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.