The problem I have with the concept of rudeness is that it is frequently used by the privileged to stifle the speech of the marginalized. For example, we can’t talk about racism, much less call someone out as saying/doing something racist, because it’s rude. Never mind whether the accusation of racism may be true….
Never mind that racism is worse than mere rudeness.
The idea of “uncouth speech” is also heavily laden with the baggage of imperialism. I can’t freely speak in the language of my parents because not speaking the vernacular is considered rude. Certain languages were tagged by Europeans as guttural noise, as gobbledygook, not fit for the transmission of more refined, high-minded ideas. (The damage wrought to the psyche of colonized people by internalizing this colonial mentality cannot be overstated, but the discussion of anticolonialism is often also considered rude….)
So you might say I’m kind of sensitive to this issue. :D
I could say the same about other mismatches of privilege vs. marginalization. Accusations of misogyny get tagged as rude more than actual misogyny. Accusations of homophobia get labeled as rude more than actual homophobia.
The ability to call something rude is itself an act of privilege. I’m not saying people shouldn’t do it, but a lot of times it papers over the actual offense. It’s exactly parallel to how calling someone a goddamn liar gets more villified than the actual lies.
(originally posted on FriendFeed)