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If the implication is that antilocution is an early stage of extermination, then I can't possibly agree, because that sounds far too simplistic.

Banter is very difficult to assess, and probably impossible to eliminate. Any groups that overlap will always have some level of banter, and I'm not convinced it's always a bad thing.

I think it only becomes a bad thing when it's used as an excuse to depersonalise the other group.

But it's the depersonalisation of members of the other group that's the problem. The banter can be a part of that. But it can also be anywhere else on a spectrum from genuinely friendly to very competitive without actually being pathological.

The problem I have with the framing is that it's putting the cart before the horse. You can't use the Nazis or the Klan to make points about diversity training because they're pathological to start with. They begin with hatred of The Other, and everything that happens after that is a logical progression of that hatred.

If your culture doesn't promote that hatred  forcefully, the worst that will happen is some of the more paranoid people will drift into avoidance. But it's the constant external reinforcement that breeds the pathological hatred in the rest of the population and leads to the next stages. I don't believe they happen naturally without it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 06:51:47 AM EST
Were all of Hitlers' followers necessarily pathological to start with?  With Nazi Germany it was a leader like Hitler who managed to persuade people that his beliefs/prejudices were to be bought into and that his orders regarding these groups that he had a hatred of were to be followed.  So the negative images and the hatred of Jews and other groups was continually reinforced.  But it all started somewhere, whether it was a natural escalation or not. Earlier on Jews were often the target of name calling, cariactures and stereotypes and these were reinforced as 'fact' thus making it justifiable to dislike and discriminate against jews.

Worth bearing mind that the path towards extermination doesn't have to begin at antilocution and can start at any stage above that.

It sounds simplistic but antilocution sets the scene and the culture and then continually reinforces the messages that come out of it eg an office environment where women are not treated as equals or with respect. That then builds up into the exclusion and marginalisation of women within that workplace and can in cases go further into indecent assaults and so on. Just as an example, it could be applied to any other group where things just escalate and go too far because nobody has stepped in to stop it sooner or individuals don't have the confidence to challenge the behaviours that upset them.

I agree that a certain amount of banter is healthy but it depends if and how somebody is being targetted by that banter and the impact it has on that individual. Where the environment is such that if someone complains about being offended by a joke, they are automatically dismissed with "it's only a bit of fun, don't be so sensitive", then it is allowing exclusion and reinforces the message that it is ok to target and discriminate against people.

Perhaps in a more academic sense there are flaws with making the comparison between the holocaust and people being nasty to each other in the office, but in the training environment, it worked extremely well.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 07:47:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you've pinpointed one of the difficulties of using Allport in some situations: It is far easier to focus on and discuss extreme forms of bigotry than to deal with subtle forms of bigotry that are more likely to characterise daily interactions.

Banter is fun, but I'm not sure it is harmless when it focuses on stereotyped differences. I think there is a difference between banter among people of two different, but interacting groups, who are working together, versus two groups that see each other as competing or of markedly different status, versus people who are joking solely within their own group.  

The first type of banter may be acceptable when there is a degree of balance between the groups, and both are comfortable challenging each other and the banter is not damaging to their working relationship, e.g. neither side has to swallow resentment. The second type of banter may be expected, but isn't necessarily good (athletic challenges descending into riots come to mind). The third type of banter may seem harmless, but I think it can slide over into acceptance of a prejudiced view that will affect relationships outside the group, e.g. reinforcing stereotypes.

I do agree, however, that expansion of prejudices into wiping out ethnic groups is not automatic, nor simple. It requires charismatic, coercive, and educational actions on a wide public scale over a period of time to build to the point that such actions become acceptable.  

by Kspeak (thorfinn at skip this ameritech dot net as usual) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 07:58:43 AM EST
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I agree with your last point especially.  

It makes me wonder, can the reverse motive be made to work the same way? Or does strength of feeling such as hatred play an important role?

ie can we continually, in a high profile way, promote acceptance, inclusion, tolerance etc through use of charismatic leadership, education and so on (not necessarily coercion but possibly through regulation...)

Would that work? Or is it the focus and emotional investment of having something fairly specific to work towards that is the key to success eg getting rid of Jews, or getting that woman out of our laddish workplace...

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 08:23:00 AM EST
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