25 February 2013

I Hope You Find This Offensive

Ya know how people say: don't get me wrong. I'm the opposite. Please get me wrong. Totally wrong. Misinterpret what I say. Take it out of context. Develop a mistaken impression of me. And those words you took out of context? Twist them. See me as what I am not. Pervert your limited understanding of me. Assume the worst. Misconstrue to your hearts content. Fail to grasp my meaning. Mistake my sarcasm for heartfelt convictions.

Now that we've got that out of the way....


For crying out loud stop offending people. Don't use the n word (nigger) the f word (fag). Don't use the q word (queer). Don't use the r word (retarded). Please do not make fun of people's weight -- no fat shaming. Sticks and stones may break bones but words will bloody well kill a person. This is what we need to be focused on as a society. Forget hunger poverty drug abuse domestic abuse crime gang activity incarceration rates. Never mind economic disparities. That's hard stuff. Here's what we should be worrying about: Lena Dunham got a tweet from comedian Lisa Lampanelli that had a picture of the two of them and the caption was: "Me with my nigga ... I love this beyotch!!" I know pretty awful isn't it? Well the worst part is that Dunham didn't immediately distance herself from the tweet and lambaste Lampanelli. It took FOUR DAYS for Dunham to say: "That's not a word I would EVER use. Its implications are beyond my comprehension. I was made supremely uncomfortable by it, perhaps I should have addressed it, but the fact is I've learned that Twitter debates breed more Twitter debates." And that -- of course -- simply was not good enough. An abject public apology in the middle of Times Square by Dunham and a subsequent public quartering of Lampanelli was called for. There were entire columns dedicated to taking Dunham to task for not beating Lamapanelli to death with a shovel. These are the defining issues of our generation. Making sure that we are very careful with what we say. African Americans don't need better schools or job programs they need offensive terms about them not being used by white women.

This freedom of speech business has gone on long enough.

We saw it at the Oscars last night too. People making jokes. A few on twitter called out host Seth MacFarlane for "fat shaming" humor and conflating gays with musicals. Homophobe! Fat people should not be subject to the ridicule of comics. Do you realize how difficult it is to say no to a donut? Or three? Oesity is no joke (it's actually a way of life in America). And let's not stereotype gay people for comic purposes. Or anyone else. Feelings might be hurt. Might. You never know. What if you make a joke or comment and someone is -- heaven forbid -- offended? What then?

From a blog post by the great Dick Cavett: I’ve never quite understood why this word — “offended” — is so horrifying. What doesn’t offend somebody? And who wants to see, read or write anything that is simon-pure in its inability to offend those dreaded “someones”? Anyone working in the media can tell you that there seems to be an always-ready-to-explode segment of the populace for whom offense is a fate worse than anything imaginable. You’d think offense is one of the most calamitous things that could happen to a human being; right up there with the loss of a limb, or just missing a parking space.

What is our obligation to the offendees? To help them limit their suffering by avoiding all offense? With what advice?

You could stay in the house, watch no TV, read nothing of any kind including potentially upsetting snail mail or e-mail, and you just might manage to glide through an offense-free day. No surly neighbor, no near-misses by unpunished, demented, sidewalk-riding cyclists, no cab driver letting other cabs in ahead of yours while distractedly nattering on his phone in no known language. Stay cocooned and you will risk no insults from rude waiters, no pain from gruff clerks, no snarls from any employees of United Airlines.

As you can tell I'm bloody sick and tired of people being defended from words. How about a defense from actions and deeds? That's where real damage can be done.

We want to live in a zoloft world where it's always sunny and everyone is careful about what they say and no offensive is taken or given and originality is sanitized before being presented for public consumption. Chew all the life out of it. Pablum for everyone!

I'm glad we no longer live in a USA where black people are routinely called or referred to as nigger or any of the other countless derogatory terms that were hurled about. I'm glad we're sensitive to the plight of all minorities and strive for equality in the workplace and in our culture. I embrace multi culturalism and ethnic diversity. I'm glad gay people can come out of the closet and people with disabilities are accommodated. I just wish




talk and joke and tweet and text and speechify and orate and chat and email without this constant nagging fear that we MAY be "offending" someone. Maybe. Cause ya know....

I hope you found this offensive and don't get me wrong. Unless you really want to.

No comments: