Bill has to leave in a few days to work distantly for three weeks. Meanwhile, I’m a bit worried about Arran, who doesn’t seem like himself. This is the third year Bill has had an extended TDY at this time of year. It seems like every year, something causes angst. A couple of years ago, Arran had worms that were causing some similar symptoms that he’s experiencing now– gas, intermittent vomiting, and lethargy. He recently has had a mast cell tumor removed and sometimes they can cause stomach upset. Of course, he might also have worms. So, on top of everything else that has to be done before Bill leaves on Saturday, we have to get him to the vet for a checkup.
Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to watch Growing Pains and I am convinced that at least one of the writers had a prejudice against overweight people. Not only were there many fat jokes directed at Tracey Gold’s character, Carol Seaver, but there were also a lot of fat jokes in general. For instance, yesterday, I was watching an episode in which Alan Thicke’s character was giving therapy to a guy whose wife had decided to go back to work and that was upsetting to him. He asks the guy what had changed in five years and the patient says, “She got fat.” Then, later in the episode, he says something about how she “waddled” home from work.
Another thing I noticed is that post Kirk Cameron’s conversion to Christianity (alliteration extraordinaire!), the word “hell” was used very seldom. Instead, they all say “heck”. I could probably turn it into a drinking game. “What the heck is this?” “What the heck is going on here!” “Heck no!” And all of the characters speak like this. They also all say “stinkin'” a lot. Indeed, there is a minor character named “Stinky Sullivan” who apparently farts a lot or wears dirty underwear. In real life, people wouldn’t all speak the same way like that, which makes me think the writers were getting a bit lazy. I mean, I could see someone say “stinkin'” as a habit, but an entire cast? One person must have been doing all of the writing or editing, or something.
And finally, Growing Pains was obviously ABC’s answer to NBC’s Family Ties. And Kirk Cameron was supposed to be their answer to Michael J. Fox, who gets mentioned a time or two on the show. However, instead of making Kirk’s character smart, like Fox’s Alex P. Keaton was, they make him a poor student. And instead of making Carol Seaver “dumb” like Justine Bateman’s “Mallory” was, they make her super smart. Ben, like Jennifer Keaton, is kind of lovable and offbeat. And then they had the bonus change of life baby, only on Family Ties, it was partly because Meredith Baxter was pregnant in real life. She had a boy, and Joanna Kerns’ character, Maggie Seaver, had a girl.
I realize I’m expending a lot of mental power on an 80s era sitcom. Growing Pains was a show I thought I didn’t like that much. I remember losing interest in it before it ended in 1992. I think I do prefer Family Ties for a lot of reasons. But it has been interesting to watch the show again. It’s better written than I remembered it, but not as well-written as Family Ties is. And all the misogynistic jokes about looks and weight are kind of disturbing, especially given that Tracey Gold did end up with a pretty serious eating disorder.
As is my habit, I’ll watch the rest of the episodes and move on to my next binge watching marathon. Hopefully, that will help while away the time I’ll be alone, worrying about Arran. He is about twelve now, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that he’s sick with something scary. On the other hand, he’s not been totally debilitated. He’s still eating, playing, sleeping, and taking walks, for instance. But his behavior is still a bit odd.
I’m pretty irritated that Bill has to go TDY, especially since Germany is supposedly in another wave of COVID-19. I will be completely alone, except for the dogs. In another era, I wouldn’t have minded so much, but the older I get, the more this kind of stuff bothers me. And I have to admit, I’m worried that Arran is not well.
And finally… I wrote yesterday about how Kendra Duggar was still pregnant. Well, it turns out she had her baby girl on February 19, 2021. The new baby is named Brooklyn Praise. I guess we should be glad she didn’t name her Saint or Psalm. However, when I think of the name “Praise”, it makes me think of this…
The Duggars now have 20 grandchildren and half the kids aren’t married yet. That is one hell of a quiverfull of Republican fundies they’ve got there.
