Our American universities have forfeited their role as bastions of rigorous debate on the spectrum of ideas from conservative to liberal to radical. Instead, they have undertaken a mission of protecting students from conservative ideas and speech that might offend them, providing a “safe place” where the delicate snowflakes can reinforce their pre-conceived notions. And this absurd practice is spreading.
So, since some say I am an out-of-touch dinosaur and you could be a disciple of this modern art of sensitivity, you might want to scramble to your safe place since my words could offend you. But if you are a reasonably normal adult, read on.
Two recent events hold up a mirror begging us to look at ourselves. First is the next TV production of the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars. Personally, I won’t waste my time watching that orgy of self-congratulation among vastly overpaid and pampered actors. I get a bit nauseated knowing these narcissists spend enough on their one-night look-at-me outfit to rescue a deserving family from poverty, but that’s my residual liberal revealing itself.
Even though I won’t watch, I couldn’t help noticing the stupid reaction when the Academy selected Kevin Hart to host the show, whereupon those who live their life spring-loaded to be offended went to work.
Hart is a likable comedian with a quick wit, both suitable characteristics to host that show. But the sensitivity police, like Keystone Cops trained by the Spanish Inquisition, launched a firestorm of protest over things Hart said that offended gays in a stand-up routine eight years ago. And so, under heavy pressure from the Oscar weenies, Hart bowed out of hosting even though it would have boosted his career, and he iced the cake with a public apology to the LGBT community.
Too bad. If Hart had asked me, I would have advised he man up to tell them all to kiss him in the unmentionable spot of their choice because there is more than one thing here competing for the big STUPID sign.
He’s a comedian, for Pete’s sake. He pokes fun at people for a living, so he uses differences, weaknesses and stereotypes for easy shots at his subject to get a laugh. And hosting the Oscars is all about poking fun at easy targets, especially conservative targets, for the entertainment of a thousand or so gathered Hollywood celebrities, many best known for pushing the envelope themselves with profane and contemptible behavior to set dreadful examples that lure our children away from the principled strong character we try to teach them.
The Hollywood machine and its celebrated actor personalities, along with other liberals, are the same ones who applaud the gutter values of rap music, with lyrics that promote foul thug street culture to our youth. And the bedwetters’ knickers are in a twist over something non-PC Kevin Hart said in his comedy act eight years ago?
Actually, I do get the hypocrisy here. If Hart had said unspeakable things about Jesus Christ, it wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. But his offense was to swim upstream, albeit only for a moment and long ago, against the withering tide of the universally enforced new American religion, the LGBT agenda.
The controversy over Hart hosting the Oscars is, of course, much about nothing. But like countless other examples of PC run amok, this one is another warning on the disgraceful values permeating the world of publicity and media as they enable and sometimes lead the “social justice” parade.
The second example is the recent flap over the 1950s winter song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” made famous by singer Dean Martin. The song is a back and forth between a man and a woman, him trying to talk her into staying for the evening, making many offers and arguments dotted with “… but baby, it’s cold outside!” while she says no, she has to go, her mother will worry, he tries to talk her into having a drink, etc.
The latest “me-too” movement has prompted some people to be offended at the lyrics of this old song, and some radio stations have banned it. I guess a man trying one angle after another to romance a woman is just too over the top these days.
PC lunacy abounds. On the contest between just these two examples for the big STUPID sign, I call it a tie.
Let me tell you how I think about the modern American fad of being easily offended. I have two daughters born in and adopted from China. Here’s what I tell them.
If you’re offended, you’re weak.
In our progressive world of political correctness, the speech police screen all we say to find reasons this group or that should be offended. Don’t play their game.
Don’t put yourself in any hyphenated group for identity politics. Don’t think of yourself as Asian-American; you are an American citizen who happened to be born in China, your ethnicity is Asian. But you are an individual, not a group member.
Being offended is a misguided way of insisting that others conform to your expectations of what they are permitted to say. I trust you would not limit freedom of speech, even for a dummy inclined to insult you.
Most important, being offended is ceding to the dummy the power to determine how you feel about yourself. Don’t give them that control.
Everybody gets picked on, whether black, white, brown, red or yellow, whether Asian, African, European or Hispanic. If a dummy doesn’t have a reason to pick on you, he can invent something. But don’t get offended or run from them, stand up to them.
A dummy might insinuate by stereotype that since you are Asian you must be good in math, a lousy driver and eat a lot of rice. Or they might make fun of your slanted eyes or pug nose. You get to choose how that makes you feel. If you are offended, you just granted to the dummy the power to make you feel that way.
Be stronger than that, take how you feel about yourself from within, where you know who and what you are. You can call them out as the dummy they are if you wish, but don’t give them your time and energy, and never give them control over your emotions.
Don’t be offended; it only advertises your weakness.
Now I need to find my own copy of Dean Martin singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” before the dummies make it disappear, like someone declared a non-person and purged from all memory in the old Soviet Union.
[Terry Garlock occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]