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April 24, 2008

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Justin R. M.

In cases like that where I'm made uncomfortable by comments—notably racist ones—from others around me most of the time all you can do is laugh it off. If it's really offensive I'll say, “Well, I admire your honesty.” Asking probing philosophical questions is surely useful at times, but some people are impervious to that kind of approach. Also, it's not so clear that wasting your time like that would be of any use anyhow. It's tantamount to debating religious people: You're not going to change their mind and they aren't going to change yours. Shrug your shoulders and wonder how it is this species hasn't gone extinct yet.

Bob

Comedian Stewart Lee tells a story about a cab driver who expressed his slight homophobia ("I think all homosexuals should be killed").
See this youtube video - especially the cab driver's brilliant retort.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n-UGQcG3Jw

Ophelia Benson

That does sound very surreal. I would have been not suspicious but firmly convinced I was in some 'Blokes Behaving Badly' or 'Cabbies Say the Funniest Things' episode or other. That's all the more true because there actually is a US tv show in which a New York cab turns out to be a tv quiz - the driver asks the passenger(s) questions and awards them money unless they get three wrong, all on camera. It's only a matter of time before 'Racist Cab Driver' does become a reality show.

amanda

"Some of my best friends are Daily Mail readers" (but only if it was free at the gym!)

Thomas

Thanks for having the guts to share this uncomfortable incident. We've all had moments where the tug between good manners and good morals leave us afterward wondering whether we shouldn't have been more assertive. (The right answer is always so context-dependant that ethical rules offer us little help.) But with the opportunity to imagine these kinds scenarios in advance, we're a bit more likely to respond in ways we can be proud of when they confront us in real life. By sharing your unease, you're alerted your readers to think through how they'll choose to handle themselves in similar situations.

Pauline Kiernan

When I took a degree course in what was then called Communication Studies at what became the University of Westminster(and a fantastic one)in the early 70s, we were required to read every national newspaper, and particularly the Mail, Express, Sun and Mirror every day. Groups rotated to post cuttings on the notice boards in the central area so that we could quickly compare coverage of stories - just as important, which papers placed their ads in.

It was one of the most valuable exercises I ever learnt. I still read these papers now and again, and I always make a point of reading the Mail regularly. At the risk of sounding a touch fey (and mixing my metaphors) I think anything that can stop me slumbering in my liberal-minded cocoon and destabilise my footing on the moral high ground is a good thing. I need to know what people who don't feel the same way as me think about things. My son is appalled when he finds these papers in the house. But I just tell him you gotta broaden your understanding of what's going on out there.

mark adams

It doesn't take a letter on Sartre to establish that you are prejudiced about The Daily Mail. You seem to associate the cabbie's critique of Stephen Lawrence with a presumed racism in The Mail. If you saw the Mail's coverage of that murder and it's aftermath, you'd see an extraordinary and aggressive sympathy for Lawrence and antipathy for his suspected killers.

My prejudice is that your prejudice is a typical case of social liberals projecting their own bugbears onto conservative media in order to de-legitimize them in polite society.

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