A Canadian student group apologises for including he Lou Reed song Walk on the Wild Side in a playlist, on the basis that the lyrics of the song are transphobic and therefore ‘problematic’. Transphobia seems a pretty weird charge to lay against this particular song -a song which actually celebrates a transexual character in its opening verse- but let’s leave that aside. What I find actually creepiest about this story is the use of the word ‘problematic’.
To be clear about this, I don’t mind people strongly objecting to what other people say. ‘I find X’s views utterly obnoxious’, is fine. So is ‘X’s views are racist” (and indeed so is ‘ X’s views are transphobic’, whether or not it happens to be a reasonable charge in this particular case). But ‘X’s views are problematic’, which in a way sounds more polite, less confrontational, I find quite nauseating.
I’m trying to figure out why. I think in part it’s the very politeness that I object to, the tight, anal, priggish, self-control that is implied. But I think perhaps also it’s the implication that there exists a single correct account of the world, which the speaker possesses and others do not.