about.

    Alex, Mark this date and time down; We agree. No question that the guy is a bit of a jerk, but he’s no racist, whatever the racial ambulance chasers have to say about it. And in reality that’s what’s going on here… It’s not racism, but what the responses are, though, is opportunism. More than granted the guy shouldn’t have said it. But WHY? nt because he’s a racist… he isn’t. Not even close. The problem is the opportunistic reaction to it. And I guess frankly, I’m wondering, of the two, which is the larger problem for society… that such statements are still made, however innocently, or that there’s a bunch of racial ambulance chasers out there ready to leap into the frey screaming ’racist’ wherever there’s the slightest chance of gaining any political ground for themselves in the screaming sessions afterward. We have a group of people out there… seeking legitimacy and thereby, power, by way of searching out and reacting to keywords, regardless of the context in which they’re spoken.That way, for example, lies Jeremiah Wright, Julian Bond, and Jessee Jackson, Al Sharpton, and so on.

    I’m not saying that I reject the idea that there’s genuine racism ut there… it does occasionally pop up. But how many times are we going to kneel on the altar of “I’m Offended”?

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  7. markm says:

    “I grew up in Wisconsin and don’t remember even seeing a live (meaning other than TV) black person until I was 8 or so.”

    Very similar situation on this end other than i’m in Michigan. I guess i’ve just never come across the term/meaning in person and if I saw it on TV or in a movie it didn’t click.

    “Google ‘boy racist slur’ and get over being sheltered.”

    I didn’t know I was hung up on being sheltered. Pound sand Sam.

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  8. Inkognegro says:

    “The bigger question is how cleverly we are manipulated into not speaking our minds freely and truthfully because of this irrational politically contrived fear (pride)through the foolishness of political correctness (censorship by the left)”

    Rep. Davis could have easily said whatever he said without Calling a Black man 3 years his junior boy. This isn’t in the LEAST about political correctness. This is about the fact that white men can’t go around saying whateverthehell they want about folk, which clearly annoys some of you.

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  9. […] A lot is being made of Representative Geoff Davis calling Barack Obama “that boy”.  Liberal and Democrat sites are rushing to brand him a racist, other sites are rushing to his defense.  I particularly read Outside The Beltway.  They have several posts on the comment.  Alex Knapp’s comment was just the most recent: Look, I don’t think that anybody would seriously question that the use of the word “boy” by a …. […]

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  10. Grewgills says:

    but he’s no racist, whatever the racial ambulance chasers have to say about it.

    How well do you know him?

    gives far too much control to the race huxters over our very means of expression, thus worsening the situation surrounding REAL racism.

    and we all know what you consider the REAL race problem in America.

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  11. Devon Kearney says:

    The question of whether or not Rep. Davis is himself a racist doesn’t much interest me. The question is how this remark will function in the larger political dialog – will we look back and see that it is one of many such gaffes that, taken together, prime racial fears or hostility? As far as I can tell, there are plenty of examples, since Nixon, of politicians who might not be deeply racist who nonetheless exploit racially divisive language for the good of their campaign or their party. It’s hard to imagine the Southern Strategy without it.

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  12. Bithead says:

    but he’s no racist, whatever the racial ambulance chasers have to say about it.

    How well do you know him?

    Does it strike you as even remotely plauseable that if the guy were the screaming racist you’d apparently like to cast him, that we’d not have heard the screaming and wailing from the Ambulance chasers before now?

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  13. niall says:

    Somebody needs to watch some Foghorn Leghorn cartoons and loosen the hell up. I say boy I am tired of this manufactured outrage.

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  14. Grewgills says:

    Does it strike you as even remotely plauseable that if the guy were the screaming racist you’d apparently like to cast him, that we’d not have heard the screaming and wailing from the Ambulance chasers before now?

    I don’t know whether or not he is a racist and, I suspect, neither do you. I have been clear that his apology is sufficient barring a pattern of conduct that has not materialized at this point.

    I doubt that he regularly screams his racism, if it is present, or we would have heard it before.

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  15. Inkognegro says:

    Somebody needs to watch some Foghorn Leghorn cartoons and loosen the hell up. I say boy I am tired of this manufactured outrage.

    I don’t remember Foghorn calling a black man boy.

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  16. niall says:

    Foghorn Leghorn called everyone boy or son and there wasn’t the slightest racial implication to it, which was my point, alas one apparently needing a bit of clarification. Whether boy ever had this connotation, it doesn’t have it now except to those who feel a special need to ascribe everything to a greater evil, racism even when other simpler explanations (being condescending to a supposedly great orator who of late is demonstrating a gift for getting both feet in his mouth at one go) are more than sufficient.

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