Category Archives: Politically Incorrect

Offensive

A while back I had a key break while at my day job. Not a big deal. Go to management and have it replaced. I was told it would be ready the next day. Easily acceptable. The following day I walked into the front office, approached the member of management necessary with a very simple request: “Do you have the key ready yet?”

Her response utterly confused me. “And?” When I didn’t respond she went on. “And ‘please’.”

She was demanding a courtesy from me. And yet, in all the time we had worked together, that word had never passed her lips. At least, not in my hearing range. Was she trying to remind me subtly that she was management and I was figuratively beneath her, owing her courtesy? Or was it something not quite so personal, a cry for respect that a lot of people seem to feel as the years mount up behind them? Or had some disaster fractured her ego and it was demanding to be soothed. While all of these thoughts passed through my head that writer part of my mind was pondering the question of who was ruder, the person who failed to offer courtesy or the person demanding it.

I got the replacement key and went on my way. But it did get me to thinking. What’s happened to courtesy these days? I can’t recall the last time someone said “please” to me. “Thank you” is still out there, but it’s getting rarer all the time. I’d swear a clerk was totally surprised when, after getting my change, I said “have a nice day”.
The saying goes “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Now the eighties and nineties children are growing up. Kids who’ve heard repeatedly, “don’t spank the youngsters, you’ll crush their egos”. “Follow your dreams, they’re more real than reality.” “There are people who can defend you from your parents.” Minds that absorbed through countless cartoons, movies, and video games that it was possible for them to change the world.

Back when I was young, if you didn’t like some- one or place, you steered clear of it. It was that simple. When I entered the work force the lesson was clear – you put up with the people who’d been there longer because they knew their business and they were training you to do the job right. You’d get your turn, assuming you could keep up the pace. They had to retire sometime. And eventually I learned a very simple lesson – something only bothers me if I let it. Otherwise it’s all so much noise.

But times have changed. People wear their hearts on their sleeves where that purple dinosaur says they should be, exposed and waiting for someone to step on them. And when someone does they’ll do everything in their power to change their little corner of the world. Whether it’s a lawsuit, complaining to, or even complaining about management, the evil villain will be put down, preferably non-violently. (Everybody knows violence is politically incorrect. Manipulation is okay, violence bad. Unless you happen to be the government, and then it’s not really violence or a war, but a police action.)

The possibility of litigation has some companies so scared they’re afraid to tell their employees to get to work. And yet, with schools teaching to a minimum standard, young workers are expecting more guidelines than ever. Granted those naive individuals goal is do the bare minimum necessary to meet those rules.

And yes ladies, let’s not forget about the search for the sensitive man. Feel better that he’s available. Or more accurately children wearing adult bodies are everywhere waiting to be offended by a passing comment.

At home we can let our tongues wag, and our pants hang down. We can do whatever we like, save that it doesn’t do direct harm. But when we leave our homes there’s a subtler courtesy than “Please” and “Thank you”, one that’s a necessity if people are to get along. It’s what I’ve also thought of as “shared space courtesy”. It’s a good habit for the workplace, or walking down the street. It’s that desire not to do anything to terribly offensive, lest you put a damper on someone else’s day.  And there’s the gray area in this particular topic. What’s “too offensive”?

Transgender is the buzzing topic right now. Let’s use that for an example. Why someone would want to dress up as, or become the opposite sex, has me totally baffled. But here’s the bottom line – nobody is asking me to do it. And I’m not about to tell someone else they shouldn’t do it because it causes no harm, except maybe a bit of confusion. It might make me a bit uncomfortable when I try to explain to my grandchildren, but I’ve been in uncomfortable situations before.

Are there some things that should offend everyone? Certainly, things like anything BDSM. Oh, wait. Men and women of a certain caliber happen to enjoy this. So who am I to tell them they shouldn’t practice these things? And that is really what it boils down to. Offensive generally means “you’re not doing things my way therefore you’re doing wrong”. As an even more generalized statement offensive often equates to confusion, or misunderstanding.

If that’s too complicated, let me explain it like this – if you expect the world to always do things your way, you’re in for a lot of disappointment.

Friends

Back in the days when I was young, friends were the people who told me the truth. They listened to my drama, and then they told me where I screwed up. Of course the other person was the biggest wrongdoer, but push comes to shove they were in my corner no matter if I was right or not. And in return for this magnificent gift, I was there for them.

But these days, as I talk to various people, it seems like friends are “yes (wo)men”. Those people who simply agree no matter what. And more often than not are nowhere to be seen when push comes to shove.

God forbid one of their friends might actually suggest that they might have strayed a bit too close to the edge. Or *gasp* might even suggest they had crossed a line and been in the wrong. Or that there might be another way of looking at things. And if somebody says it out loud, why that’s grounds for cutting the “friend” completely out of their life.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never had many friends. I’m not a “yes man”. I’ll never agree with anything absolutely. And I do have a bad habit of asking people “What’s your take away from this, what did you learn? Could it have been prevented?” I’ve never needed my ego massaged, but occasionally I have needed a reality check.

The short version of all that is people, it seems to me, don’t want friends, they want sycophants. And what’s even worse is they want their minions to always be right, to be utterly perfect, even if they themselves do get to make the occasional mistake. And that leaves me out yet again. I’ve never been perfect, don’t plan on starting now. Look at what happened to the last perfect guy. (For those who don’t get the joke, his initials are J.C.)

Personally, I blame Hollywood for most of it. After all, we’re the stars of our lives, right? We should come and go as we please, and get to do what we want. It’ll all work out in the end, right? It always does on the screen.

