What makes stereotyping immoral? I work with people who think stereotyping is extremely evil, bigoted and immoral and if you didn’t know this, they will tell you.
For a long time I accepted this as truth. I adopted the concept that, yes, it is wrong. One could say I jumped on the bandwagon, as many do, without much critical thought. The only thing needed to convince me of this evil, were, apparently a group of people bullying me to believe I was wrong and they were right.
When I actually did start to question it, I was provided reasons that were less than convincing, and seemed to me that it was just PC BS. But, I’d like to present what I feel, and then open it up for people to destroy my position with well reasoned arguments, or affirm they agree in large part.
My position is that stereotypes are based on personal experience. We try and make sense of our world. Our first priority, is self preservation.
When I grew up, I witnessed first hand and was the victim of a number of black people who tried to start fights with me. I have witnessed groups of black people beating up people. Over time, I learn that to protect myself, I’d keep some distance when I saw a group of black men. I’d cross the street to avoid the confrontation. After all, based on my experience, I didn’t want to roll the dice and hope they were not going to attack me. I have also done this with white groups, who dress the part, like thugs. I feel zero guilt about this.
Then I have met and become friends with a number of black people. Never did the stereotype apply to them, or all blacks in general. It applied to a subset that was characterized from past experiences.
Stereotypes apply to a statistic, whether real or imagined that lines up with our experiences. They only apply on a broad level, and never on an individual level and this is for obvious reasons; as we gain information, we reanalyze the situation. This is why Republicans can be friends with Democrats are vice-versa. They have more data to judge with and the good they see outweighs the bad, otherwise they would not be friends.
But even positive stereotypes, why are they too, rejected? I can say that black people can jump or run fast. That is a compliment, but if a white person says that, it is racist. Yet, a black person can say “white men can’t jump”.
Moving beyond race, we can apply a large range of stereotyping… Jesus stereotyped. “Scribes and Pharisees” and called non Jewish people “dogs”… Certainly, if Christ did it…
I don’t feel stereotypes are wrong nor malicious and come with the given that they are spoken from a particular point of view, which is based on this person’s experience and interaction with this data set. That doesn’t mean a person’s stereotyping is factually accurate as a whole, just that from their POV and experiences, it is true to them.
In one sense, how dare we tell another person that their interactions with a data set are wrong and that we can sweepingly tell them that their real world experiences are wrong? That doesn’t seem moral to me. Perhaps we could better say, “I see you have had negative experiences with this data set, but I have found that this isn’t the case in my experience” Validate their position, state yours. What I see, however, is people declaring another’s experience as invalid and forcing theirs down someone else’s throat.