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Snarky, not obnoxious, please[edit]

  • Affirmative action - Like it or not, this just means racism. In some places, it is also referred to as "positive discrimination", which doesn't hide the racist connotations as well as "affirmative action" does. Although since the election of Barack Obama and the coining of "Affirmative Action President", this phrase may have changed course from a left-wing code word to a right-wing snarl word used to denigrate real achievements.

Okay, I'm not comfortable with the above entry, especially as it misrepresents the original aim of affirmative action. Is there a way to rewrite it in a less confrontational and loaded manner? EVDebs (talk) 23:24, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

Seems fine to me, you said it was "flamebait" in your edit summery, but I don't see any "flaming" on this talk page in the 11 months it has been there. --Onion <talk> 00:03, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
That's only because nobody bit. Doesn't mean it wasn't intended as a troll. EVDebs (talk) 00:05, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
So you think board of trustees member Armondikov was trolling? --Onion <talk> 00:16, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Yes, if you define "trolling" as "posting an opinion I, personally, disagree with", which many do. It looks fine to me, at any rate. Theemperor
The thing posted above barely makes sense, let alone provides a good example of a "code word". I think we should pare down the examples to a few very clear ones (like "family values"). ħumanUser talk:Human 00:46, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Human and Eugene - this is flamebait, or at the very least needless prevarication. Blue Talk 02:14, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

Let me clarify -- it's flamebait because of the (frequently misunderstood) nature of what AA is supposed to do. The semantics involved are fairly complex but work out to something like "Yes, you are qualified, but so is that person, and that person has fewer opportunities than you do". Calling it inherently racist is somewhat misleading, as "racism" tends to imply some level of malice or hatred. (In other words, it's not what the entry says that's the problem; it's what it doesn't say.) EVDebs (talk) 01:21, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

Affirmative action is racial discrimination. Although it is perhaps performed with good intentions, one is always hearing complaints about how someone or other did something that was well-intentioned but racist. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:31, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm actually not fond of "choice", "informed decision", or "open mind", simply because they are usually not used as code words (frequently even in a political context). Co-opting the positive connotations of a common phrase is not really using a "code word". Especially in the case of the label "pro-choice", where most everyone knows pretty well what it means.
As for affirmative action, it's clearly not just racism in the sense that not all affirmative action is even about race (although that seems to be the arena in which it always gets discussed). My understanding of it is as being analogous to compensating for a disability; setting aside resources earmarked for disabled people is discriminatory against the healthy, but the premise is that it's providing a service which only certain people really need to take advantage of. I think the real questions are a) whether quota systems really make sense as a way of combating racism, and b) whether the type and scope of the problem match the type and scope of proposed solutions. But it's far from clear to me that the only time a policy is allowed to acknowledge the social phenomenon of race is to point at it and demand "ignore this." --Quantheory (talk) 05:10, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
"Pro-choice" and "pro-life" are both code words, no matter that many people now know the code. "Open mind" is also a code word, although I am inclined to agree about "informed decision."
Affirmative action is just another variant of the old Red bunk about giving the historical "underclass" privileges and watching the distinction melt away. We see how that has worked out. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:19, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Meh, I guess I agree about "pro-choice" in general, but "choice" by itself seems a bit vague. And if we keep "open mind", we could at least use a better example. I mean, people from virtually every group use that one, and it's not entirely fallacious (insofar as it appeals to the opponent to reject confirmation bias), although I do agree that it's a crock of shit in most contexts. But in order to be a "code word", doesn't it have to have particular groups that use it in an insider/outsider distinction?
Also, "Communism proposed something like this, communism is bad, therefore this is bad." is a stupid argument (specifically, association fallacy). Can you rephrase your objection in the form of something that isn't easily confused with this stupid argument? --Quantheory (talk) 05:32, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
The communism argument was that affirmative action is directly sourced from a particular Marxist idea that has seen a limited amount of success. Right and wrong did not enter into it. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:41, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

So what are we going to do here? Ignoring the left bashers, temporarily? ħumanUser talk:Human 06:23, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

