The “ban the flag” campaign is as overpowering as it is speedy, and it is as overpowering & speedy as it is nonsensical. There are some people who like that, of course: Those who have honestly and sincerely thought of the flag as offensive, for whatever reason, and the persons & groups who think of themselves as emerging from this with greater political power than they had before, should the flag fall. Which seems quite likely.
So of course they have their reasons for wanting it all to go down this way. But that doesn’t change the fact that society can’t endure like this. We’ve already had the spectacle of gay marriage, in which an idea that was okay in one year, became not-okay a year or two later. Oh what’s that, you thought that had to do with an expansion of freedom? Silly you. But now, even a year is too long, the “okay/not-okay” axis is flipped in a matter of days. With society’s “don’t you dare think otherwise” taboos being churned around like this, society can’t stand. You’re no longer demanding better behavior out of people when that happens; what you’re doing then is just manufacturing new classes of wrongdoers. Worse yet, the churning is becoming a routine matter. You don’t know what’s okay today that will be not-okay next year — and, I can’t tell you, you can’t tell me. Nobody knows.
How did we get here? If you’ve ever had to attend sexual harassment training, you know, because they repeat it over and over to the point you have to memorize it: “It’s important to remember that the intent of the accused is entirely irrelevant in these matters, it is the perception of the offended party that determines everything.” Frustratingly, it seems they never stop to explain who exactly it was who decided it works that way. Because it can’t work that way. When things work that way, you get silly things like this:
Texan Keith White was furious to hear what he interpreted as a racial slur in a 1984 episode of the Jim Henson series Fraggle Rock while watching the show with his two-year-old daughter. “I heard him say Jigaboo,” said White. “My reaction was to keep replaying to see if that’s what I really heard, and that’s what I heard, and that’s what I hear.”
According to a copy of the script sent to The CW33, which broke the story, the character accused of racial insensitivity is actually saying “Gee, Gobo” — Gobo being the name of the main character. The Jim Henson Company has backed up The Hub’s explanation. Hey, absurd controversies over non-issues in children’s entertainment aren’t exactly unheard of either.
The Hub has since edited Gobo’s name out of the line in an effort to avoid similar incidents in the future, but to White, that’s just further confirmation that he was in the right. “Why would you edit, if it`s a mistake?” he asked. “Why are you going to edit it out? Are you hearing the same thing?”
Silly twit. They’re editing it out, obviously, because they’re tired of dealing with your crap, just as you’re generating the crap because you know people will tire of dealing with it. This story dominated the news cycle at the time it was a thing — now, even with our wonderful Internet with all its search engines, it’s pretty darn hard to scrape together even fragments of it. And that speaks volumes: Over the long haul, none of this matters. The offended dad got what he wanted, he moved on, we moved on — and, we don’t have our sparkling, shining, non-offensive citadel. We’re still just getting offended one thing at a time.
As was the case with Fraggle Rock, on the “flag thing” there is another plausible story about what is meant. Although those who insist “the perception of the offended determines everything” won’t know the first thing about it:
Ben Jones, who played Cooter in the (Dukes of Hazzard) series, runs a chain of “Cooter’s Place” stores in Tennessee and serves as the unofficial head of Hazzard fandom, organizing festivals and making public appearances with his copy of the General Lee. In a Facebook message[,] Jones said the Confederate battle flag was a “symbol of independence,” and vowed his stores would keep selling them until a chilly day in hell.
As for the flag on the General Lee:
That flag on top of the General Lee made a statement that the values of the rural South were the values of courage and family and good times.
Our beloved symbol is now being attacked in a wave of political correctness that is unprecedented in our nation of free speech and free expression. Activists and politicians are villifying [sic] southern culture and our heritage as being bigoted and racist. We know that this is not the case. And we know that in Hazzard county there was never any racism…
We are not racists. We despise racism and bigotry. And we think the people who are creating this “cultural cleansing” are the real bigots in this story.
When we say our flag stands for “heritage, not hate” and “pride, not prejudice”, we mean it. And we believe that old saying, “you can’t know where you are going if you forget where you came from.”
But, don’t we become a better people if we identify these articles of offense, and then take civil and cultural steps to eliminate them? No. It is obvious we aren’t creating a placid and peaceful future out of a tumultuous past when we do that because, well, here we are. And we’ve seen this play out so many times, we don’t even have an excuse left to us for not noticing. My own Thing I Know #52 states it succinctly:
52. Angry people who demand things, don’t stop being angry when their demands are met.
I’m pretty sure Fraggle Rock dad is still pissed, wherever he is. And as the “Fa La La Your La” episode of South Park vividly showed through mockery, openly bragging about having the whatever-it-was, “most non-offensive, non-denominational Christmas ever!” just makes you sound stupid. This particular effort isn’t removing anything truly offensive; at least one of the victims of the shooting certainly didn’t think so.
