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Posts Tagged ‘Perspective’

I did something this morning that I haven’t done in a very, very long time.

I shut the radio off during a news report.

It wasn’t before shouting.

I’m not proud of that, but the tantrumatic expressions of an entire generation marinated in the divisive and toxic stew of political correctness have reached a zenith for me.

It was yet another story about how people who are ostensibly adults have nothing better to do than gather outside a building with the President’s name on it, and angrily protest the fact that a man who has zero connection with a tiny (and I mean statistically insignificant) group didn’t “do” enough to specifically denounce them in the strongest possible terms.

Like so many other “outrages” surrounding the President’s communications, this is yet another misstep by the President.  Not because he didn’t do as our self-appointed betters in the media, and their shrinking audiences seemed to think necessary, but because he didn’t take the opportunity to set them straight.

Sadly, we have reached a point in this country where without any real consensus, as evidenced by a successful ratification process, whereby we have amended the First Amendment.  By allowing the creation of a de facto right to not be offended, we have enshrined the heckler’s veto, and subjected the freedom of expression to the censor of 50%+1.

If you are one of the people reading this, and saying to yourself “But Blackiswhite, some ideas are so repulsive that they should be shut down, by any means necessary.”, I’m going to tell you, unequivocally, you are wrong, and as un-American as you can possibly  be.  And I don’t care if you don’t like that.  I don’t give a good God Damn if you are “triggered” by that.  Despite all recent efforts to the contrary, life doesn’t come with “safe spaces” and places to color, suck your thumb, or cling to your blankie, while rocking back and forth.

America has been successful because of its freedoms.  The lynchpin of the entire experiment is embodied in the First Amendment, and we are all made to be better citizens by it when we participate in the marketplace of ideas, rather than demanding that the marketplace be shut down.  To silence someone for saying something you don’t like is lazy.  It is easy.  And it is tyrannical, because it ultimately punishes “bad” thoughts.  And given what is being “taught” in the ivory halls of academia today, it is sadly predictable.

It comes down to this:  Compulsion is easy; persuasion is difficult.  But persuasion doesn’t rely on fear or force for conversion, and it requires you to understand, to think about, and to evaluate your reasons for thinking the way that you do.  It also requires the deepest kind of honesty…honesty to yourself, because if you have to confront the reality that the facts don’t support what you believe, but you choose to believe it anyway, then your beliefs are not rational.  And that’s ok, too, but you no longer get to claim “consensus”, or that the “science is settled” or that someone is “on the wrong side of history”, or any other fatally weak rationale for not engaging in a debate, and instead, attempting to silence those who believe differently than you do.

All of this is bad enough, but this latest manifestation, in regard to the denunciations of the President, and the obligatory breathless reporting on it is not only a blatant double standard, but an engagement in a game that the subject can never win.  For better or worse, there is a segment of the population for whom nothing this President, or the party he claims affiliation with will ever be worthy.  The idea that he must be made to specifically denounce a group he has nothing to do with, in the strongest terms, is laughable, as is the implication by doing so, he will magically be granted their approbation.  To believe this is to believe that these same critics would abandon the “victimhood” status which they have employed to such great advantage, rather than simply moving the goal posts, as this twitter exchange illustrates .  The weakness that too many who suffer this kind of assault fail to see is that capitulating to these kinds of demands means allowing others to shape and form your own speech, until you fit into the same mold their as their own preferences, making you indistinguishable from those preferences, but less appealing, because those preferences won’t have your demonstrated proclivities toward the badpolitithougtspeech disfavored by the mob, and our self-appointed betters…thus ensuring the only real diversity that is “approved”… impervious to the irony that if it meets with such approval, it isn’t really an expression of diversity at all.

Being a citizen, rather than a subject, means that you will be exposed to things you do not like.  It means hearing things you don’t like hearing.  And it means that you can evaluate for yourself the merit of the ideas and speech that you are exposed to.  This is worthwhile, if only because you don’t surrender the sovereignty over your own conscience to others and their own subjective ideas about what is worthy of expression…which any citizen knows is dangerous, because sooner or later, YOU will be on the wrong side of what that 50%+1 deems worthy.  This is why the rule of law matters, and why we are all diminished when we engage in de facto exceptions.