I object to the mass reversion of my edits, some of which were made in accordance with the current consensus here. In my additions, I took particular pains not to mention the political views of the people using the buzzwords in question, who are not exclusively left-wing, not that this is actually relevant to the page content. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 06:43, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Maybe you'd best back off and learn to understand the complexities here instead of inserting even more aggressively flamebaitish content into the article. You've shown a pattern of taking complex issues and going at them with an axeblade. Ramping up the confrontational tone in a touchy article does not make you look good. EVDebs (talk) 07:42, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Excuse me, but it is our mission to be "confrontational" where bullshit is concerned. When one has to be prompted before he actually addresses the issue at hand, he is not using the best tactic of disputation. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:13, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Um, yes, this is true. However, we are not in agreement whether this qualifies as bullshit or not. EVDebs (talk) 05:41, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
That is irrelevant, as you were objecting to my edits' tone rather than their content. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:49, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Actually, no. I am objecting to both tone and content. The fundamental issue here is what constitutes racism when dealing with issues like this, and it's clear we can't agree on that point. EVDebs (talk) 07:58, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Unless I am missing something in your post above, you only started objecting to the content later in subsequent posts. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:57, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
"argumentum ad holorim"? You waited to late to argue for your argument to be valid? ħumanUser talk:Human 03:01, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
My complaint was that he only reluctantly started addressing the actual issue. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:04, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
I don't see anything particularly wrong with ListnerX's edits, and certainly nothing 'flamebaitish'. A subject such as this will always highlight differences of opinion, but surely we can do better than to edit war and unilaterally revert? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 07:52, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with taking politically slanted definitions and making them even more slanted? Not to mention the definition of "inclusiveness", which is just a flat-out lie (and no, I'm not going to argue over the details, except that as written it's just the standard paranoid right-wing straw definition). Also, I'm not sure "affirmative action qualifies as a codeword to begin with -- although we can't seem to agree on a definition, it is definitely a thing unto itself, not a stand-in for something else. I'm taking both out. EVDebs (talk) 13:08, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Honestly, I like the original definition above. It's discrimination on grounds of race. This is the definition of racism. No matter how justified or covered up, this is what it is. End of. Now get over your collective selves. Scarlet A.pngsshole 15:09, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
The definition of racism used in our article on the subject is a form of bias, in which a particular "race" or "races" of people are considered to be inferior (or superior) for one reason or another. That this is what affirmative actions represents is not self-evident or uncontroversial. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:33, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I think another point worth bringing up is that "affirmative action" is not actually a code word -- it's the actual name of the concept, even if many people don't like the term or what it stands for. "Underclass-preferential hiring" would be a more accurately descriptive term, but that's not the term people use. Can an established term really be code for itself? EVDebs (talk) 19:41, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I think it's best to take it out. We don't need to make a catalog and it's obviously causing more heat than light. EVDebs (talk) 17:30, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
If we "don't need to make a catalog" then why not delete the entire section? The reason it's causing more heat than light is entirely because of your persistence in removing it, and ignoring other people's opinions on the matter. --Onion <talk> 19:34, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

So far the only examples that appear to me to be "useful" are family values and radical Islam. To be a code word it has to be understood nudge-nudge-wink-wink by one group of people, while not being assailable on its face by others. Surely we can think of a couple more good examples? Even if they aren't modern or current? ħumanUser talk:Human 19:28, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm not the only one who's not convinced it belongs there. The definition that we've been arguing over is pointlessly inflammatory, and the article will not suffer for its absence. If we can't reach a consensus, then yank it. (Also, see my simultaneous comment above.) EVDebs (talk) 19:41, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, I think it's quite clear that darkies are just too damn stupid to do anything for themselves. So us good white folk, who are in a great position to make better decisions than those thick niggers need to yank them up. But not too far, after all, if we actually gave the coons actual equality, we'd not feel totally awesome for giving them special rights for being stupid and pathetic, would we!! Scarlet A.pngsshole 00:04, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, it's like I always say, we should just round up all the white people, put them in concentration camps, and kill them. Nods.gif
Srsly tho, there's so much indignation on this thread. --Quantheory (talk) 06:47, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

Suggested examples[edit]

I'm trying to come up with a few. Here be some ideas so far.

