Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Limits

I was going through some old documents from a couple of computers (or more) ago, and found this, which I had originally written back in 2004. This strikes me as unpolished - perhaps it's too direct, or maybe it's simply not as verbose as I've come to be since I started writing this weblog. Anyway, I'm posting it here because I think, as wonkily stated as it is, the central point still stands. But perhaps I'll have to revisit the topic at some point, and see if I can do better with it.

Pleased with his success, Joel [Harris, Colborne Corporation board member] continues. "Did you read about that fellow at the New York Times who got away with that? Everybody [is] afraid to challenge him 'cause he's a black guy."

The table falls silent. I give Joel a look usually reserved for people who fart loudly in public.
Cynthia Barnes, "Dispatches From the Great American Pie Festival."
Poor, stupid, Joel. He transgressed one of the unwritten rules of modern America: You don't get to criticize people not as "privileged" as yourself. Which means that white men get to pick on each other, but that's about it. As ubiquitous as this rule is, it's somewhat surprising that ANYONE manages to accidentally run afoul of it. Sure, you get the occasional Republican activist staging some whiny protest about how white folks don't get any respect (and yes, it's just as whiny when other people do it), but these are usually INTENTIONAL actions.

I haven't really followed the Jayson Blair case - I don't follow journalism. Not that I don't read the news or watch TV, or read magazines - but I don't really care what goes on behind the scenes. In any event, I don't know if Blair is getting a pass from people who would otherwise be more critical of him, because they fear that to do so would call the Urban League down upon their heads. But there are a lot of people who feel that way, and there are a lot of people on both sides of whatever line you care to draw that benefit from that situation.

But, I'm starting to get off message (I LOVE that phrase), so let me get back to the point. Being male, but not white, I get to take pot shots at men of all types, but women are off-limits. As I'm straight, homosexuals are off-limits too.

And so the question becomes: "Why is this?" How come I can make snide comments about, or be critical of certain people, but not others? Once political correctness became the order of the day, the idea was that it was uncool to say anything that might make someone else feel bad. But if this is REALLY about being PC, why are white guys everybody's whipping boys? Do we honestly think that they don't have feelings?

So I've concluded that this is more about payback. It's open season on those people who were once considered your betters, because of all the time that they spent dogging you in the past. We've altered the laws of physics, and created a society where crap actually flows uphill. And woe betide you, if you're dumb enough to actually complain about it.

This is, of course, a case of "the sins of the father" coming back to haunt their sons, and a number of the sons are more than a little peeved at being punished for actions that, in some cases, took place before they (or maybe even their parents) were so much as glimmers in someone's eye.

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