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An expectation of accountability is RACIST.

An expectation of responsibility is RACIST.

Opposition to the policies and ideals of a “person of color” is RACIST.

None of these things is true, and yet each of them is the reality of discourse today.

We are surrounded by shrinking violets, who have successfully peddled the idea that saying the wrong thing makes the speaker “Worse than HITLER!”.  These delicate flowers pretend that they have elevated discourse by creating a de facto right not be offended, when in actuality, they have simply created a means to shut down any discourse they don’t like by invoking the horror of being offended.  Like suckers, the rest of us play along, even in the face of the fact that this “right” is only available to some people, and to those who decide that it is necessary to be offended on behalf of members of these select groups.  You can find this practice applied to virtually anything, but no where is this standard most glaringly hypocritical than the dreaded “N-WORD”.

I make my living with words.  I am acutely aware of why speech matters, and why fettering what was meant to be UNfettered is a bad idea.  Because of this, I feel like an ass even saying “the N-Word”.  It’s stupid.  It could be lifted from the pages of Harry Potter, and the fear that caused so many to refer to the Villain as “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.”  And the irony of how the “offense” of the word, and how it causes the word to not be said actually infuses the word with even MORE power in the event the wrong person should say it isn’t lost on me.

I don’t like what society’s almost reverent circumvention of this word says about us.  While it’s sure to cause fainting spells, an epidemic of the vapors, and, in some quarters, OUTRAGE!!!111!!!Eleventy!! of the finest water, I find the general deference and genuflection to be paternalistic, and condescending to those that these linguistic gymnastics are supposed to “protect”.  And on the other hand, I find those who are quickest to express their OUTRAGE!!!11!! do so not out of and deep and abiding wound to their very existence, but because it gives them power.

And so I have been watching the discussions this week regarding the NFL’s proposal to punish the utterance of “the N-Word” with a penalty and a loss of yardage with some amusement.  After all, everyone knows that the problem isn’t because the word is uttered by evil white racists, but because black players toss it around with impunity.  So when communications major and Seattle Cornerback Richard Sherman spoke his mind on the proposal, I paid it some attention.

“It’s an atrocious idea,” Sherman, theSeattle Seahawks‘ star cornerback, told the website. “It’s almost racist to me. It’s weird they’re targeting one specific word. Why wouldn’t all curse words be banned then?”

Now I’m just spitballing here, but I think it’s a safe bet that Sherm would be bristling with objections if a white player said it, which means that I have to ask, “Why is it racist if HE can’t say it?”  Seriously.   Language belongs to everyone, or it belongs to no one.  And if we accept the premise that the wrong person uttering a specific word is an unforgivable sin that justifies outrage, the end of the speaker’s career, and the expectation of a public penance that must be done regardless of the fact that the offender will ALWAYS be remembered for it, while at the same time those who are “injured” by it are unharmed by their own reckless abandon in using this same dreaded word with each other, then we are selling ourselves short.

The reaction to THIS word, more than any other, causes an almost reflexive response in people, and I think this has contributed more to the concept of Political Correctness than any other thing that a person can say.  Once gasps and winces (or sputtering indignance)  became the expected reaction to this word, it threw the door open to every other abuse perpetrated with the underlying intent of stifling or preventing discourse.

I know this goes against the conventional wisdom, which says that we make a more civil society by making this word taboo for some, and that it should be aggressively enforced, to the degree that those who can’t say it MUST condemn others who can’t say it, but do, but this approach PERPETUATES racism.  It makes it ok for white people to assume that black people cannot deal with hearing a WORD.  Spare me the drama about all the “baggage” and “connotations” that come with it.  I’m not buying it.  If you let a WORD hold you back, if you let a WORD define you, and your potential and your worth, then it is YOU who is empowering the one who speaks it.  It is YOU who is giving your consent to have your dignity taken from you.  But the fact is, in America today, it allows the recipient a tremendous degree of power as well.  If you can’t defend your positions, invoke racism.  If someone expresses a view you don’t like, invoke racism.  If someone opposes what you have to say, invoke racism.  If you want to deflect attention from something, invoke racism.

As long as we persist in this madness, the “honest conversation” that Eric Holder chided us about simply isn’t possible…but then, he knew that.

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