Monday, July 31, 2006

Epithet Evolution

Wikipedia says that Sensitivity Training is a form of training that claims to make people:
  • more aware of their own prejudices and
  • more sensitive to others.

I thought to myself, "How can I write this without someone saying I'm biased against something?"

I can't. There is no way I could write about bias and sensitivities and be so vague and without an example that someone, somewhere wouldn't be guaranteed to call me "insensitive" or some other worse names. Because I don't share the same views, opinions or experiences, because I have formed my own opinion and because it disagrees with someone . . . I'm the bad guy and need to take sensitivity training. So, of course, I'll welcome your comments.

I was joking with some friends of mine and apparently shocked and dismayed another commuter who was waiting to deboard. As the door opened she said to me "You need sensitivity training!" then dashed off the train. It was like a drive-by shooting. Zing!

I wasn't talking to her. She doesn't know me or anything about me. She did not know my philosophy or my intent. Yet she misconstrues a light-hearted conversation between friends as a bigoted view of a group of people.

I'm gay Lady. I was making joking, gay comments. It's like obese people making light of their weight.

Now, why is it that she doesn't need "Desensitivity" training? I might even need to take the class with her.

That same week, my friend, Paul, (who is straight but knows a LOT of show tune lyrics) used the term Ghey (pronounced 'gay') when talking about his motorcycle. "I'm not going to put a windscreen on my bike 'cause that would look ghey." He later made frilly hand gestures and a falsetto voice to further clarify the impact of the windscreen. So, in context, I think I got his meaning. He noticed my raised eyebrows and he explained to me that it wasn't gay, it was g-H-e-y. Like leet speak.

The Urban Dictionary has this to say. Ghey: Lame. An excuse for using the term "Gay" in a negative way, without seeming to be offensive. However, changing the spelling of the word doesn't change how offensive it can still be to homosexuals.

So, I started to use Pahl as a synonym for stupid or ignorant. "That's so pahl." (Pronounced 'paul') When I noticed his raised eyebrow, I explained, "It's okay, it's spelled p-a-H-l."

Yes, I'll admit, I was a little put off by him using the term 'ghey' as a derogatory. So now I'm really divided. Give that man freedom of expression and let him say 'ghey' or even 'gay' as a pejorative. But allow others the freedom of expression to say something too. Work to not be offended.

Any freedom, both physical and of expression, is hampered by idiots. Because idiots chiseled out pieces of Stonehenge as souveniers, visitors are now prevented from walking within the structure. Because bigoted people adopted the svastika or the southern cross as their banner, the reputations of both symbols are ruined. Because someone spills hot coffee on their lap - there are disclaimers and common sense warnings on everything. And because some idiot uses a term offensively, that term becomes taboo.

I have another friend who would not read the original 1936 Mary Poppins (quite different from the movie) to a child because it has the word picaninny.

Gays can't say breeder ( ). Heterosexuals can't say fag. (From the late sixteenth century, meaning an old, unpleasant woman.)

Carlos Mencia can say beaner. Dave Chappelle can say nigger. (From the Latin Niger, meaning black.)

Even in context, no one can say picaninny (from the Portuguese pequenino, meaning little) and Mitt Romney can't say tar baby (a sticky situation, a doll made of tar and turpentine).

I'm not saying that one should throw around racial slurs or bigoted epithets willy-nilly. Come on, be real. Practice consideration of the feelings of others and steer clear of stereotyping generalizations. I am saying, however, get some desensitivity training before no one is allowed to say anything.

It's not the word that should bother you. It's the contextual disdain, disrespect or poor and uninformed view that is behind the word. That is so very pahl.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What Women Want

Chivalry IS dead. You hear the mourning cries all over the country that chivalry has passed on. Well, not so much passed on as brutally murdered. And, what better way to divert suspicion as to be the one to cry the loudest at its passing. It's one or the other ladies. Do you want chivalry or do you want equality?

Please, make no mistake. -- I am in complete support of equality for women! But you're giving men mixed signals. It is my contention that to aid in the support of women's equality, the males of our race are exempted from holding doors, offering seats, killing spiders and feats of strength.

So, why do men get dirty looks when they are first into an elevator, remain seated in a crowded subway or buy just their own movie ticket? What justifies the guilt-laying? We're helping your cause!

Many times a day, I witness the pilgrimage of health-conscious, female coworkers from cubicle to cooler. It's a modern-day version of the ewers-on-the-head walk through the village from hut to well because each of these pilgrims keeps a water bottle or jug at their desk to sip throughout the day.

One morning at the end of their trek, two women arrived to find that the well had run dry. They took it upon themselves to rectify the situation and began another journey in search of a man to replace the jug.

I shocked them by refusing. "But we're thirsty!" they whined. So I gave them directions to the water fountain, two sinks, the bathroom, a restaurant and the convenience store in the lobby. And in return for all of my assistance I got dirty looks of disbelief and angry muttering.

There are no good arguments supporting this expectation of male to female deference.

Because you're a man.
-How is that a reason?
Because men are stronger.
-That's a stereotype.
Because YOU'RE so big and strong.
-Flattery cannot sway me to carry your things, give you my seat or buy you dinner.
I would really appreciate it.
-Hey, now you're talkin'. . . How will this appreciation be displayed?
Well, how about we . . . [Nod, nod, wink, wink]
-I'm gay.
Ooooo, Fine! Five bucks?
-Make it twenty and it's yours.

I wonder who changes the water jugs at the National Organization for Women.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Killing Kittens

I have some friends who can't help but hit the forward button to everyone in their e-mail address book everytime they get the cutesy e-mails of fluffy kittens or "A Prayer for You."

I finally drafted this e-mail and hit "Reply All" to their most recent posts - sending the word to just about 100 strangers.

Dear Group E-mail sender,

  • Regarding E-hugs, I prefer them in person with people I know and not a group-hug shared with the cold and electronic addresses in your Cc line.
  • The E-Prayer, E-Angel or E-Jesus that you send eventually ends up in my E-Trash. I then get the option to "Delete Jesus Forever? [Yes] [No]" Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. Why would you do that to Jesus?
  • When forwarding pictures of adorable puppies and kittens please do not forget to include the recipes.
  • Let me spoil it for you. That promise of a "really cool thing" that happens to your screen after you forward an e-mail to ten people? -- you're disappointed,
    3 people get pissed off,
    3 people deleted it without reading it,
    2 people have your address blocked from sending them e-mails,
    1 address is undeliverable, and
    1 idiot forwards it to 10 more people. Cool, huh?
  • I have automatic withholding from every paycheck, with a final rendering no later than April 15th each year and do not need to be reminded to "support our troops."
  • You said if you don't get that [e-mail wish] back from me you'll "know I'm not your friend." So why do you keep sending them? I thought I was being clear.
  • If you're worried about God being removed from politics and schools, do not fear. Have faith that she is where she pleases.
  • The stories of serendipity and random acts of kindness taste great, but are less filling than a quasi-cash deposit to my pay-pal account. ( It's so easy, Sign up for a PayPal account at Click the Send Money tab, Enter an amount, and the recipient's address )
  • I can pretty much guarantee you that by fate, luck, chance, kismet, destiny, happenstance, coincidence, predestination, faith or a willing god, faerie, spirit, sprite, God or Goddess that something good, bad or indifferent will happen to you whether or not you forward this e-mail to the number of people of your choice.

Chuck Walker