  • Welfare mother
  • Inner city
    • both typically used to imply but hide racism
  • Right to work
    • Not a great one, but holds an anti-union position
  • Is there anything dating back to the Irish and Italian immigration waves?
  • How about just "racist", as used typically by the left to mean "doesn't agree with me on race issues"? Or is that just a snarl word?
  • Lazy - can be used racially or to denigrate the unemployed

I'll try to come up with some more ideas. Surely there are some good British ones too? ħumanUser talk:Human 19:47, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

In the UK "inner city" is probably more a code word for poverty than race. Although I guess some might beg to differ.  Lily Inspirate me. 19:51, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
(EC) Keep "Family values" and "Radical islam" for sure. Racist and lazy are both snarl words used by different political fractions. Inner city is a code word, it can apply equally to race or poverty. --Onion <talk> 19:55, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Now, mind you, I am pro-choice, but pro-choice is a perfect example, if a rather transparent one. The meaning of the term is strictly contextual and the term itself is very loaded. EVDebs (talk) 20:03, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Lily on that. It's a well spotted one, but it's not entirely a racial subtext in the UK. However, it does seem that you have Muslims and Asisan disproportionately represented when you talk "inner city", but not exclusively by a long shot, you're equally likely to have charva kids who are pretty much billionth generation English BNP voters included there. It's really all about the tracksuits tucked into the socks more than race. Scarlet A.pngsshole 00:07, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
We should mention when and where given code words apply, then? IE, inner city or welfare mother being code in US politics? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:04, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Some UK examples that spring to mind are:
  • Travelling community = Thieving pikeys
  • Migrant workers = Cheap labour
  • Nighttime economy = Pissheads and prossies
DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 01:13, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm going to have to agree with Weaseloid on "intelligent design". If you know the origin of "cdesign proponentsists", the use of ID as a codeword for creationism is crystal clear. EVDebs (talk) 08:01, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

I agree, actually (alliteratively). "Intelligent design" was conspiratorially coined to characterize creationism as copacetic, to confuse courts and critics while confirming Christianity. (No, I have no idea why I did that.) --Quantheory (talk) 08:25, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Added back in. The whole history of the ID movement is about replacing terms like creationism which have religious connotations with ostensibly secular terms like ID which amount to the same thing (cf Wedge Document, Of Pandas and People). That seems to fit the definition of a code word given in the first line of this article pretty exactly.
Ah, ok, I see that point of view. That it wasn't very successful (unlike family values) is irrelevant. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:11, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Human, why don't you discuss edits you are removing or reverting from this article on the talk page rather than insisting that others who object to your unilateral changes do so. If you object to content you removed being added back in, why not give a more specific reason than just "I disagree"? ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:14, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Also. In principle, "chav" might count. The word is implied for bling ridden idiots on street corners drinking cider, but it's use by middle class kids it's mainly code for "those smelly underlings", i.e., working class, whether they're on street corners drinking cider or not. It's developed into quite an interesting term over the last 5-6 years. Scarlet A.pngsshole 11:22, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't think "open mind" belongs on there. Sure there are a few people like A.Schlafly who use "open your mind" to mean "think like I do" but I don't think they're really using the phrase as a code word; they're just deluded enough to think that their own world view really is an open-mind one. On the other hand, phrases like "open-minded" are also widely used & understood in their original meaning. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:53, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't know... I think the connotation of "dammit, agree with me because I'm too lazy to find out I might be wrong" is pretty straightforward code. EVDebs (talk) 18:01, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

Small business in US politics is definitely code for something, but I can't quite put my finger on exactly what... EVDebs (talk) 18:03, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

Innocent people think of family businesses when they here the term. The government's definition, IIRC, is grossing less than $100 million a year. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:10, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I sort of agree on Open Mind, but I'm not sure how much of it is just confusing the accepted actual definition. Scarlet A.pngsshole 12:34, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

Ooh ooh, "states' rights" is a code word. It sounds all find and dandy, "rights" are good, aren't they, but it means things like "we want to ban abortion", and a couple others too I think. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:26, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Well, it originally meant "we want to keep black people as property" and these days frequently means "we want to ignore what the federal government says about racism, secularism, and LGBT rights". Overall, there's a strong implication of "divide and conquer" -- if they can't get the federal government agree with them, they throw a 10th amendment temper tantrum and figure they can do it on the state level. I think it's also why a lot of states have elected judges -- judges subordinate to the people's prejudices aren't as likely to make politically unpopular decisions. (It also winds up with stark raving nutjobs like Roy Moore achieving way more power than they deserve.)
One thing's for sure -- very few people who are pro-"state's rights" are willing to talk about how much of an epic failure the Articles of Confederation were as a governing document, but if they got what they say they want, that's what we'd have. EVDebs (talk) 18:40, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Coded language[edit]

