Friday, August 20, 2010

Funday Friday!

Today in NOTL:  Glorious!  Deliciously warm, not hot, breezy, sunny...summer is outdoing itself!

Poor Jennifer Aniston.  First Bill O'Reilly lambasts her for making a movie which represents positively a family model *other* than dad/mom/kids.  How dare she?  Doesn't she know she's devaluing fathers by making a movie about a single mom?  She's making men look unnecessary.  Says O'Reilly, "Men get hosed all day long in the parental arena. The fathers that do try hard are under-appreciated and diminished by people like Jennifer Aniston."

I'm rolling on that one - seems deadbeat dads and cheating husbands and abusive husbands do a pretty good job of making men look bad without Jennifer Aniston's help.  Who doesn't know a single mom who's ex is not busy trying to lower child support or skipping it entirely?  Or a woman whose husband is cheating on her?  Or one whose husband is beating or emotionally/mentally abusing her or the kids?   Wonderful fathers, and they do exist, are hard to find, and I do not count dogmatic Bill among them since being open-minded is one quality a good dad needs.

Then, as if that isn't enough, doesn't she go and use the word 'retard' on a talk show!  Oh, horrors, she has disrespected people who are mentally challenged.  I'm sorry, but I grew up in a generation that, for better or worse, insulted each other with words like idiot and stupid and retard (though Mama forbade us to call anyone retarded).  I can understand how, on camera, under the pressure of an interview, it would be easy to slip into old patterns.  I can't fault her for making a mistake.  I don't believe for a minute that she meant any disrespect to anyone except herself.

But language is a funny thing.  Words exist, and just because they are disrespectful to someone they are suddenly anathema?  How many X-words are we going to declare?  And it appears we can't even use legitimate words that SOUND like it without offending people, as in 1999, a public servant in Washington resigned after people got upset because he used a word that *sounded* like a racial slur.  (The word was 'niggardly' which has absolutely no racial connotation at at, deriving from Middle English 'nigon' which means miser.) 

So now we have an R-word?  Will we need another word for 'retard,' which means to slow down?  Can I no longer say I feel like an idiot or did something stupid? 

Are people of colour and mentally/physically handicapped people somehow more worthy of respect than we fat women are?  I ask because I sure see and hear a lot of disrespectful fat jokes, none of which make me feel very much like laughing, but it seems to be acceptable to ridicule fat people. 

Nevertheless, people have the right to judge me, if they choose, on the basis of my appearance.  I can't force people to look beneath the surface any more than I can demand they use their intellect to its fullest extent or create art that uplifts and inspires rather than celebrates the artist's ugly attitude. 

And when people make fun of others who are fat or less mentally able or who wear glasses or speak a different language or look different, I am free to respond.  I can judge them as fools or bigots or racists or ignorant hicks.  I can speak up and point out the hurtfulness of the words they use.  I can ignore them.  I can recognize that their words reveal more about them and their background than they do about me.  I can let it go.  If I'm spiritually 'on' that day, I can even bless them to their good. 

It seems inconsistent to me that in a society in which people are free to say vile things about a duly elected president (something Dubya can't claim to be, either time), people are not free to,yes, insult each other and speak with disrespect to each other and to hold ideas that others think are just plain wrong.

Isn't that what it means to live in a free society?   

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