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In Defense of Prejudice

In the Defense of Prejudice article by J. Rauch, the author proposes that the way to fight off prejudice is not by commonly accepted means of forbidding offensive and derogatory words and statements. In a way, the article talks about the difference of pluralism and purism, the former tolerating expressions that can be thought of as prejudiced while the other finds all kinds of prejudice impermissible. Pluralism in the article is described as something that takes bullets in stride for the greater good of progress.

Without the pain of succumbing to racism, sexual prejudice and the like, the path to progress in intellectual freedom is blocked off. Pluralism has its strength in not needing to know which things are prejudices and which are facts. In reality, it is very hard to determine one against the other. One’s views and the context in which contested words are used may indicate whether a remark is prejudiced or a simple telling of the truth. Because of this difficulty, pluralism flourishes in that it takes all sides and treats them equally as being open to criticism.

In this way, everything is exposed to the same kind of open minded thinking instead of being labeled as prejudiced without much confirmation. The author continues on to saying that pluralism creates open discussion and takes away the trap of falling to the prejudice of the powerful. Whenever we try to take away the things that are deemed prejudiced, we are also unknowingly keeping only those prejudices which are acceptable to those in power because it is them that tells the masses which are acceptable and which are offensive.

Purism, on the other hand, acts exactly this way. Instead of being open to all prejudices and letting the critical thinking of the people deal away with it, it tries to eliminate prejudice by purging all acts of bias. It starts with words. A lot of times, people’s first encounters with prejudice are through words that targets a specific minority. Words such as “nigger” for example, are highly thought of as offensive. In purism, these are eliminated by banning them. The article mentions education as one of the institutions to ban out such words and actions.

However, the article continues on to saying how these are highly ineffective. Words can be banned, but as long as the though is there, new derogatory words will be created. Sexism and racism does not end when the words used in their arsenal is banned because new weapons for hurting are created more easily. Therefore, there is really no use to ending prejudice this way because the more we eliminate, more ways of showing prejudice is created. In short, it does not take away the root cause of the problem.

Although these words of prejudice have undeniable effects on both the parties being offended and those using them to offend, one must remember that these words are not acts of violence in the league of torture and murder. And by treating them as such, and by actively eradicating these words in the good name of anti-prejudice, we are not solving anything. We are merely putting a band-aid solution to the problem of prejudice and bias. More so, we are selling out our freedom of expression by shying away from our thoughts and escaping from our own prejudices. Instead, we must do away with this kind of reasoning and deal with the problem openly.

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