Well, the last post has been deleted (laid to rest with flags and bugles) as it caused a wee bit of a stooshie. And a perfectly fair challenge to what I wrote. Which makes me ruminate on provocative statements.
A week or two back, we replaced the sermon with a Muslim-Christian dialogue. The Muslim speaker finished by telling a very un-PC joke which I found funny, but I'm used to Glasgow humour. I remarked at the time: "If I'd said that, I'd have been reported to the Racial Equality people". But he could say it and what he said maybe made us think about some of our unexamined attitudes. In that sense, the provocative can be useful, as it does provoke thought.
But another Muslim person might have been seriously upset. And could quite legitimately have accused him of either collusion with racism or being devoid of taste and sensitivity. The response might have been that by reclaiming the pejorative language, he was satirising and subverting the opposition. And that by doing that he was embracing and affirming his identity and empowering himself. Something, for example, those who use terms like "Queer theology" would argue they are doing. A bit like judo, taking the strength of the insult and turning it back on the opponent to floor them.
I've never quite agreed with the self proclaimed "queer theologians". I see what they're trying to do, but their adoption of that language has seemed, to me at least, to reveal an abiding self hatred and acceptance of a negative stereotype peddled by the homophobic.
There is a strain in the Judeo-Christian tradition which has taken the insult, adopted it and worn it as a proud badge of identity. The term "Hebrews" for example. The Ancient Egyptians applied this term for wandering, nomadic, smelly and "uncivilised" tribes (the Habiru) to the captive Israelites, who took it over and used it to identify themselves as a people. Some synagogues today proudly describes themselves as "Hebrew Congregations". The same is true of the term "Christian", first used in Antioch as an insulting nickname. Pliny the Younger, when writing as Governor of Bithynia to his boss the Emperor Hadrian, described Christians as "cannibals", totally misunderstanding the nature of the Eucharist and that was used as an accusation against followers of "the Way" when sending them to the lions.
I suppose it depends on who uses what term and whether or not they openly identify themselves with the derided group. The "N-word" debate is pretty good example. Or Jonathan Ross's backing group on a Friday night. It seems to be OK for someone to use a pejorative term to describe themselves (self affirming) but not on to use a similar term for a group of which they are either not a part or not openly and positively identified with.
No answers here, just thoughts.