I'm not sure how to go about adding this because it's not about code words as such - and I wouldn't want to try and shoehorn this point as a "word". Anyway. As I've been reading up on the UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship ) recently, I've noticed their attitude to homosexuality is... let's say "subtle". Their doctrine of faith clearly states that everything in the Bible is the Truth - proper Capital T Truth. Which, of course, means gays are bad (as always, they're quiet on the shellfish). Now, most Christian groups that support gay rights come out and say so, don't they? They often make a point of saying "the Bible says X, Y and Z, but we think it's open to interpretation so homosexuality is fine by us, BTW, sorry for slavery" and stuff like that. But in the case of the UCCF, they are a lot more guarded - they don't shout from the rooftops that being gay is bad like US evangelists do, but neither do they promote gay rights or try to explain away the Bible's decision on it. They just leave it at "the Bible is the word of God" and "Homosexuality is a difficult question for society" and have massively long open ended and annoyingly inconclusive blog posts (which can be found at about whether homosexuality is a choice or not. It's not difficult to say it in plain terminology, especially if you're an organization at high risk of being declared homophobic!

Now, if I was being nice, I'd say they were just truly undecided and struggling to figure out what they should think. They all seem nice enough people, and you'd expect them to follow the progressive zeitgeist of the UK and particularly the higher education background here. On the other hand this attitude doesn't gel with their doctrine of faith. Simple cognitive dissonance, perhaps, and quite innocent once you take into account that they're proper hardcore Christians (their attitude is similar to creationism, but it's difficult to tell because all the info seems to be about bashing Dawkins, and more recently, Hawking).

