My post ten days ago about Ta-Nehisi Coates and and how I thought he might have gotten out a few inches ahead of his skis with his assertion in The Atlantic that cuckoldry has become a racialized insult drew thoughtful commentary and linkage, for which I thank you all. (The one “nothing wrong with sea-lioning” guy went straight to the bit bucket.)

However, yesterday I noted with amusement that Coates’ essay drew a lengthy-to-the-point-of-tedium point-by-point critique from the Marxist left in Counterpunch, where his stuff is deemed “brilliant bourgeois bullshit” in the headline. So, you know, consider the source. Under the delicious sub-head “More Over-Reach: Questionable Cuck-Talk”, author Paul Street (who must have been running low on purely Marxist critiques) bluntly writes:

There’s nothing about race in any known definition of the word cuckold. Maybe there ought to be but there isn’t.

Street, of course, is right as far as he goes. But as the commentary on my last post makes clear, words are defined not only by reference to stodgy dictionaries, but also by their actual use within a social context. And I’m not quite so big a fool that I would declare Coates wrong on this, sawing madly at the limb behind me; all I’m willing to do is to say that if he’s right, he’s got access to contextual material that I do not. (Which would be no surprise at all.)

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