So we are not improving our society by repeatedly churning-around our societal taboos like this. Quite to the contrary, not-offending is a great strategy for not getting anything done. It is a perfect recipe for blandness, as one of my Facebook friends noted:
This bland world we are creating where everyone thinks alike, acts alike and has the same thing. Flavorless and without texture, it is filled with questions such as “what is your pronoun preference?”
Because using the wrong pronoun is a micro[-aggression] that must be punished.
We cannot stray from the narrative, even in comedy or novels.
Classics are labeled with trigger warnings.
No one has the ‘right’ to practice their religion in public but everyone has a ‘right’ to the products of their neighbor’s labor.
We are all one family. We all live the same way. Wear the same thing. Our history is expunged. Our thoughts are controlled with our speech.
We are politically correct. Our betters will explain the rules and move the bar as we work toward perfect homogeneity.
The question that still remains is: Who are those betters? Because it’s actually worse than this — we’re not only becoming “flavorless and without texture,” we’re becoming intractably addicted to the perils of passive voice. We’re transforming into a gelding-place in which nobody actually does anything.
It’s so bad by now, we actually have a “ballsy” way of showing your cowardice about this issue. Of course, a lot of that has to do with not showing anything, treading very, very quietly. But at least you can say this for Alabama’s Governor…
Alabama’s governor on Wednesday ordered the removal of four Confederate flags from the state capitol, the latest move to remove the controversial image from public places.
Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision comes two days after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia. The drive to remove the flag from public places and from store shelves has accelerated since then and comes after nine African-Americans were killed last week in what was allegedly a racially motivated attack in a historically black church in Charleston.
I hate to say it, being as I am a Seattle boy who really doesn’t have a dog in the Stars-n-Bars hunt. But, if I have to see that much more cowardliness about this thing, I wish I saw more of the kind Gov. Bentley showed. Make a fucking goddamn decision. It’s sad when I have to ask: Remember decisions? Remember those? “I can’t take the heat on this; the flag goes.” Or, “Fuck all of you people, the flag stays, and if you don’t like it vote me out of office.” The sadness is that either one of those exclamations would be as welcome as the other.
We’ve lost so much testosterone over the years, that we can’t have either one. We’ve got a “flag debate.” Why? WHY?? That’s the part that’s most silly, to me: Take it down, leave it up, but one way or another wrap it up and move on to the next thing. We’ve got murderous prison inmate escapees on the loose — still haven’t been caught, were you following that?
As Rush Limbaugh noticed, none of the backsplash is hitting the democrat party — as it should:
The whole thing in South Carolina, the Confederate flag, it’s not to identify hypocrites or racists. That’s what it’s made to look like. This is nothing more than the latest technique from the Democrat Party to advance their political agenda, with, of course, the media as willing accomplices.
So you can show me all of the Hillary paraphernalia you want with her loving the Confederate flag and kissing the Confederate flag and the Confederate flag all over her campaign operative posters, and Bill Clinton, too, it isn’t gonna matter, folks. It just isn’t going to matter. It isn’t gonna disqualify Hillary. It’s not gonna get Hillary thrown in the same pot with all these. I mean, what Republican had anything to do with what happened in South Carolina anyway? How did this all of a sudden become a Republican Party problem? But it is, isn’t it?
It is, because & only because perception is reality. People are more sensitive to the political currents — but, we’re not becoming more considerate of each other. Information flows so much more quickly, and we get more of it, but in the long run we become dumber because we’re not selecting it accurately, not choosing it, not using it. Our ammunition is more devastating but our aim is lousy.
This is not a party thing, it’s a culture thing. Liberals don’t like the V-8 engines or the pretty girls or the plaid shirts or the meat or the barbecue sauce or the beer or the the “yeehaw.” But if you were to attach that culture to one political party or the other, the democrat party is the one that actually has roots there. On the other hand, speaking of history, why are we talking about the flag all of a sudden? Right, because of the church shooting; we’re supposed to be concerned about shootings. Well, is this going to prevent any? Nevermind the answer — we’ve forgotten to ask the question. We don’t care.
So we know this is not going to do anything to improve the way our society functions, because we know there isn’t anything virtuous about it. Virtue didn’t pick our path for us. What got us down this road was hatred, violence and murder. Is there something I can do, as a hard-working taxpaying homeowning guy who works his tushie off every day, to start a movement that packs this much influence, that up-ends what’s right vs. what’s wrong so quickly and so dramatically? And keeps us all talking about it day after day after day? Something you can do like that? Something any law-abiding citizen can do that’s like that?
So the real problem is not our cultural canvas, or what’s written on it; the problem is who among us gets to make the markings. We’re in the mode right now of allowing evil to make a lasting impression in indelible ink, and good can’t even bring finger painting pots from a Kindergarten class. With that discrepancy in place, it really doesn’t matter what images make it onto the cloth, in the long run they aren’t going to be good. Things will keep deteriorating as long as we allocate greater influence to evil, than to good. Things won’t get any better, anywhere until we change that.
And then once we do, they will.