Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Fear of Words
As a society we have come far in dealing with the truth. Concepts and behaviors that in past years were dealt with allegorically or in whispers behind closed doors now occupy prime time and space in the media. Racism is one of these. There is still covert racism today but not much that is overt, except directed at whites by minorities or minority to minority. (My nigga, anyone?) Michael Richards' tirade was an example of covert prejudice brimming to the surface. Or was it? Who can judge what is really racist? Is it OK for blacks to make fun of whites just because blacks are a minority? Are radical Muslims right in being outraged over perceived injustices to their religion while they kill innocent people? Should Hispanics new to this country have to learn English? A popular column in newspapers today is called "Ask a Mexican" and uses what some consider to be racist terms to comically explain cultural differences between Hispanics and Anglos. It is also very popular with many Hispanic readers. How could that be? Is it because they have a cultural knack for wading through the bullshit and getting to the truth that we in America have not mastered? I believe true racism is for God to decide. What you say or joke about is not necessarily what is truly in your heart. All of us at one time or another have laughed at a "racist" joke or cursed under our breath about somebody "different." The difference is that under PC rules only minorities are allowed to say what is on their minds. What about the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who of late has become involved in the "Kramer" scandal? He has said there should be a boycott of the new Seinfeld DVD box set. Yeah, let's punish the whole cast of the show for the comments of one. Jackson made a public comment years ago about New York, home to many Jews, being "Hymietown!" That's the pot calling the kettle black! See the irony and hypocracy here? Does he have any credibility left to judge someone else about prejudice? Only if it is acknowledged that it is normal to be suspicious of those who are not like you in appearance or customs. Everyone judges on outward appearance to a degree. What needs to be done is internal in every one of us. There will always be those who are unenlightened and will strive to offend. It is how we react to offense that shapes us as a society. "Shock jock" Howard Stern, currently on satellite radio, does a show with graphic sexual and racial content many find offensive. But, he has a large black following. Why? Maybe because by exposing the hypocracy and ignorance the enlightened truth comes through. One of Stern's funniest bits is a real KKK Grand Wizard who says whatever he wants, including liberal use of the word"nigger." The man is an obvious racist, but by Stern granting him an uncensored platform, he only manages to come off like a fool. We laugh at him, not with him. Like Archie Bunker in "All in the Family" thirty years ago. I don't think in today's climate that show would have a chance now. Words have meaning, yes. Diamonds and gold have worth. But it is a man-made value we assign to them based on supply and demand. Cut off the supply and value escalates. Flood the market and price plummets. If no one was offended by certain words and ideas anymore, their value would drop. We could then concentrate on what is really important. Love and our fellow man.