Is it racist if no one objects?

This was a discussion I found myself in recently:

Say a group of like-minded folk are sitting around, and one of them starts to spout off with what in another group would be considered racist, hateful speech (you pick a target for an example; I simply haven’t the heart).

(And yes, I realize this is unseemingly vague as an example, but it’s the end of the week and bear with me.)

Because folks are like-minded in this group — relatively speaking, that is — no one says boo, and the racist/hateful moment passes, and everyone moves on to the rest of their day.

Consider this a twist on the old “if a tree falls in the wilderness” question: If no one objected, was the speech still wrong?

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9 Comments

  1. Yes. It’s still racist. It’s still wrong.

    The consequences of calling it out can range from awkward and uncomfortable to downright dangerous, depending on which “like-minded group” one happens to be caught up with at the time.

    But it’s still racist. It’s still wrong.

  2. Yes, I would say it’s wrong regardless of the audience or if there is no audience at all. Are you wondering if it’s wrong to not speak up if you’re the listener?

  3. So tell us why you asked? I doubt if anyone’s going to say “yes it’s okay.” It might be okay with the group, but perhaps the group is racist / hateful in general.

    1. True, but the conversation went off into a discussion (I was not in a like-minded group) as to whether, if everyone agrees, then that kind of speech is OK. I said no. It reinforces stupidity. I said that, according to my hardtack theology, even thinking that kind of thing is the same as saying it.

      1. Hmm. Kind of like lusting in your heart is a sin? What if, upon “thinking that kind of thing,” one were to stop and think to one’s self “no, wait, that’s wrong and you know it.”

  4. If they are truly all like-minded than this would just reinforce their like-mindedness and I wouldn’t expect anyone to say boo in the first place. I imagine the unity at a klan rally is pretty impressive but that obviously doesn’t make it right. It’s kind of like someone pointing to Jonestown and saying, “Hey, 900 people can’t be wrong”.

    Extreme, I know. However, I spent plenty of time in like-minded/silently complicit rooms where some stupid comment hung in the air until one of my cousins or I pointed out that the speaker was a pig. The speaker was usually one of the uncles and I believe we used to call the event “Thanksgiving”. Good times, those.

    1. Wow. Did the crockery and flatware start flying???? Or did the uncles say “y’know, little cricket, you’re right, and I’ll never be guilty of saying such a thing again?

      1. What followed mostly were a lot of empty threats and indigestion then long walks with the cousins to “chill”. On the plus side, it all led to the post adolescent tradition of Thankgivings that are thankful and giving and mellow.

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