Thanksgiving is coming, and that means there are lots of articles on the Internet about holiday travels. This is nothing unusual. Every year, there are articles aplenty about that annual trip to Grandma’s house. It’s the busiest time of the year for travel. But this year, traveling is ill advised, thanks to the coronavirus. Experts are “begging” people to stay home, socially isolate, and love their family and friends enough to stay away from them for however long it takes to tame the virus. Lots of people have heeded the call and are staying home. Others are ignoring the advice and have made travel plans, COVID-19 risks be damned!
Well… given that an ocean and several countries separate me from my family, I have no problem heeding that advice. Bill and I haven’t been “home” for Thanksgiving since 2014, even though Thanksgiving is a pretty big deal in my family. Most years, there is a big reunion in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It’s gotten so huge that I don’t even know everyone who attends anymore. My aunt sensibly canceled this year’s event anyway, weeks ago. I suspect some of my relatives will be gathering in spite of the pandemic. While I don’t necessarily condone ignoring health and safety tips from the powers that be, I also know these folks well. Many of them are devout Christians and Trump supporters, and they’re simply not going to let a virus stop them from being with each other at Thanksgiving. And they’re sure as hell not going to let someone on the Internet shame them into changing their plans, either.
I will bet my Georgia relatives, in particular, will get together this year, because their sibling and my oldest cousin died last weekend and they will feel the need to gather and mourn. This branch of my family is unusually close-knit. Before their eldest sister died, there were four siblings. Among themselves, they had eleven children, and some of those children now have married and had their own kids. They all live somewhat close to each other and see each other often. One of my cousin’s daughters is about to have a baby, and another is engaged. Besides needing to mourn, they have a lot to celebrate. So I bet they’ll still gather, in spite of all of the expert advice against celebrating holidays in groups. I’ve seen them posting photos and videos of themselves living life as normal– sans masks or social distancing. Nothing I can say or do will change that reality.
My relatives aren’t the only ones who will probably be together. I just read an advice column in The New York Times entitled Ask Real Estate. Today’s question is, “Do I Really Have to Quarantine if I Visit Family for Thanksgiving?” I’m not sure what this question has to do with real estate, since it’s about visiting family during the holidays, not buying or selling a house. I guess it’s because the person lives in an apartment building in Manhattan and buildings have rules about quarantines. I actually like the answer this person got from the columnist. It’s reasonable and civil, with advice on how to lower the risks of contracting COVID-19 and running afoul of building management.
Of course, the comments are something different. COVID-19 is definitely a scary thing, and a whole lot of people have gotten sick and ended up dying. Quite a lot of people have also gotten the virus and are suffering from “long hauler” syndrome, meaning they can’t shake those lingering symptoms after the acute illness has passed. There’s also no telling whether or not the virus will lay dormant and re-emerge during times of stress, like the herpes virus does. What if, years from now, after you’ve forgotten about having had COVID-19, it roars back after you’ve had a cold?
And so it seems that a lot of people just can’t resist. They have to leave annoying, preaching, holier-than-thou comments, along with all knowing statements like “this is why we’re in this mess”. And then there are a few other statements like, “No, you don’t have to follow these ridiculous rules. We live in a free society.” Those statements always inflame the virtue signalers and shamers, and they feel compelled to respond in the most irksome way possible.
Naturally, the people who dare to post something other than, “love your family enough to stay home this year” are getting smacked down by those who insist on cajoling, pleading, demanding, nagging, and whining. I’m sure it makes people feel better to post these responses. I just wonder what good they do. Have you ever met anyone whose mind was changed because some stranger on the Internet insulted them? I don’t think I have. I know that when someone insults me, I usually withdraw from communicating with them. Even if someone doesn’t insult me by calling me a name, I probably won’t be too interested in conversing with them if they respond in a condescending manner.
I’ve seen a lot of people pointing to Asian countries as societies to look up to in this mess. One commenter on The New York Times piece wrote a lengthy story about how her son, who just moved from China to Thailand, has had to put up with all sorts of restrictions on his freedom to stop the spread of the virus. She wrote that Americans need to do what they do in Asia. I fear it will never happen because, on many levels, Asian cultures are not like western cultures. Moreover, I don’t think Asian cultures are necessarily better than western cultures are.
They have a different mindset over there. Personal honor is a big deal. Some Asian ideas are well worth considering, but hard to emulate. Some Asian ideas are just plain bad– like working so hard that you die, like the young woman in Japan who clocked 159 hours of overtime in a month and then promptly dropped dead. Yes, some Asian countries are getting on top of the coronavirus by aggressively locking down and forcing people to wear masks. But their citizens are dying of other things that are less likely to be a problem in the United States or Europe, like extreme overwork or suicide because they didn’t get perfect grades.
Still, I understand why people feel the need to school others and scold them for living their lives on their own terms. Right now, the virus is spreading like wildfire. Healthcare workers are stretched to the limits. Bodies are stacking up in morgues. People have lost their jobs, their homes, and loved ones. However– it’s not just coronavirus that is killing people. Natural disasters are also deadly this year. I seem to remember a lot of people in California having to run for their lives as wildfires swept through their neighborhoods. I’ve read about hurricanes and tornados and all manner of other disasters upending and ending lives this year. And goddammit, I think some people just feel like they deserve to eat turkey and mashed potatoes with their parents and children this year. Some people think that living in solitude is worse than the threat of catching and spreading a potentially deadly communicable disease. Nothing you or I say will make a difference– except maybe if they or a loved one actually gets sick and/or dies.
Either way, it takes time for attitudes to collectively change. I suspect there will either be a treatment or a vaccine before people voluntarily start deciding to adopt the draconian rules imposed in some Asian countries. In any case, drastic changes in American attitudes are definitely not going to happen this year. Many people are bound and determined to have their turkey. They have already made up their minds and made their travel plans. And no amount of nagging, virtue signaling, and insulting from strangers on the Internet will change that reality.
Oh… but people still think their pithy, sarcastic, shaming, scolding comments will change hearts and minds… or they just feel better for having written them. I suppose it comes from feeling helpful in the face of something so tiny, yet so very powerful. There’s, maybe, a bit of a rush that comes from telling someone off. I wonder how many stop to think about how the person on the receiving end feels. Frankly, at best, they very likely won’t care. At worst, it will make them angry and more resolved to do what they want anyway. Or maybe they’ll pass along that anger to someone else. In the end, all that nagging turns into more noise that makes living through a pandemic even more annoying and soul sucking.
I’m probably wasting my time by writing this piece. People are going to do what they’re going to do. I guess what I’m trying to do is comment on a behavior I see as mostly futile and highly irritating. I think it’s very unlikely that I’m going to change anyone’s mind about their plans for the holidays. I might be able to convince someone who has any regard for my opinions… that would most likely only be Bill, and that’s just because he has to live with me. I can’t think of too many other people who care that much about what I think or want to avoid disappointing me. So I don’t tell other people what to do… I mostly try to avoid giving advice, unless they ask for it. When I do, on occasion, offer unsolicited advice, I often apologize, because I think most people are irritated by it. Sometimes you can’t help yourself– and I get that, too. I also realize that people are going to do what they’re going to do, no matter what I think or say or post on social media.
But yeah… I think the holiday season is often annoying even during normal times. It’s especially annoying this year. It’s a good thing there’s booze and ibuprofen.
Apologies to my dear friend, whose page hosted the topic of today’s post. Also, I hope she doesn’t mind that I cursed in a post her Christian friend read.
I got into a short online spat with someone last night. It wasn’t a very serious spat, mainly because I didn’t take the guy’s comments seriously. Unfortunately, I have gotten to the point at which I tune out most people who are staunch Trump supporters. As each day passes, I find myself with decreasing patience for people who still champion Trump, especially when they profess to be Christians.
A very dear friend of mine shared today’s featured photo. Although I agree with it, I wasn’t going to comment. I usually don’t comment on such things on Facebook, because they lead to pointless arguments with people I don’t know or care about, and then I end up getting upset, although I usually end up with a pretty good blog topic for the next morning. But Bill has been away on business and I was bored and completely sober.
So anyway, I came across my friend’s photo and happened to read the responses. The first was by a male Christian friend of hers who supports Trump. He chastised my friend for “painting with a broad brush”. This was his comment:
Be very careful now! You are getting ready to cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed. I support Trump as President. My faith in the Lord is colorblind and non political. You are using a broad brush my old friend and becoming what you say you are against. I know plenty of people that support Trump that are none of those things. I know plenty of democrats that aren’t socialist and believe in the Lord too. You might want to rethink sharing this post. Just saying.
A mutual friend of ours left an astonished and amused response.
Uh, you support Trump and are warning people about “crossing lines”???!!! OMG, that is PRICELESS. 😂😂😂
When I read the first comment, I just felt tired and annoyed. So I wrote, “I’m so tired of Trump supporters.” And I am. I’m just really tired of them. I’m tired of seeing and hearing Trump and reading headlines about his depressing, trolling comments. I’m tired of watching people in the United States cheer on Trump as others languish or die of gun violence, police brutality, and COVID-19. I’m tired of hearing people praise Trump’s non-sensical gibberish. But I am ESPECIALLY tired of so-called Christians who give Trump respect, support, and a PASS on his bad behavior, when Trump is about as Christian as a broken cattle prod.
And I’m really sick of Trump supporters claiming that liberals are “socialists” or even that socialism is a terrible thing. The vast majority of them don’t even know what socialism is and are only parroting stuff they’ve heard from equally ignorant people who also don’t know, as they collect their government benefits and rely on publicly supported entities like schools, fire stations, public health offices, and police departments. They often confuse socialism with communism, which also isn’t in and of itself a “bad” thing. Communism doesn’t work too well, but it’s not evil. It’s just flawed, much like capitalism is.
I wasn’t going to comment again, but the original poster’s Christian Trump loving friend came back and left a “polite” response. Well, I suppose it was polite. He’s above using cuss words.
that’s what I mean! Very careful how you batch folks into groups. I never said anything negative about anyone and the only thing you had to come back with was negative. Now let’s talk about character here? Be very careful because we are all being judged. I care for A. I don’t know who you ladies are but I would suggest some soul searching. This time think a little before you come in to our conversation with a snappy comeback. It sounds as though you are not being very receptive to other people’s opinions and you are casting stones when you yourselves live in glass houses. Isn’t that one of the things you say you don’t like about President Trump? I’ll pray for you both.
Sigh… Seriously guy? Save your prayers for the country. The country needs your prayers much more than I do. Many individuals who are out of work, homeless, facing deportation and separation from their children, sick and dying, or drowning in debt need prayers more than I do. I’m doing pretty well, mainly because I am not living in the United States right now. Against my better judgment, I left a response.
I don’t like Trump because he’s a wannabe dictator and a rapist. There is ample evidence of it that dates back from before A, E, and I were born. And I’m tired of Trump supporters because they refuse to see what is right in front of them. He is not your garden variety conservative, you know.
As for your prayers, you should save them for the country and the many people who are suffering and dying under Trump’s cruel, self-serving, and downright stupid policies. It’s going straight down the toilet.
The Trump supporting Christian wrote this in response:
America will never go down the toilet. The troubles we are having are because we the people have allowed the liberal, progressive politicians run our country for far too long. We are taking it back and that’s with President Trumps help. He knows he works for us and that’s the difference. Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Schumer , etc. think we work for them. We will see where we stand in a few weeks and what the next step is in taking our country back. I will continue to pray for you and thank you for your thoughts👍
I thought about telling him, again, to save his prayers for people who want and need them. Thoughts and prayers don’t do jack shit for people who have lost their homes to uncontrolled wildfires, wind damage wrought by tornados, and flooding caused by hurricanes. Trump doesn’t care about those people, either, nor does he care about those who are giving their health and even their lives to help people in crisis. Trump would rather golf and eat a fucking cheeseburger… and then maybe fuck someone, other than his wife, that he thinks is pretty, although he may not be able to get it up as well as he once did.
But I did leave our Trump supporting friend a comment. It was a provocative one. I don’t usually go this low, but I just felt frustrated and irritated, especially by the guy’s patronizing tone toward me. I’m beyond tired of it.
…you have really drunk the conservative KKKool-Aid, haven’t you? Well… we’ll see what the future holds. I am sure many Germans had similar love for Hitler.
