Achieving the suppression of the language of bigotry is straight forward, you suppress it. You make the use of the words uncomfortable and an invitation to be hassled. For example, the blog boys use the word “cunt”. The way to make them uncomfortable is to constantly call them on it when they use it. It’s simple as that. They refer to women in that way, you make that uncomfortable for them, you harass them whenever they say it. You make it not worth their wile to use the word. When they whine about your calling them on it, you just do it anyway. They pout about you ruining their fun and boy bonding, you ignore it and keep calling them on it while taking pleasure at their discomfort. Their discomfort is a sign your plan is working, I see nothing wrong with enjoying it, privately. Of course, you've got to give up using language like that yourself, you've got to have credibility.
I fully concur.
There is no liberal cause that is advanced by using bigoted and derogatory language. Nailing someone for using this kind of language does not require you to check their political credentials or determine what side they're on because it's just wrong. The difficulty will be in training yourself to think more critically about the language you encounter and to refuse to excuse it because it is aimed at a political opponent.
Some stuff is easy, like name calling. "[Name goes here] is a [epithet goes here]!" is a simple formulation that calls for critical evaluation. Calling someone a cunt, a ho, a fag, etc., is simply out of bounds. Simply starting with this would do an enormous service to the level of discourse without preventing powerful opposition.
What's harder are oblique references. What do you do with a statement like "They're just bitter knitters."? To me, this is bigoted and derogatory because of the stereotyping, the projection of intent, and the reduction of a class of people (all supporters of a candidate) to a gendered and mocked activity, but it doesn't use a "bad" word. What about a phrase like "throwing dishes" or "the claws come out"?
What about uses of language that do attempt to use bigoted words and phrases in an ironic or contestatory way? Anthony notes, "Those words and similar ones shouldn’t be tolerated no matter what comedian or pop star has used them in their act, no matter how gratifyingly transgressive they make the user feel." OK, so what about my blog tag line - "You say I'm a bitch as if that were a bad thing..." I use it to mock those who would (and do) call me a bitch. Qualities attributed to being a "bitch," being tough, getting in people's faces, fighting back against domination, are things that women are not supposed to do. Yet, it is clearly an epithet, so should I use it? Why or why not? What about my use of the tag "Media Whores"? Is calling anyone a "whore" ever acceptable?
Pressing on, what about a term that is used widely and is not aimed at anyone in particular, perhaps not even used as an epithet, but which has derogatory overtones? My current pet peeve is "bitch slap", a term linguistically paired with "pimp slap" and arising from abuse of prostitutes by pimps and johns, which was brought into the political lexicon by WKJM as "the bitch-slap theory of politics," and is now used in economics discussions by people like Paul Krugman and Ian Welsh, who used the term today in this article. Why use this particular phrase? What value does it bring except to invoke the picture of a woman being slapped around or, focusing on the slap itself, of a weak, laughable, "girly" way of doing things. Without the derogatory gendered meaning, it doesn't work.
How about agreement with the statement of others? What about Atrios and his infamous "Heh," when he quotes another person's words or links to something that is derogatory and bigoted? Does agreement or promotion deserve the same reaction as being the originator? How about stuff in the comments? Are bloggers or site proprietors to be held responsible for the language of the commenters? I say yes. What do you say?
Finally, what about non-linguistic communications? If I post an image of Anne Coulter being subjected to violence of some kind, but I don't write any objectionable words, should I be harrassed until I remove it? What about blogs that run ads that have bigoted or derogatory imagery and/or phrases?
I think Anthony is right. The only question for me is how far to take it. Commenters, share your thoughts.