Random Thoughts – Discrimination

The investigation into a lot of societal questions comes down to base rates. If a black guy is called a fucking n***r, in many cases this undoubtedly comes down to racism. If he and other black persons are often insulted in such fashion one can probably make a reasonable case for a racist society.

On the other hand I was called a fucking bastard just last week for no reason. Would that person have availed himself to a racist insult if I’d been a darker shade of pale? Quite possibly. Insults are meant to hurt and racism fits that bill.

So a better measure for the prevalence of racism in a society would probably be whether minorities are more often insulted than people of the majority all else equal and not so much how those insults are couched. People who hate everybody equally are not racist.

I wonder whether displays of homophobia, especially among adolescents, aren’t often better explained by status games than, well, actual homophobia. If gays are lower status, implying somebody is gay, or denying to be gay is not motivated by homophobia. It is merely a try to lower somebodies status or to defend against such an attack.

Of course, one could say that gays being lower status is due to homophobia. But that is not a foregone conclusion. There are systematic trait differences between gays and heteros, so gays might be lower status because they are more feminine. Or they are lower status because they miss out on one key aspect of intra-male competition. In that case a teenager calling somebody gay, is just saying „you don’t compete for females!“. And the forceful denial is just „but I do, I do“ bangs chest.

The point of these speculations is not to explain away suffering caused by hurtful remarks or actual discrimination. But in a way I do discount lived experience. Namely, when it is invoked in lieu of actual solid evidence for societal problems.

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