Another friend from our hometown, a Black man I’ve known since the fourth grade, was pretty shocked and (I suspect) delighted by that comment. And he left me a hearty response which made me laugh.
Damn! It is not necessary to put both feet in his ass when one is sufficient! You are straight vicious!😂
Then our Trump loving Christian friend came back with this…
For goodness sakes! Another Hitler reference. ? Now listen, Hitler would have never support Israel. Israel was under attack but it wasn’t by this President. Further more, Hitler was a socialist. He was driven by hatred and discontent. Trump is a competitor and wants to win. That’s getting old and tired. Look, no true Christian puts his faith in any person. I have as much Faith in President Trump as I do any President. When you look at the proof. He’s is getting done what he said he would do. That means he deserves another chance. If he wasn’t get it done then there wouldn’t be so many upset with him. No, I just think this is because he wasn’t supposed to win and the losing side is still angry. As for Religion and President Trump, the Lord has done his works through many people who weren’t perfect. None of us are.
I apologized, mainly to my dear friend, whose page was hosting this spectacle…
Sorry… I am just really fed up with willful ignorance and “thoughts and prayers”. I happen to live in a place where people have seen this very same shit happening. More than a few of them have mentioned the similarities. Watching the decay of the United States from afar is heartbreaking and scary, and I am tired of condescending platitudes from people who profess to be followers of Christ, yet support a racist rapist who doesn’t give two shits about anyone but himself.
Generally speaking, I am not vicious at all. I really try to be open minded. But Trump is not like any other leader I have seen in my lifetime.
Then the Christian came back and complained about the language being used. SIGH… I really think God cares about things more important than swearing, like young women being shot by the police while sleeping in their beds. But this was his comment…
let’s not talk about feet and asses. I was trying to keep this above board. Opinions differ and that’s healthy. Why is it when someone hits a nerve foul language and courage through grammar starts? I know I’m right in my thinking because I’m living proof. I have a worked hard my entire life and achieved my wisdom through experience and hard knocks. I don’t get my facts through the liberal media and the lies they spread or some half wit professor paid to spread their socialistic nonsense. Where do the references to Hitler, KKK, etc. come from? Do you have actual proof of those things? Why is it that before he became President all of the liberal media morons worshiped him and we’re giving him awards? The reason I commented to A was because you can’t lump Trump supporters as racists and hypocrites just like I can’t lump you in with thugs and criminals because you haven’t spoke out against the riots and attacks on the police. That would be right for me to do now would it?
My Black friend apologized for his “ass” comment and commended me for my “passion”. Then he asked me not to apologize because people like me give him hope. That made me feel good. But I also wanted to add a clarification, for the Christian guy, just to explain my references to the KKK and Hitler. In fact, if I thought it would do any good, I would also supply links to a couple of blog posts I wrote last year that illustrate why I think of the KKK and Hitler when I see someone doggedly and mindlessly supporting Trump. But I think I’ll just link them here for the curious, since I doubt he’d take the time to read.
Anyway, this was my latest post, and probably the last one I’ll write about this, since I have other things to do, like pluck the weird hairs from my chin and upper lip and clean the lint from my butt crack.
To be clear… I don’t think that we’re mimicking the Holocaust yet, nor do I think Trump is just like Hitler. I think he shares many leadership and personality qualities with Hitler and many people are reacting to him in much the same way Germans reacted to Hitler. Trump has also surrounded himself with charismatic toadies like Hitler did, and they are doing his bidding. And those who have read about history will be able to note the similarities. However, to my knowledge, there isn’t an actual genocide going on, which is a very good thing.
People who support Donald Trump may call themselves Christians and they may not say or do the horrible things Trump has done. But by supporting him publicly and voting for him, they are telling the world that Trump’s reprehensible comments and actions toward women, minorities, disabled people, unattractive people, poor people, fat people, and anyone else who can’t do anything for him are totally okay. And that, in my book, makes his supporters very poor followers of Christ.
