(and, side note, don’t think it’s a bullshit evasive term like “politically correct”)
firstly: to me, calling someone out primarily means calling them out for abuse or assault. that’s the context I first heard the term in. like confronting a rapist, for example. therefore, I really dislike the…
So now intention, act, and effect, these three; but the greatest of these is effect.
- - after 1 Corinthians 13:13
Yes and yes and also; social systems of relation are recreated on all scales of interaction in an iterative fashion. These fractal patterns of behaviour don’t require full understanding or even intent to be repeated, and this does not make them any the less damaging. Even it’s not the act itself I’m concerned with, but the effect of the act - an outcome which is changed entirely by context. Regarding call-outs, I’m concerned by a very different but oftentimes conflatable (or at least conflated, especially by people who are being total fucking assholes) tactic, which has a lot more to do with ideas of “political correctness”: claiming offence.
For a witness to criticise behaviours (I mean here to include language) on the basis of being offended is a discursive tactic which establishes cessation as a favour to the witness; the behaviour is restrained out of deference to the witness’ sensitivity. Speaking of offence rather than outcome costs a potentially constructive exploration of the broader effects of the actor’s behaviour. There is a pain in witnessing which comes with the knowledge of the effect of the witnessed act and which may not be known or fully understood by the actor. Without denying this pain - or invalidating it as sufficient reason to ask someone not to be a jerk - I’d suggest that the witness’ obligation is more than to demand an opportunity to turn away or be absent from the act; it is to testify to the whole.
Which is irrelevant in the absence of goodwill; as so often, Lia Incognita says it better than I can:
“today someone said “I don’t like to drive around here because there’s so many Africans”. I don’t know what to say to that because it seems redundant to point out that it’s racist. But it also feels silly to counter that I have a problem with racism because surely that’s a foreseeable event that the speaker has chosen to disregard”
But maybe that’s a whole different kind of conversation and doesn’t really hold up to comparison.