Why the George Takei “Blackface” Dust-up Costs More Than We Think

08 Jul 2015

Why the George Takei "Blackface" Dust-up Costs More Than We Think

Actor and activist George Takei got into hot water for his reaction to Justice Clarence Thomas’ remarks following the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. Mr. Takei’s calling Justice Thomas a “Clown in black face” was disrespectful and over the top. But was his rage understandable? Here are Justice Thomas’ comments:

“[H]uman dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.”

As author and commentator Anita Finlay had written, “This implies that because no one can take your dignity from you, you should live a life enslaved, or that it is acceptable to live as a lesser being without enjoying the rights conferred upon other citizens.”

Which of these two men is right? Surprisingly, political strategist and author Shawna Vercher commented, “I was more offended that we are holding an actor to the same standard of discourse and conduct as that of a Supreme Court Justice.”

While Anita Finlay agreed that Mr. Takei was right to apologize for his frustrated remarks, she hastened to add, “Didn’t Justice Thomas’ statements sound like the words of someone living in a bubble? Theories are fine, but in the real world there is a very real cost for not having the same rights as another.”

Shawna and Anita chose to tackle this subject on Dare We Say because the incendiary nature of our discourse comes at a great cost. Without civility, how can we advance the debate on very real problems? As we saw with this incident, the cruel words became the subject and the apology became the solution, when in reality, nothing was resolved.

How can we encourage more outreach and attempts to understand the other side and less hate speech? Don’t miss a great segment! Chime in with your thoughts!


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