Are You Offended?

Are You Offended?

    What a nation of crybabies and whiners we have become. Apparently a lot of people think they have a right not to be offended. This would seem to be at odds with free speech, the right to tell people things they don’t want to hear. Atheists are offended by Chinese-made Nativity scenes on courthouse lawns, Christians are offended that atheists take offense, and round and round we go. I don’t know why; it’s as if Christmas were still a religious holiday, or something. True, cheesy monuments to the Ten Commandments on public land goes against the separation of church and state. Less offensive would be the Sermon on the Mount, but it still doesn’t belong on public property.
    Every December it begins again, should store clerks be allowed to say “Merry Christmas” and offend atheists, or “Happy Holidays” and offend Christians? And “Holiday tree?” Oh, puh-leeze!
    The latest ruckus is over the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Many people don’t see the difference between that and “Warriors” or “Braves.” Okay, how about the Birmingham Blackskins? The Beijing Coolies? The Los Angeles Spics? The owner of that Washington team, Dan Snider, says he won’t buckle into pressure to rename them, a sentiment best echoed by the satirical Onion. in their headline: “Redskins’ Kike Owner Refuses to Rename Team.” Oh, and then there are the Cleveland Indians. Have you seen the logo on their caps, the team mascot? His name is Chief Wahoo and he looks like a Native American version of Little Black Sambo. Go ahead, Google it and see what you think. To that add fans of both the Atlanta Braves and Florida State Seminoles, with their “tomahawk chop.” Small wonder that the late brilliant Native American comic Charlie Hill would open his standup routine with “HI-how-are-ya, HI-how-are-ya, HI-how-are-ya.” We should expect such continuous racial insensitivity and ignorance from a trailer trash nation overpopulated with boorish louts. And yet there’s no more Frito Bandito or even Speedy Gonzales. And a 1970s restaurant chain named Sambo’s didn’t last very long, either, for I hope obvious reasons. I think Dora the Explorer is probably all right, though.
    We’re all familiar with that music that signals summer, the happy tinkling bells of that little three-wheeled ice cream truck (about 50 horsepower, max). Well, soon you may hear it no more.   In communities around the country, neighbors have complained about the noise, and many are forced to putter along the streets mutely. Now if only they could find a way to silence the laughter of children. And how will they know the ice cream truck is near?
    A Coca-Cola commercial during this last Super Bowl (GO HAWKS!) featured “America the Beautiful” sung in several languages, and at one point even showed a (gasp!) gay couple! There was outrage all over the Twittersphere. A similar panty-twisting reaction came to an 11-year-old Hispanic boy in San Antonio who sang the national anthem — gorgeously, I might add — during the NBA finals. There was lots of hateful rhetoric over it, never mind that not only is he an American citizen, but his father served in the Navy. The U.S. Navy.
    None of this is new, really, just more common. As Hamlet said, “Ay, Madam, it is common.” Twenty-five years ago I was working for the public library. Each October people would complain about the book display we put up each Halloween, featuring the Little Witch books and others, very popular with young children. It was the Devil’s work, you see. Why isn’t there such outcry over Count Chocula?
    Some years ago, in order not to offend non-Christians, the dating terms B.C. and A.D. were changed to B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Area). Many historians refused to knuckle under to this crapola, and I count myself among them.
    For taking offense, though, you can’t beat the Muslims. For just depicting the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon his name) in a pictorial manner of any kind, you can get the death sentence put upon you. Remember some years ago that Danish cartoonist who published some cartoons that were somewhat unflattering? They’re probably still looking for him. And Salman Rushdie had a death warrant on him for years after writing The Satanic Verses. Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in the streets after he collaborated with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the film “Submission,” which was about the Muslim culture’s treatment of women. So you don’t mess with those guys. I will say a word about Americans’ cultural ignorance. When we built a military base in Saudi Arabia under Pres. George H.W.Bush in 1990, most of us had no idea how deeply offended Muslims were. Not only was this sacred ground, but our soldiers were drinking alcohol and watching porn, and our women were driving jeeps with their sleeves rolled up, exposing their arms.
    Alright, we’ve seen examples that range from really petty grievances to outright racism. Much of this bigotry is encouraged, even nurtured, by the wealthy elite. They have rigged the system to their advantage, and would prefer we remain distracted. Hey, look over there! Those brown people from Mexico want to take your jobs! They would have us believe that all our troubles are because of illegal immigrants, Muslims, radical feminists, gays, or lazy people on food stamps. They know we outnumber them a thousand to one, and if we could ever organize together, it would lead to real change. So divide and conquer is the rule; keep people at each other’s throats so they don’t focus on where the real problem is.
    Yes, some things are clearly culturally offensive, like the name of that team from Washington. But this petty stuff that twists people’s knickers? Get over it. For crying out loud, folks saying “Merry Christmas” doesn’t mean they’re theocrats trying to impose Sharia Law. I’ve never liked the term “politically correct,” that’s way too Orwellian for me. But Americans are so thin-skinned these days. My brother used to have an expression I really like. He talked about developing hard bark, like thicker skin. So come on, America. What do you say we try and leave each other the hell alone? I know that’s a really big change, but hey, we’re Americans! We can do anything, right?

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