One of the bloggers I’ve come to know (virtually) over the past couple of years is Allison Arnone of the blog AA. One of my favorite features on her blog is the series she calls #ROTD–Rant of the Day. In these posts, she takes on all the things (big and small) that drive her crazy. You know, like people who don’t take their shopping carts back to the cart corral at the grocery store and, instead, leave their cart where it blocks a parking space. Or roams around the parking lot like a wild mustang on wheels. Or serves as an ersatz garbage can for people who can’t be bothered to find an actual garbage can.
Yes, I resonated with that particular rant. A lot.
So I’ve decided to take inspiration from Allison and do some ranting of my own today. I had to take a Facebook hiatus this week because I’ve been really cranky and didn’t want to snap at people I consider my friends–and that’s when I decided that giving myself some ranting space here on She Dwells might solve the problems that Facebook ranting would, instead, create. (But don’t worry. I’ll be back to my usual pondering-the-possibilities self before you know it.)
For now, let the ranting commence.
You know the people I’m talking about, right? At the grocery store, they’re the ones taking a leisurely stroll down the center of the aisle, browsing all the shelves. On the sidewalk, they’re the people walking in pairs and making it impossible for anyone to get around them. If that pair is walking fast, of course, this becomes a non-issue. But when that pair is engaged in conversation and taking their time as they meander toward . . . wherever hogs hang out, it becomes a definite issue.
If everyone were more conscious of the way their behavior affects others, this problem would never arise at all. But since that’s apparently too much to ask, perhaps we all just need to remember that aisles are like roads. Keep to the right. That’s not hard to remember, is it? Even if it’s a one-way aisle (like an escalator), stay to the right anyway, so faster-moving people can pass on the left.
And if you’re inclined to sigh and say “I don’t know why everyone needs to be in such a big hurry,” just consider what happens to drivers who don’t keep right. Even if you don’t care about inconveniencing others, at least protect yourself.
You’ve probably heard more than you want to on this topic recently. I know I have. But because I’m a professor and it’s the start of a new academic year, I think it’s important to clarify a few things.
- The right to free speech means the government can’t arrest you for expressing any opinion.
- It’s not absolute. It’s limited in many ways: you can’t threaten to harm government officials, you can’t yell Fire! in a crowded theater that isn’t actually on fire, etc.
- It does not mean you can’t be fired from your job for expressing an opinion–even if you’re expressing that opinion when you aren’t at work.
- Within a university setting, it does not mean that professors have to allow their students to use language they find to be insulting or demeaning.
Having an open mind means understanding that knowledge is malleable. It changes when new information presents itself. It does not mean that you have to listen (politely or otherwise) to opinions you find offensive–just like I don’t have to sit through movies that I find offensive.
Doesn’t that mean I think those movies shouldn’t exist? No. It just means I want absolutely nothing to do with them.
I’m assuming you’ve seen the #sheetcaking segment that appeared on SNL last week. (If not, here you go.) When I first saw it, I thought it was hilarious. Then various friends started weighing in on how it was merely an expression of Fey’s white privilege, how sexist it is to show a woman stress eating, how tone deaf it is to have a “Let them eat cake!” moment in the middle of what is, arguably, a national crisis, etc., etc..
And all I could do was sigh.
As someone who can only be described as “so far to the political left that I’m nearly off the spectrum,” I have to say this: I get really, really tired of the ideological policing that goes on among people who are on my team. Not a single one of the friends who wrote an I don’t think this is funny at all post would argue about whether racism is abhorrent. (It is.) Or whether we need to stand up to evil wherever we see it. (We do.)
But arguing about whether an SNL skit is funny? Sure. Because that’s an excellent use of our energies.
This article does a good job of explaining how I read that skit. (And lord help me, when I start using Playboy as a cultural reference, you know the apocalypse is nigh.) If you disagree with this assessment and still think the skit wasn’t funny, okay. I can listen to your opinion and learn from it without sharing it. But what’s really important is for all of us to acknowledge that white privilege is everywhere. It’s even in the choices we make if we didn’t laugh at Tina Fey. Acting as if the That’s not funny response somehow makes you less privileged than those of us who laughed–well, that doesn’t solve any problems. It just puts us at odds with each other. I can’t see how that’s helpful in solving the very big problems we’re facing in this country.
If those of us who abhor bigotry and systemic racism could keep that in mind–if we could remember that fighting amongst ourselves is counterproductive and demoralizing–then perhaps we’d be a little farther down the road to equality.