So I was going to write a post about what I started calling Science Fiction’s Great Divorce a complicated and therefore long-delayed post, but, so, this happened on twitter.
“Mary Robinette Kowal @MaryRobinette · 12h12 hours ago Thank you to Sarah Hoyt, for introducing me to “Chicom,” which was an ethnic slur I didn’t know.”
And here is the screenshot, as apparently the tweet has gone down the memory hole, or at least some can’t find it (I don’t respond for the tech competency of my minions.)
Now, a word of explanation for those of us who don’t speak a foreign language, learned as an adult fluently. Those of us who do have special “head boxes” for things like swear words or ethnic slurs. This is because those words have a strong charge that we don’t FEEL because it was not “forbidden” as a kid, so we need to wall them off extra strongly. (For instance, the words d*mn and h*ll are not swear words in Portuguese and I have to watch myself not to use them in casual conversation.)
So when I read the above I went to box marked slurs and the only thing I could figure was that I MIGHT on FB have said something intemperate about the Chicago con com. I have no idea why I would, since they’ve never done me any harm, but in the heated post sad display at the Hugos someone might have said something and I might have blasted. (Am Latin. Have temper.)
So I posted this:
Dear Ms. Mary Three Names, what in HELL are you talking about? How could I introduce you to a word whose meaning I don’t KNOW, slur or not? Perhaps you should take a powder and swoon already. Mary Three Names: “Mary Robinette Kowal @MaryRobinette · 12h12 hours ago Thank you to Sarah Hoyt, for introducing me to “Chicom,” which was an ethnic slur I didn’t know.”
Which in village terms is the equivalent of jumping to the middle of the street hitting my left hand with the back of the right. (A gesture for which mom would spank heck out of me, so I presume it’s simulated copulation? No one ever told me.)
Then people in comments mentioned I’d used it on my post on burning down the hugos, and I realized that dumb bunny (Sorry, but all presumption of intelligent but misinformed just went out the window) thought that Chicom — as in Chinese communist, a common term to distinguish them from the RUSSIAN COMMUNISTS in Europe (often referred to as the Sovs when I was young) was suddenly a “racist slur.”
I added this to my post, so it was clear the multiply Hugo-nominated and I think three time Hugo Winner Mary wasn’t a liar, merely addled:
UPDATE: My attention has been called to the fact that I used the word in a post. I used it exactly as “Chinese Communist” — when I read it was an ethnic slur, mind went blank as I don’t know the word as an “ethnic slur.” (Yes I have compartments for words in my head. Probably the result of being ESL. Never mind.)
And yep, when I’m hit with something like this, I’ll come up blank, just like I’ll blank out if I’m talking to mom on the phone in Portuguese and Marshall speaks to me in English, which happened just yesterday. I have to ask mom to hold, cover the phone and ask Marsh to repeat, because until I change “the tape in my head” (yep, dating myself) I don’t understand English. My husband got used to what he calls “changing tapes” lag when I’m in Portugal and surrounded by family gabbing in Portuguese. He addresses me, or just calls my name, then waits till I “change tapes.” Then repeats.
BUT anyway, it highly amuses me that I’m now racist for referring to Chinese communists.
I guess it’s the narrative now. I MUST be racist, because otherwise they would have no reason to hate my attempt at disrupting their just-so club. To put this in perspective, this is akin to an all-white club rejecting a Latin member and accusing them of being racist against Chinese. VERY good. Slow clap. One doesn’t know whether to admire them for their inventiveness or their shamelessness.
One does know that one stands ready to expose every one of their attempts to take things out of context and be insane. Because one is JUST that helpful. Also because I learned my art of argument in the village, watching the fishwives. (Smacks left hand with back of right.) So, (puts hands on hips) be aware. One thing my grandma taught me is that the more one bows, the more one exposes one’s *ss, so I’m not bowing and not submitting to your idiotic slurs. One advises you to stop now, if you know what’s good for you. Or do carry on. It will be good for a laugh.
AND if they’re as funny as this, they’ll be pure comedy gold.
Yes, guys, I’m racist because I oppose communism. Sing it with me “I am racist against an ideology that’s not an inborn characteristic, but the characteristic of those choosing to throw their lot in with a movement that, to date, has killed 100 million people and stands ready to continue its work.”
Yes, Mary Three Names. I’m totes racist against communists. The miasma of the yawning graves filled by communism makes me gag too hard to tolerate them. I’m racist against fascists too. And any others who would keep humanity in chains.
It’s just the sort of b*tch I am. You got me.