Aug 172016

“You don’t get to decide what offends me!”

This is, of course, true, but only trivially so. Any of us are free to be offended by anything we like. I’m offended when sesame seeds come on my hamburger bun. I’m offended by freight trains with an odd number of cars. I’m offended when the sun does that same tired eastern-sky-to-western-sky trajectory over, and over, and over…

The line tends to be a little more charged than that, though. Generally I hear it in matters of alleged racism or sexism. It may or may not be underpinned by accusations that I can’t possibly understand because I’m a white male, and my privilege blinds me.

You’re right, typical person who says the above. I don’t get to decide what offends you.

But I get to call what offends you ridiculous. And being offended by this Photoshopped photo that Ellen DeGeneres tweeted yesterday is ridiculous.


(This is Olympic champion Usain Bolt, in case you don’t know that. He is, as I type, the fastest person ever timed.) Accompanying the photo, Ellen says: “This is how I’m going to run errands from now on.”

This is, according to masses of people on social media, heinously racist. It’s a privileged white woman using a black man like a pack animal. She’s Miss Daisy, I read more than once. She should issue an immediate apology.

Blah, blah, blah.

Shut your mouths, you pathetic, fatuous, unthinking whiners. Every single one of you sit down, shut up, and listen to me.

In the first place, it’s a great photo, because it’s Bolt giving the camera a smile in the middle of a competition. I’m an aggressive non-follower of the Olympics, and even I picked up on that from my feeds here and there.

In the second place…this is a photograph of the fastest person in the world.

Do you get that? Do you see that that’s the salient point?

Do you really believe in your heart that somehow Ellen wouldn’t have done this if it were a white man, or an Asian woman, or (insert whatever identity you want here)? No, of course you don’t. So how is it racist?

Do you find anything in the past behavior of Ellen DeGeneres that would lead you to believe she’s racist?

It’s something that gave Ellen a chuckle and she shared with her feed, thinking it would generate more. That’s the extent of it. That is where thinking, reasonable people stop processing this. And I sincerely hope that, invited to opine further on this, she doubles down. I hope she says no, I’m not going to apologize because I did nothing wrong, and by the way, all of you just relax.

If you’ve decided it matters in this photograph that Usain Bolt is a black man, then you are the problem. You are manufacturing crisis.

You are the racist.

If we can’t all figure out how to presume some basic common sense and a little charity of spirit, then all of our sociocultural problems are insurmountable.

 Posted by at 12:08 pm
Jul 272016

bopurp2You don’t have to read long to know that I’m not shy about discussing politics. Sometimes I don’t for a while, but mostly if I’m talking about politics at length anywhere, it’s here. (I weaken on Facebook once in a while, but mostly keep it light there.)

We’re halfway through the second convention in a presidential election year. Running mates are named. Debates are on deck. In past presidential election years, I’d be humming here by now. I have a high school friend and longtime reader who once called the presidential election my “Super Bowl” in terms of writing. I took that as a great compliment.

I’m not bringing a lot of passion to the election this time. Have you noticed?

It’s because I don’t like either one of the candidates. I mean, I really don’t like either one of the candidates. I don’t believe either one of them will make a remotely serviceable president. My only comfort is that as big a mess as President Charlie X has made, the country still stands. And I doubt the next president, whether Trump or Clinton, will go in feeling as gleefully destructive and contemptuous.

Given that Trump will carry Alabama by 15 points no matter what I do, and also given that Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is dopey on foreign policy in that typically libertarian way, odds are good that 2016 is the first presidential election since I became eligible to vote that I won’t. Then I can say I didn’t help make the mess (and suffer the bizarre wrath of tongue-cluckers who claim that people who don’t vote jettison their right to complain, which has already happened once).

(I only thought my support for Romney in 2012 was tepid. I think back now and it feels like massive cheerleading compared to 2016’s apathy.)

I have been amused, both last week and this, by the number of my Facebook friends who have lamented the poor state of discourse in this country. I posted recently on what I think the biggest problem there is. But what especially amuses me is that these are often the same people who have expressed displeasure similar to mine with our choice this time.

I ask, sincerely: what’s worth getting worked up about?

If you really can’t stand up and support either one of these candidates, then why are you burning any polemical oil on either one of them? If you think both Trump and Clinton supporters are wrong, then why engage either one of them? Why watch the conventions? I’m going to get out this time not having consumed a single minute of either one of them. I didn’t even go back and watch the end of Cruz’s speech.

(Now I may have to watch the debates, as significant political theater seems likely. But even that will be firmly in the realm of superficial entertainment for me.)

Keep it real, dudes and dolls. Recognize this election for what it is. Do you want syphilis, or gonorrhea? Do you want to jump out of the 60th floor, or the 80th? Would you like to be torn to pieces and devoured by tigers, or great white sharks?

In a typical election year, “troublemakers” (ha ha) find people waving the other candidate’s flag and pick on them. But this time anyone with either flag is off.

Make trouble with everyone? Or make trouble with no one?

 Posted by at 11:34 am
Jul 222016

I didn’t watch a single minute of the Republican convention, which means I didn’t see or hear any of Donald Trump’s speech last night. I haven’t seen many excerpts or reactions today that surprise me. However, I’ve seen more than one person up in arms about this: Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. As […]

 Posted by at 6:58 pm
Jul 202016

I understand there is a norovirus outbreak. Write your own joke. Melania Trump has been accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. And yes, whether the fault is her own, that of a speechwriter, or someone else, I believe she did. However, I consider the real tragedy here not that she did it, but […]

 Posted by at 10:07 am
Jul 132016

Bo: “Can I write about that?” Wise friend: “Do you plan to praise it?” Bo: “Yes.” Friend: “Do you plan to praise it unambiguously and exclusively?” Bo: “Not necessarily.” Friend: “Then no, you can’t write about that.” She’s right. And I won’t. Those of you counting such as victories, please add your tick mark […]

 Posted by at 7:09 pm is using WP-Gravatar