We've previously discussed flagging dog whistles, but I think we should discuss the use of the term "dog whistle" in questions and answers.
tim gave this answer which says
Generally when people talk about "woke indoctrination", it's a dog whistle. They don't mean woke in it's original meaning ("socially and politically aware").
Later edited to
Generally when people talk about "woke indoctrination", it's a purposefully vague dog whistle*. They don't mean woke in it's original meaning ("socially and politically aware").
- "For decades, Republicans have used somewhat vague terms (“dog whistles”) to tap into and foment resentment against traditionally marginalized groups like Black Americans who are pushing for more rights and freedoms."
And he ends with
"Woke indoctrination" isn't the only dog-whistle in his speech. America-Last for example is a reference to the far-right America First policy (a phrase coined by Woodrow Wilson, used by the pro-fascist America First Committee, popularized by the KKK, and later used by Donald Trump).
The problem is that "dog whistle" is a pejorative term in this context. The clear implication here is that anyone who uses the term "woke indoctrination"
- Is a racist
- Is covertly signaling their racist allies
True dog whistles creates a sound that cannot be heard by humans, only dogs. The way the term is being used here, the inverse is true: only those who listen to what the poster says can hear the "true" message and, thus, identify who the dogs are. In other words, the people identifying "dog whistles" are giving the phrase their own meaning and proceeding as if that were the intended meaning. Consider this passage from tim's post
Proponents of the "woke indoctrination" conspiracy theory are of the opinion that schools are teaching white children to be ashamed of being white and are discriminated because of their whiteness (see eg this example featuring Ron DeSantis). Describing the historical and current impact of racism and discrimination is seen as a prescriptive act and indoctrination.
If you go to the provided link, you're not going to see anything at all espousing "the opinion that schools are teaching white children to be ashamed of being white and are discriminated because of their whiteness". In fact, the word "white" doesn't appear anywhere in the press release at all. But the humans have identified the "dog whistle", so it must be true here, right?
There's no way I can see to "good faith" this. The entire post boils down to
Kevin McCarthy is saying this to promote white supremacy within the Republican party, and suppress the education of children about racism
That's... a pretty extreme argument. There is no substance to the post otherwise. Contrast this with Jeff Lambert's answer. I might not agree with it, but he at least makes salient points and admits where other meanings can be had. tim leaves no such room. The ban on asking if a given political figure is fascist is instructive
When we post questions about the political positions of individual people, then we should do so by asking for actual positions on specific issues. We should not ask whether or not abstract labels apply. Why?
- Abstract labels almost always include a positive or negative connotation. "Fascist" is a label with an especially negative connotation. Our goal is to inform people, not convince them of our views. So applying labels with strong connotations should be avoided on this website.
- Abstract labels are interpreted differently by different people. It doesn't tell us as much about the political views of the person as it tells us about the political views of the person applying that label.
"dog whistle" appears to be such an abstract label.
I would propose the following rule:
The term "dog whistle" may not be used to assume the poster knows some non-obvious meaning that the original speaker meant to convey to their followers, where saying it explicitly would cause political fallout. Posts that violate the rule are subject to removal.
This way, the rule still allows good-faith posts
- Asking how politicians/pundits define/use the term
- Asking why someone (not the poster) considers a phrase to be a "dog whistle" (still needs to be good faith and answerable from that person's point of view)