By the way, I highly doubt that God cares if H writes “ass” or I write “shit”. They’re just different words for things that everyone has and does. That’s another thing that bugs me about so-called Christians who support Trump. They’re much more concerned about policing other people’s language than they are about demanding decent behavior, competency, and proper decorum from elected officials. Trump also uses filthy language, including a well-known euphemism for vaginas. That’s keeping things above board, right?
Sigh… anyway, I think I’m done with that little online fracas. We have bigger fish to fry. Next weekend is going to be a whirlwind. We are planning to go pick up our new pooch. This was going to be a somewhat leisurely trip down to Slovenia and back by Monday. But a couple of days ago, Bill got a summons to court to serve as a witness. The hearing is taking place on the day we were planning to come back to Germany, and it requires travel to another state. So we’re going to have to rush back, and it’s going to be very exhausting and potentially frustrating, depending on traffic and border stops. With any luck, it will go off without a hitch, and we’ll have something to focus on besides politics, plagues, and police brutality.
However… I will admit that I enjoyed this little clip from yesterday’s news.
Professor Greg Patton, who teaches communications, was talking about the Chinese equivalent of “err” and “um”, you know, what we in English speaking countries say as we’re thinking about the next thing we’re going to say, but we don’t want “dead air”. It turns out that in Chinese, the “filler” language akin to our “ums” and “errs” is the Chinese word for “that”, which is evidently “na-ge”. And spoken out loud, “na-ge” sounds a bit like the taboo n-bomb.
Naturally, someone was filming the professor, and the footage made it to the Internet. Several students complained to Geoffrey Garrett, dean of the University of Southern California. And now, Professor Patton is no longer teaching the course. According to the article, Patton voluntarily stepped away, as Garrett stated:
“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,”
News of the debacle reached China, where native speakers posted on social media that the backlash was discriminatory toward speakers of Chinese. Interestingly enough, I have another friend who lived in China for awhile and she frequently told me about how racist their society is. In fact, in the Toytown Germany thread I reference later in this post, someone wrote this:
Silly and sad, just shows you how people are tripping over themselves to show how not a racist! they are. Big smiiiiiiles, eeeeeeveryone’s happy, no one’s racist here, nosirreee… All a little different from actually not being racist.
As an aside, China is an objectively far more racist society. Pot, kettle, black. The Chinese government knows full well what resonates in foreign media for political effect. Their diplomats will criticize America’s racism, while within China, Africans are called chocolate or monkeys and many restaurants or hotels forbid entry. Not to mention the current Uyghur concentration camps. There are no self-reflective large anti-racism movements.
A few months back, veteran Canadian news reporter Wendy Mesley for the CBC (like the BBC) got in deep doodoo for betraying her secret racism. While in a conference room with producers (apparently none Black?), discussing a specific episode of her show and how they should cover BLM protests and racial issues, she said that word while discussing how they should refer to this work here. It’s the title. The discussion was about that and she said the title. She was (temporarily?) removed as host and issued an apology, etc. Confession and repentance, 50 Hail Marys and 50 Our Fathers.
Obviously the word shouldn’t be used, but it’s hard to see what this kind of official censure for using it in (closed door) academic/historical contexts achieves. The reporter is known for her progressive liberal stances. Of course, CBC as a state broadcaster had to do something…
My reaction to this? Big sigh. I have already written more than once about my strong aversion to burying language and banning words, particularly when they are words that only sound like offensive words. I am also extremely irritated when people don’t have their facts straight and attempt to ban words based on untruths. But, most of all, it disappoints and offends me that people who attend a prestigious school like the University of Southern California are not intelligent enough to understand the difference between someone deliberately being hurtful by using clearly derogatory and racist language, and a professor who is actually trying to educate them about another culture and language.
Seriously? My opinion of the California USC (as opposed to the “original” USC, my alma mater, the University of South Carolina), has now dropped considerably. With all of the other crap going on right now, one would hope a famous and storied school like USC, where parents are going to prison and paying fines for cheating their kids’ ways past the admissions office, could rise above something as petty as this without it making the news. I certainly don’t think a man’s livelihood should be threatened over this incident. And it should not be international news, either!
