Libtard

This word’s been taken up and proliferated in conservative speech lately (I picture those mucous/germ droplets spraying from the mouth of a sneezer in slo-mo in one of those cautionary TLC documentaries on germs). So let’s talk about the meaning.

Because far be it from me, a left-wing ivory tower academic, to let language just happen without some navel-gazing and whining.

So here goes. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

“Libtard” is a portmanteau (a blended word) of “liberal” and, I assume, “retard,” which seems to be correctly pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable, like “fascist” or “racist” or “homophobe.” If you zoom in and look at the actual definitions of the words (liberal: adherent to a political/moral philosophy based on the ideals of equality and freedom; retard: to slow down or delay), it’s not quite clear what’s meant here. Someone who slows down or stops to think about the equality and freedom of others?

If, however, you look at the vernacular use of the word “reee-tard,” it’s very clearly meant as an offense, meant both to suggest that the person in question has slowed-down or delayed mental processing and/or development, and to suggest that the person is therefore not as worthy or important (or perceptive) as the speaker. Anyway, it’s gross.

I should also point out the obvious: that by calling someone a “reeetard,” I am assuring everyone (including myself) that I am NOT one. It’s the very transparent aim of creating an “in-group”–by doing so, you create an out-group (that was a large part of the fascination with freak shows). An “us” means a “not-us,” which means you have someone to demonize and fight against and probably bomb “back to the stone age.”

It’s like the “libtard” speakers (and implying the word counts just as much as saying it, so Donald Trump is included here) are little kids, desperately trying to cast attention elsewhere when someone asks who got suntan lotion all over the nice couch. (OK, God, that was me at three years old, but I was trying something.)

My mother used to say that whenever you point a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself. Mom, sit down, because I’m finally about to agree with you. It reminds me of the Trumphabit (now a word in my book) of accusing someone of the very thing of which he’s guilty (look at the timing and history of his accusations, friends, most notably the accusation that Clinton or the Democrats or some other such Evil Libtard Entity rigged the election… but certainly not with Russia, don’t look at Russia). I’m not ugly, you’re ugly!

(And may I just add that if anyone’s development has been slowed down, it’s the pampered white man who holds the highest office in the country bragging that he gets more ice cream than his guests.)

My point is that, other than producing quite a bit of irony and some suspicion about your motives when you call someone a “libtard,” you are showing yourself to be an ignorant, senseless twit who has no interest in affording anyone else their humanity.

Please, please, you conboobs, talk gooder.

 

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On DisRESPECT

I have now seen three indignant online responses to articles about social protest (two about Kapernick kneeling—one from my own beloved niece—and one about a kid who refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance in school as a protest and whose teacher hit him in response), and I’ve gotten to the full-to-boiling point, which means I’m going to write something. (I was taught to use my words and not to hit people with whom I disagree).

Each of these indignant responses wails about a lack of RESPECT (every time in all caps like that, because type-shouting is certainly a clear sign of respect) on the part of the person kneeling or sitting. There’s something going around among a certain segment of Rumpers about disagreement equaling disrespect, a kind of “sit down and shut up” attitude that makes my skin crawl even as it makes me laugh.

First, I would like to respectfully ask these folks where their respect was during the previous presidency. Where is the respect in (falsely) accusing—publicly, in the press–a person of lying about where they were born and demanding to see their birth certificate as proof of citizenship? Where is the respect in interrupting a political candidate while she speaks (“Wrong!”), or in looming behind her like a ghoul during her time to speak in a debate?

Where is the respect, I ask respectfully taking a respectful tone as a result of the utmost respect, in accusing trans folks—children, even—of wanting to sexually molest people simply because they’d like to use an appropriate bathroom (especially when straight men—not queers or trans folk—are by far the most frequent sexual abusers, even of boys)? Where is the respect in denying large segments of our population their human rights? Where is the respect in bombing a women’s health clinic because they perform abortions? Where is the respect in violently separating children from their families, putting them in cages and allowing several of them to die or be severely wounded in custody? Where is the respect when you condone your own police force beating and killing men of color because… wait, why, again? I missed that part.

Respectfully submitted: where is the respect in allowing the frequent beating and murder of trans women? Where is the respect in the Resident of the United States accepting the support of white supremacist groups (and then pouting because he’s been asked to stay away from a famous Black singer’s memorial)? Where is the respect in voting into office a person of whom there is ample evidence (including his own bragging) of the sexual assault of and unbridled disdain for women? Where is the respect in supporting someone who publicly mocks a disabled reporter and then does his best to take away medical care for disabled folks like me? Where is the respect in paying people wages according to their gender, ethnicity, or sexuality, or refusing to hire them entirely, even when a law tells you that you can’t? Where is the respect in gleefully creating, backing or voting for policies which will deprive people of human rights or safety?

Oh, golly, I could go on, quite respectfully, but I won’t. I’ll simply respectfully ask: where is the respect for those of us—POC, women of all colors, disabled folks, LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants and non-citizens, the list is longer than I can probably properly reproduce—with whom you disagree, or who dare to disagree with you? For those of us whose humanity you feel so comfortable to deny, whose cakes you refuse to bake, whose children you refuse to care about, whose human rights you refuse to recognize?

I respectfully think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of “respect” and social protest. Social protest that is respectful in everyone’s eyes is not social protest. Please look at the history. Social protest is meant to disturb the social scene, to call attention and to resist. What is the point of showing respect for a system against which you are protesting because it denies your humanity? The point of social protest is to disrespect the dangerous inhumanity of a system.

Respectfully, I’d like to say that when people refuse to “show respect” during the national anthem, they are not only doing their civic duty (please RESPECT American history, since that kind of lack of RESPECT is what founded this country), but they are protesting in the most civil, RESPECTful, peaceful, quiet way possible. Sometimes fighting in other ways is certainly the right choice, especially when lives are on the line. But sometimes, one chooses to do what one can in the space one has been given: kneeling, sitting, refusing to participate, even symbolically.

That choice deserves your respect. No, wait, I’ll write it so it makes sense in online vernacular: that choice deserves your RESPECT.