Kramer vs. Everybody
If you're like me, you're sick & tired of hearing about Michael Richards. It seems to me that he may have had some sort of mental breakdown. (He had at least one in the past). Now I'm not saying that it's ok for comedians to just stand on stage & shout racial slurs at the audience but . . .
Well, wait a minute. Comedians do that all the time & people looove it. How can that be? Well, the comedians I'm talking about aren't straight white American folks. They're black, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, homosexual, immigrants & handicapped.
For some reason, that makes it ok. It's never a racial slur if it's directed at Caucasian people.
Likewise, it's never hate speech if it's directed at women, children, the rich, lawyers, politicians, Italians, blondes, the poor, anyone from the South, people of Polish descent, the Irish, policemen & women, Catholics (especially priests), your own husband or anyone who has ever lived in West Virginia.
There are a couple of things particularly troubling about this incident. For starters, the "victims'" lawyer immediately demanded a monetary apology. It's impossible to maintain even an iota of integrity while cashing a check with "Sorry I hurt your feelings" in the memo line. If money salves your alleged wounds then you don't have enough human decency in you to even have feelings.
Hip hop & gangsta rap culture are celebrated & even emulated by many people. It's also defined by violent & racist language. I'd like to think that every person pissed at Richards has written at least one letter to the FCC or their local radio stations in protest of this pop music . . . but if everyone was as outraged by this term as they claim to be, rap artists wouldn't be getting richer & more famous every day.
In America, we're at the mercy of the media. When was the last time you saw copious news footage of a murderer, rapist or pedophile being called on the carpet for their crimes? But heaven help any person who commits some sort of perceived social faux pas because the media will flay you mercilessly. Seems pretty lame to me.
The media panders to the poltical correctness of the moment. The same media pressuring us to denounce Richards used the word "colored" with no apologies just twenty years ago. Only a week ago, that same media was salaciously anticipating OJ's new book.
Our culture should shape the media, not the other way around. It's time for America to take back our society from the reporters & broadcasters. They should be reporting what we do, not contriving & manipulating situations to garner the desired reaction from us.
In this country we have freedom of speech. That means that if you don't like what someone has to say, you don't have to listen; You don't have to condone it but it also means that you can't ever shut them up. What's ignorant or demeaning to you is empowering & motivating to another -- for example, words like bitch & nigger, which have been embraced by many women & blacks in recent years.
The downside to your freedom is that everyone else has it too. At some point, a person is going to spit your own sexuality, culture, etc. back in your face & you're not gonna like it.
But freedom is an all-or-nothing principle & it's not to anyone's advantage that we all give it up. If you don't want to be free, there are plenty of other places you can go. There are countries all over the world where people can't speak their mind for fear of execution.
Join the US military & you're almost guaranteed instant deployment to a nation that supports censorship. By the time your tour has ended, your idea of freedom -- and what it's worth -- will probably have changed for the better.