Did You Hear The One About The . . .
I know it is very “unliberal” of me, but I’m sick unto death with political correctness. If we do not find our sense of humor in this nation soon, we will descend into an even deeper pit of acrimony.
I am aware from my own miserable experiences as a child who was called a queer—when I didn’t even know what that was—that it is not fun to be taunted on the school playground. But I also remember what we were told time and time again by the adults of our world: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I know from those experiences that words did, indeed, hurt me, but that was as a child. Now, I’m all grown up and have grown some thicker skin. The real truth of the matter is that name calling is a reflection, not on the person being taunted, but on the idiot who is delivering the taunt. It tells us that the person is a hateful bigot, but it doesn’t really tell us if what they are shouting is true or not.
My point today is that we really, really need to get over it. There is something different about every one of us, and folks are bound to notice. I’m not only gay; I’m also old, skinny, long-haired, and a liberal Democrat. I have a face that is too small for my nose, my neck is long and I hang around the house and yard dressed like a slob. A couple of weeks ago, after our telephone and internet service had been down for four days due to some wiring problem, my mother-in-law dispatched the law out to find out if we were okay. When the deputy from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office knocked on the door, I was in all my finery: rumpled tee-shirt, old-style gym shorts, flip-flops, unshaven and without my biker’s ponytail—leaving my hair in its natural frizzed-out wizard-look glory. He looked me up and down with great disdain.
I’m sure he thought I was some sort of dope-smoking hippy or crack-cooking miscreant. His lingering stare from my hair to my feet was most uncomfortable, and led me to a small bout of anger directed at my mother-in-law for sending him here in the first place. But later in the day I had to laugh at the scene as I played it over in my head. “I’ll bet that never happened to June Cleaver,” I thought. Of course not, she was the vision of perfection 24 hours a day, starched, coifed and bejeweled. Like it or not, the days of old June are gone forever, and we need to realize that. We also need to realize that we are all in line for some criticism, deserved or not, from our fellow men. Like it or not, we’re all different. Thank God for that.
But today, in a media-driven society where obsession is the flavor of every day, every disparaging word uttered by anyone considered newsworthy is grounds for a two- to four-day run of criticism and “expert” analysis. Everyone is outraged! Everyone is sanctimonious in their criticism of the culprit and acrimoniously demanding apologies and contrition. Come on, now. Who among us can truly step forward and cast that stone. Be honest, now. Don’t you at least notice the “difference” of that person that cuts you off in traffic, or grabs the last seat on the bus or train by hurrying in front of you? If you can say that neither of these things apply to you, please go straight to the Vatican and pick up your sainthood.
During the summer months there was an animated comedy show on ABC called The Goode Family. I loved it; Mrs. Jack, on the other hand, squirmed in her chair and chafed at the humor it poked at liberalism. If you missed it, I hope you can somehow find a way to see it, because to me it really captured a glimpse into the world we have come to. The family, the Goodes, were dedicated to living the standards of environmental, organic, vegetarian and all-around thoughtfulness that we on the Left hold dear.
But the difficulties they encountered were as hilarious as they were real. There was the boss’s wife, who was one of those pseudo-liberals we all know who shop at Whole Foods Market and continuously talk, talk, talk about their dedication to the greenness of the environment, but do absolutely nothing to help except buy expensive groceries as a status symbol.
But there was another character in this little tome that made me laugh until my sides were splitting: the family dog. Mrs. Goode was determined to keep her dog, a big mutt, politically correct by feeding it only vegetarian dog food. The poor thing was reduced to chasing down the neighborhood squirrels and other unsuspecting prey to fulfill its protein cravings. But all in all it showed the difficulty encountered by everyday people trying to live up to the lofty standards being set for us. But it was funny, and we on the Left need to be able to have a sense of humor about ourselves.
One of my favorite stand-up comedians is Carlos Mencia. He is the most politically incorrect performer I have ever seen in my life. But he pokes fun at everyone equally. Nobody is excluded from his sharp wit—gays, blacks, arabs, mentally challenged and, yes, even his own ethnic group, which he refers to as “beaners.” In every show, Carlos, points out in the most hilarious way how funny everybody in America is to everybody else, and to themselves. His audience is always a cross-section of the American melting pot, and everybody is laughing, even the butts of his jokes.
He tells a story about a mentally challenged fan one day coming up to him after his show and asking, “Why do you leave us out? Don’t you like us?” As Mencia tells the story, the young man went on to say, “We do funny things, too, and we laugh at ourselves like everybody else. If you don’t make fun of us like everybody else, you’re being prejudiced against us.” What a thought!
Isn’t it just as dishonest to hide what you think about others in front of them as it is to say what’s on your mind? When we do this, that difference simmers underneath, disallowed its rightful expression, until it can boil over into a torrent of hate and resentment that can lead to violence. Then words have literally been replaced by sticks and stones.
politically correctadj. Abbr. PC1. Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.2. Being or perceived as being overconcerned with such change, often to the exclusion of other matters.
So the walls of the two social fortresses in America grow higher and thicker by the day and even run through the family gatherings we are all about to “enjoy” in the next few months. Each family has its own. Maybe there are openly gay members of a family, or mixed-racial marriages and children. My family has both, and the tightrope is tight indeed.
I’m not advocating hateful verbal behavior against one another, but I think we have reached a point where our ability to be civil with those who disagree with us is being hampered by our guilt around political incorrectness. And those who would stir the pot of hatefulness in our nation, like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly, are making a load of money by fanning those smoldering embers. And, of course, they are trying to turn the whole thing around to where any criticism of conservatives is being labeled as bigoted, racial prejudice.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can all grow up and start acting like grownups. If you want to call me a “faggot” or “queer” or whatever, just shout it. I’m a big man now and can take it. I would much rather you do that than to have you express your frustration by taking out your rifle and shooting into the front of a gay bar as you pass by, killing or hurting me or one of my friends who are just trying to have a nice evening out. And if you choose to shout “faggot” or “queer” out your car window as you drive by on the street, I will smile to myself and realize that you have the problem, not me. I will also choose to realize that your labeling me as something that I am, maybe not in those words, is nothing for me to feel shame about. I am gay. So what, “breeder”! Oh, yes, we have names for you, too. Doesn’t that make you want to run home and tell your mommy on me? Probably not so much. Me, neither.
Now there is one place I will say this kind of behavior should be discouraged: the schoolyard. But good luck with that. We all know the notoriously mean nature of kids. Like it or not, they are just little copies of us. They repeat and act out everything they see and hear adults do, so we have nobody but ourselves to blame for their behavior. So I would hate to see this issue become one of those “no tolerance policy” things for children. It only serves to send them back home to their parents who will teach them more of the same because now they are really mad at whatever group is “offended.” Instead, these incidents would best be used as teaching moments by our educators. And if parents don’t like teachers telling their children to be nice to each other, they can always establish a “private hate academy” to teach their “values.” But I’m against vouchers for those schools.
”]But since the likelihood of kids stopping the time-honored tradition of taunting their classmates about every little thing that makes them different is remote, it is probably best to return to the old teaching on the issue: sticks and stones. And as for the rest of us—you know, the “grown-ups”—it’s time for us to start acting like grown-ups and be thoughtful about what we say about others, realize who the person with the problem is, and to “grow some skin.” If you don’t ever think you are funny, find a therapist. Everybody is funny! Gay people are funny, and beauty queens are funny. Even I am funny.
I am Jack, and I AM WHO I AM.
With Liberty and Justice for All!