But the cynic in me seems to think that they're just scared of coming out (pun retrospectively intended) and saying "homosexuality is bad" and so code the language in terms of "well, we believe the Bible is true" and "it's a difficult question". They can point at their literature and say that they're open minded and progressive and tolerant (although one of the posts on bethinking seems to imply that they're more tolerant because they have to put up with gay people, whom they think are immoral) but it doesn't take much to read between the lines and see what they really mean. So this is what I'm wondering about the "code words" thing, is it more than just general words and can it be just as much about what you don't say and refuse to commit to saying. In this case it might just be coded phrases but it's also context driven, so is difficult to clarify what to look for in a soundbite. Scarlet A.pngsshole 18:31, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't see what that has to do with coded language: you're commenting on what they don't say rather than what they do. The UCCF is a large organisation covering many Christian Union groups, & since the attitudes of British Christians towards homosexuality vary so widely (even the C of E can't get its story straight), for the UCCF to have a stated doctrine re homosexuality would be more damaging than not to, as with other contentious issues among Christians such as evolution or abstinence for example. I don't see anything particularly facetious about statements that the Bible is the Word of God or that everything it says is true - this is basically what most Christians believe (though of course there are varying interpretations as to how much is literal truth & how much is allegorical, etc). To read these statements about the Bible as code for "we hate the gays" is hanging your own interpretation on it - the Bible says a lot of things about a lot of things: why assume that the UCCF are alluding to that one particular thing? ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:05, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
This is why I was asking. I'm wondering if I'm paranoid or just leaping to conclusions. This is the one I'm mostly thinking of. It's very guarded and non-committal as towards saying homosexuality is wrong - but there's just something irking me in the subtext and the way it's phrased that I can't put my finger on. Which is what I'm getting at.
As for the argument that the UCCF represents a large number of people, if you sign up to a CU, you sign up to the doctrine of faith. If I signed up to a White Nationalist movement, you wouldn't then say, oh, that movement would represent people who weren't racists. Anyway, as I said, I'm just putting it out there to see if I'm on the right line or not - I'm not sure. Scarlet A.pngsshole 20:17, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
That article you cited is clearly anti-gay, pulling the old "love the sinner, hate the sin" rhetoric, which is its own kind of cant & not really coded language as such. I guess the UCCF is pretty much endorsing that stance by hosting it, though not all members necessarily have to agree with it (the bethinking FAQs stresses that varying Christian viewpoints are represented in the articles). I'm not convinced that the doctrine that members sign up to contains a coded message about homosexuality, & I don't understand your White Nationalist analogy. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:20, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
(EC) It's absolutely clear to me that the author of that article thinks homosexuality is morally wrong. It seems to me that the wishy-washy language of the article reflects a common rationalization of evangelicals. The goal is to maintain the opportunity to argue against homosexuality without seeming like a bigot, even though, by any reasonable definition, a god that sends non-believers and harmless "sinners" to hell is itself a bigot.
It's less clear what the position of the UCCF is; however, they do say:
For instance, were a speaker to condone, or indulge in, sexual activity outside of marriage, that would violate the DB’s assertion that the bible is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour, for the bible is clear on that issue.
This pretty much rules out them being OK with gays, unless they believe in gay marriage (while is not official policy, I don't see anyone in favor of it there, although I do see some "man and a woman" straight-marriage-is-great stuff).
I suppose you could argue that this is common coded language. But it seems a lot more like a case of I'm not prejudiced, but... It's not that the message is being hidden so much as that "prejudice" or "bigotry" is being redefined to require outright hatred or violence, and then the message is being given in a "tolerant", "understanding" way. "I don't have anything against black people, I just think it's really hard to make a marriage work, and a child needs the support of a certain community. Outside of a few lucky exceptions, I'm just not sure that interracial marriages can work." *ahem*Mormons*ahem* In this example, there's no code, and it's definitely about interracial marriage. What they are trying to argue is that it's not "bigotry".
While I know of no single code word (or short code phrase) about this, some common coded signs for "I don't approve of gays" are:
  • Describing men and women as "complementary" or "made for each other" such that their relationship is "unique" (there's an entire Catholic propaganda video about this, where they constantly talk about same-sex marriage without talking about same-sex marriage).
  • Describing monogamous marriage as designed by God (particularly the "one flesh" bit from Genesis) and sincerely using the phrase "a man and a woman" to describe biblical marriage (ever).
  • Giving a specific definition of bigotry during a conversation about homosexuality. If this ever happens, it's almost certainly a case of "I'll only agree to a definition of this word that doesn't include me."
By the way, I have some relatively liberal friends that have made me sit through this sort of thing from the priest/pastor/minister in their weddings. I mean, really people: it's a straight couple's wedding; do you really have to throw in the 30-second "marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman" bit? We know the genders of the people standing up there; you can save the political talking points for your Sunday sermon.
Srsly though, if you want an example of nauseatingly well-made propaganda, watch that Catholic vid.--Quantheory (talk) 23:23, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Actually, Weaseloid, I kind of agree. I think I just jumped the gun and read too much into it. I might be slightly biased as I know they once sent out emails to LGBT representatives basically telling them they were going to hell. I think Quantheory might be right about the general case being more "not prejudiced, but..." more than coded. I was thinking about the description of "code word" according to this article; that it increases acceptability to outsiders, while still being meaningful to the in-group. Scarlet A.pngsshole 08:35, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Monty Python quote[edit]

I'd wager the quote I added only adds to the confusion. Though, I'd like for it to remain for absurdist reasons. That's just me though - I won't argue with a reversion. My nipples are already exploding with delight as it is. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 23:16, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

Unsuitable title[edit]

I'm really not sure of this title at all. A "code word" would be a conscious masking of a particular concept, while "dog whistle" accusations take in both that, and things that someone hasn't said.

One tactic of the far left these days is to ascribe certain ideas to anyone who gets in their path, regardless of whether they hold them or not. The opponent is then forced to backtrack and argue according to their framework. The accuser does not have to provide any proof of their accusation other than saying it is "implicit" (which means not directly said) or "unconscious" (usually relying on the accuser pointing to the person's skin colour or gender - without irony).

The danger here is that these accusations are often baseless. Trying to guess everyone's internal life is a zero sum game, because it is frequently wrong. It is also lazy and prejudiced thinking, because the accuser is thinking of the person in a a collective setting with a set menu of ideas, rather than as an individual with multiple influences and the ability to make decisions... Or even be misunderstood.-Albannach (talk) 12:59, 30 June 2021 (UTC)