Daily Bread for 7.17.22: On Latinx

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater be partly sunny, with scattered afternoon thunderstorms, and a high of 84. Sunrise is 5:32 AM and sunset 8:29 PM for 14h 58m 38s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 80.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1955, Disneyland is dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.

  There’s much controversy of what to call a person or group: by the nouns or pronouns members of the group would prefer, or by terms apart from individual or group preference? The term Latinx is an example this question. Frank Newport of Gallup addressed the topic earlier this year in Controversy Over the Term ‘Latinx’: Public Opinion Context:

One of the central threads in critiques of the use of “Latinx” is evidence measuring the opinions of rank-and-file Hispanic Americans themselves. These data show that relatively few Hispanic adults have even heard of the term, and very few indicate an interest in using it to describe their ethnicity.

My colleagues Justin McCarthy and Whitney Dupree reviewed Gallup’s research this past summer. Only 4% of Hispanic Americans surveyed by Gallup preferred “Latinx” as the label of choice to describe their ethnic group. The majority (57%) said that a choice among the labels “Hispanic,” “Latino,” “Latinx” or another term didn’t matter to them, while another 23% preferred “Hispanic” and 15% preferred “Latino.” These results were very similar to those from a Gallup survey conducted in 2013.

A follow-up question asked the 57% of Hispanic Americans who initially said it didn’t matter to them which term was used if they leaned toward the use of any of the labels. Only 5% of this residual group (equivalent to 3% of all Hispanics) leaned toward the label “Latinx”; most tilted toward the use of “Hispanic” or “Latino.” Overall, then, Gallup data show that at most 7% of Hispanic adults have an interest in the use of the term “Latinx.”

These results have been replicated in other surveys. Pew Research in 2020 reported that 76% of Hispanic Americans had not heard of the term “Latinx,” while only 3% reported they actually used it and 4% said they prefer it be used to describe the Hispanic or Latino population.

What is a libertarian to make of this?

First, in a private context, between individuals or groups, people should be able to describe themselves as they’d prefer.  Others, outside those groups, should be free to meet those preferences (the culturally considerate position) or reject those preferences (less considerate but still lawful).

Second, in cases where one doesn’t know how a given member of a group wishes to describe himself or herself, it’s sound to rely on what one knows about most members through polling and surveys. (This isn’t a libertarian position as much as a practical one: a first approximation, so to speak, relies on likelihoods derived from sound surveys.)

Third, government should accept and accommodate strongly-held preferences of designations among adults’ preferences where possible. People are possessed of individual rights, and individual rights, when harmless to others, are to be respected. (If this were not so, there would be no legitimate dissent in speech or religion. Contra Trump, the liberal in liberal democracy doesn’t mean left-of-center, it means respect for individual rights within a majority-voting polity.)

(The hardest questions about terminology don’t involve adult speakers, but government’s response to children speaking away from their parents in terms those parents do not accept. That’s not my topic here, but it states the obvious to sat that that question is an order of magnitude more intense than debates among adults about terminology. A topic for another time…) 

As for speaking about the Hispanic community, this non-Hispanic libertarian will begin by describing that community as a surveyed majority of its own members prefer. I’ll adjust in reference to individual members as they’d prefer, and if a majority of the Hispanic community one day adopts a new designation, then I will adopt that term. 

Their preferences should supersede an imposed term. 

Why Real Dijon Mustard Is So Expensive:

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments