The pushback must be working because the cockroaches are scrambling for cover:
When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?
If it weren’t for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all.
I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.
If that doesn’t work, what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.
The answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not “make them go away forever.” We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. The only time I hear him is when I’m at a stoplight next to a pickup truck.
When the lady at Costco gives you a free sample of its new ham pudding and you don’t like it, you spit it into a napkin and keep shopping. You don’t declare a holy war on ham.
When the lady at Costco gives me a free sample that is contaminated with cockroach feces and it makes me sick to my stomach, I reserve the right to complain to management and the health department and if need be I might even file a lawsuit.
Let’s get a couple things straight. Bill Maher is not a comedian. Comedians are funny. There is nothing funny about calling women c*nts and twats. Maher is a shock jock. His schtick depends on being outrageous and offensive. It’s humor for the hate-filled.
Yes, there is a lot of posturing and fauxraging out there. Both sides look for excuses to pretend to be offended. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t valid reasons to get upset.
Both Maher and Rush Limbaugh are currently under fire for using misogynist epithets in referring to certain women. Both of them have long histories of doing similar things. These epithets are reserved for women on the “other side”. Maher goes after conservative women. Rush goes after liberal women. They both survive because of tribalism.
But if one or both of them were fired today they would be replaced tomorrow. That’s why I am less interested in focusing on these two obnoxious personalities than I am in changing the discourse.
The only epithet in the English language comparable to “c*nt” is “n*gger.” It may surprise you to learn that c*nt is older by nearly 200 years. One is the product of the patriarchy and the other is a product of slavery and Jim Crow racism. Both terms serve the purpose of designating sub-human status upon the people to whom they refer.
There is no doubt that if Rush Limbaugh publicly called President Obama a n*gger his broadcasting career would be over. No apology would suffice. The Republican party would abandon him to his well-deserved fate. But if Bill Maher referred to Justice Thomas, Condi Rice or some other black Republican using the same term he would be retired too.
That’s because we as a society have decided that the word “n*gger” is so toxic that it has no place in public discourse other than academic discussions. A number of synonyms for that word are also taboo.
So why can’t we agree to do the same with sexist epithets?
As the say in AA, “progress not perfection” is the goal. We won’t make the patriarchy go away overnight. But banning misogynist epithets is a doable goal. These words serve no good purpose. It’s hate speech that we would be better off without.
I’m not talking about government action. The first amendment protects misogynists as well as racists. But peer pressure is powerful. When I was a kid it was still socially acceptable to be openly racist in some parts of this country. That has changed.
Let’s work to make it socially unacceptable to be misogynist.