When I outlined this blog to a friend he suggested it’s due to the Politically Correct movement standard about protecting feelings. Of course, protecting feelings also means not teaching people, or asking them to grow up. Then we started sharing horror stories about “safe places” on college campuses and “time out” cards in boot camp. If you don’t understand why this is absurd, give it twenty years when we have emotional ten year olds on the highway. Or military commanders who want a time out.

But all hope isn’t lost. On the Words from a Bitch Facebook page I found this:

Appreciate your rude/blunt friend … They’re always the realist.

Is the War of the Sexs Dead?

This is the actual dialog from a Microsoft commercial that (as far as I know) aired August 2015.

 

Who knows?

One of these kids might just be the one.

The one to find a cure.

To clean the oceans.

Lead a country.

Bring water to their village.

Write the next masterpiece.

Or open a school.

Explore a new planet.

Or be the next Davinci.

It may not be obvious, but one of these kids are going to change the world.

We don’t know who it is.

We just need to make sure…

She has what she needs.

Welcome to Windows 10.

The future starts now…

For all of us.

As a side note to Microsoft—get your English correct. You’re talking about a single child changing the world. Therefore the correct statement is “but one of these kids is going to change the world.” But what the hell. Why should programmers making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year worry about correct grammar.

It’s that fourth line from the bottom that really caught my attention. It comes at a point that ninety percent of adults have already tuned out the message. It is only a commercial, after all. But in that one sentence it managed to cut out over half the population in everything that came before. It manages to assure the world that the next person to change the world will be a female. In fairness, it might be. It might not, too.

It can be argued this commercial was set up this way because most ads are aimed at females. Over eighty percent, in fact. That’s because, in most households, it’s left to the woman to work out the budgetary requirements of the home. Aside from a few man-toys a male doesn’t really care where the money goes so long as the bills get paid on time and there are no major bumps.

Even our entertainment is starting to cater to the female. As little as twenty years ago the lead in a film was almost universally male. And then writers realized that a male/female joint lead attracted a much wider audience. And today, how many films have a female lead with a male co-star? What will it be like in another twenty years? Will the pendulum continue to swing, or will it come back the other way?

There was a time when the War of the Sexes was centered directly on simple issues like equal rights. But then again, a woman once told me that she wanted to be paid the same, have the same opportunities, responsibilities, etc. And that I am all for. But when she went on to say that she still wanted men to hold the door and put her up on a pedestal, I started to wonder if what she wanted was equal rights, or a new brand of servant.

Don’t get me wrong there. I, for one, would love to find some wealthy woman who’s willing to go off to work and leave me at home. I would gladly clean house, go grocery shopping, take care of the kids and write in my free time if it meant not being in the work force. (Then again, as a general rule, I’m not real fond of people as a whole.)

In fact, some experts are claiming that the Sex Wars are over. Many sociological groups are taking huge steps in the right directions. Right now there are still a vast number of shortfalls, but some people are saying that in as little as fifty years the winner will be clear. Why fifty years? Because the snowball is rolling, and once started it’s going to be hard to stop.

Some SF writers feel strongly about that point. They tend to believe that any technologically advanced civilization must be a matriarchy. The reasons vary but, in general, it comes down to women being more social and less inclined to a club. I’ll agree there. Women don’t beat an enemy into submission. They tend to go for poison.

So, is the War of the Sexes over? It is for my generation. They’ve figured out they need each other. But the funny thing about that, there’s a whole new generation right behind mine who apparently has to figure it out all over again.

 

Politically Incorrect

The PC community and I go way back. I’ve simply never understood how changing the name of something could possibly make it anything other than what it already is. It’s almost like they’re saying the Committee for Pallid Ascendancy is somehow better than the Klu Klux Klan. Or being Housing Challenged is in some way less horrible than being homeless.

True, these terms do fall gentler on the ear, but is that really a good thing. The PC terms are supposed to strip away all of the prior inferences of the older, uglier terms. Unfortunately whitewashing a broken fence doesn’t repair the damage done. Especially if the old color will do.

Don’t get me wrong. Back in its younger days PC had a valid point – people should be aware of the subtext of the words they’re using. Probably one of the easiest and most obvious examples is blacks.

(Oh, wait. That’s technically not the PC term anymore. It’s Afro-American. But do yourself a favor, go ask a black guy what he thinks about that term. I imagine they’ll tell you the same thing a lot of black people have told me… which really isn’t repeatable here. Suffice it to say generally they’re not real impressed with the term.)

And just for the record I’m not Italian American, or Dutch American. Or any variation thereof. I’m American, born on American soil, no other country having a claim on my genes, mental state or property. You could even say I’m a native American, but we’ll get to that in a moment.)

I’ll admit I grew up using a variation on the term negro. I thought it was a slang term for black people. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized it was an insult. And promptly quit using the term, along with a bunch of other words for various nationalities. That’s PC at its best.

But where PC gets carried away is assigning terms that aren’t acceptable to their assignees. Or asking people to change things when, at the time of their origins, the people involved dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s.

I personally hope teams like the Fighting Chiefs and Red Sox never change their names. At the time those teams were created the people sponsoring them went to the appropriate sources and asked them What do you guys think? And those sources gave them a thumbs up, and agreed one hundred percent. We may not like what our forefathers did, but we should have the courage to live with it. After all, we’re not going to ask Toys For Tots to change their logo when tots is no long a PC term.

Another good example is Native American. Do you know who the biggest detractor of the term is? The one it’s being applied to. American Indians don’t like the term… kind of the way blacks didn’t like the variation on negro. But we’re going to give it to them anyway? Whether they like it or not? Doesn’t that seem a little… thoughtless?

As for me, I guess I’ll have to remain politically incorrect.