Hey American Left: Can we stop calling people "trash?"

I have noticed a trend among lefty types of referring to people who do bad things as “trash.” They will say, “he is trash” or “people who X are trash.”

I see it on this message board. I see it on Twitter. I see it on Facebook. And I see it from people whose opinions I otherwise respect and whose politics I often share.

But the idea it expresses is awful. No person is trash. They aren’t trash even if they do terrible things and aren’t held accountable for them. If you believe in basic human dignity for everyone, as you fucking should, then you shouldn’t call anyone trash.

The end.

Just to check, it’s OK for the center and right to continue this practice then?

Why this sudden bugaboo? What words are acceptable to you in place of trash?

Please fix this sentence: People who are involved in dog-fighting are trash!

People who are involved in dog-fighting are less than optimally humanized. Therefore, they are comparable to household disposables.

It’s not something I’ve noticed. And given my roots, it would apply to me.

It is hard to assign basic human dignity to people who have none.

I’d rather not. But I don’t think it’s safe to assume that such people believe in universal human dignity, so I’m not able to advance the same argument.

Because I perceive a sudden uptick in the use of the word. It is principally by 20-somethings and people who work in and around 20-somethings (especially academics).

I’d prefer to discuss the conduct you think is bad, instead of dehumanizing someone.

Using 10 words where one suffices is not always a good thing.

The end? I don’t think so.
Would it be o.k. if I go through the what people on the right, both on this board and out in public, say about those they abhor and pick out substitute words or phrases?

Okay, who gave BigT Richard’s password?

Sure. But we live in a time of increasing polarization and alienation and decreasing civility. Spending a few more words to go out of our way not to dehumanize people is worth the effort.

Calling people trash strikes me as the sort of thing the Twentieth Century’s worst villains did. I don’t like the allusion.

(I realize this is a weird little nit. That’s why this is in MPSIMS!)

I can sympathize with the OP. I don’t like it when anyone demonizes the other side, and Richard is making an appeal to his side. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. “But they do it, too” is pretty childish, IMO.

But you didn’t start a thread about how we as a whole should stop call calling other people trash.
You called out the “American Left”, as if it was a problem they had in particular. I just did a quick check and

  1. It isn’t used in the context mentioned in your OP very often, and
  2. Of the few times it was used in that context, I’m not seeing any monopoly of its use by the left.

I guess I need to see some of these examples. But this looks like a minor complaint over a non-issue to me.

I don’t know how I would go about proving it, and frankly I’m wholly uninterested in proving that this is a usage that, in my social sphere, is coming almost exclusively from young lefty types. You’re free to disbelieve me. The point of this thread wasn’t to prove the usage. It was to complain about it. If you agree it is bad, then I am satisfied, even if you think it is not a common usage or not more prominent on the left.

I’m fine with avoiding calling categories of people ‘trash’ and I’m not in the habit of using the word even in reference to specific people. However, when I feel an individual has done something particularly egregious and has IMO abdicated their right to respect, I reserve the right to use whatever words I see fit to express the strength and depth of my scorn for them.

Also, I too am baffled as to why this is seen as an ‘American Left’ problem ("…especially people who care about strangers / who care about evil and social injustice…"). I’ve seen no sign of it being used more prominently by one side than another. Obviously the OP’s MMV.

I guess I’ve never noticed it, but then again I hardly ever look at twitter. Who are some of the well-known liberals who routinely use this term?

Does that matter? If it’s only used by non-famous people is it ok? What’s the point of your question?

I don’t think that Richard is saying it is "an ‘American Left’ problem’ and no one else’s; he’s saying it’s a problem and the American Left is a group that has that problem and he would like for it to not be something that the American Left did at all, let alone did so much that he perceives it to be a problem.

The fact that he called out only one side, the side he identifies with and thus feels he has some influence and desires their public perception to match his ideal, well, he would prefer that the people who identify as “on his side” stop doing this thing that he finds objectionable and counterproductive.

If a Republican called out the GOP for racism, that would not mean that they think that there is no racism anywhere else, right?

I just did a self-check on my usage of the word on this message board. I found it in 36 of my posts over the years, and most of those were in quotes from other posters and references to actual trash. I used it the way the OP pointed out once.

Calling out the GOP for racism on this board would bring out howls of protest and a ton of counter-examples that would dwarf any objections you may see in this thread, no matter which side did the calling.