What the hell are colleges and universities for if there can’t be a free exchange of ideas without people getting offended? Colleges and universities are supposed to be places where ideas can be born and hashed out, and language can be used in an instructional way. Professor Patton was not trying to be offensive. He was trying to educate! That’s his job!
You might be wondering about the title of this post. It comes from a recent thread on a Web site called Toytown Germany, which I joined in 2008, when we lived in Germany the first time (pre-Facebook days). I still hang out on Toytown Germany on occasion, as it’s a very useful source of information about living in Germany and the information isn’t strictly for the U.S. military affiliated population. That site has many people on it from all around the world, including Germans. The one thing they have in common is the ability to speak English.
Anyway, recently, a woman who teaches in a German school started a post about the German slang word “digga” and how she finds it offensive. The original poster teaches in an inner city school in Cologne. She’s a native English speaker from an “ethnic minority background” and she writes that she doesn’t generally try to prevent her students from using slang. However, she tried to draw the line at the word “digga”, because it sounded a lot like the n-bomb and she felt her students were using the word in a derogatory way. Clearly, it was triggering her a lot.
“Digga” is a word that originated near Hamburg. It’s basically akin to the English slang terms, “dude” or “bro”. She wrote:
I banned the word ‘digga’ in my class and I told the students that they should be ashamed to be using such language whilst considering themselves anti-racist and progressive. Now I have had a bit of pushback from a few parents who say I shouldn’t stop kids from using their German language slang.
I have had to bite my own tongue and hold back. I think parents need to listen to the music their kids are listening to, they need to pay attention to the media their kids are consuming but most are quite naive or really don’t want to know.
This lady also got quite a pushback in Toytown Germany, which isn’t surprising. That forum is not exactly “politically correct” and people will not hesitate to tell off anyone who comes off as ignorant. Many people told the teacher she was wrong to ban the word “digga”, as it is not a racist epithet. This was the first of many comments she got:
digga comes from “dicker” (a kind of fond way of addressing someone who is your friend, and it also has nothing to do with them actually being fat), it has no associations to nigga whatsoever and I agree with the parents that you are overreacting as well as overreaching. It is also not a new phenomenon, has been popular at least as long as I have lived here although back in the early 2000s it seemed like more of a Hamburg thing that kind of made its way over.
In any case it really has nothing to do with nigga.
One person was sympathetic to the teacher’s plight and wrote this:
Verbal violence is a form of abuse and precursor to other violence. It all starts somewhere. Sigh. Fighting it is an uphill battle. Letting slip leads to the abnormal becoming normalised. Saying nothing condones this undesirable behaviour. This possibly escapes the attention of the parents. However, their and your energy is limited and you have to choose how to use it. The insider connoisseurs claim the expression is harmless… but you see it in context. You don’t have an easy job!
Okay, but words are always evolving. I can think of a half dozen of them right off the bat that once were totally innocuous and later turned into insults that need to be banned. The word “faggot”, as well as its abbreviated form “fag”, for instance, has a few meanings, only one of which is derogatory. And yet if you say that word in certain places, you will face a huge backlash.
Ditto for the word “retard”, which is a perfectly innocent word with forms that are used in many languages. In fact, we heard it correctly used in France and Italy– it had to do with the train schedules. But now it’s pretty much banned in the United States.
It seems to me that we focus way too much on words and not nearly enough on attitudes and context. Instead of banning words and firing hapless professors who use certain words in their classes, we should take a moment to consider the context. Was the professor trying to be hurtful when he used that word? Was the professor being oppressive? In the case involving the USC professor, I don’t think so. In the case involving the teacher in Germany, I would argue that trying to impose the standards of one’s own language and homeland to people from another country is overreaching.
Banning words or making them taboo doesn’t change negative attitudes. A person can be racist and never drop the n-bomb. A person can be non-racist and use the n-bomb in an instructive way. Think it can’t be done? Try reading a slave narrative and banning that word. Try listening to certain musical selections where it’s referenced. “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder immediately comes to mind, as it has in my previous rants about this topic.
To the teacher’s credit, she did come back and thank everyone for setting her straight. Ultimately, she was looking for clarification and the right way to handle this situation, even taking into account that she has an “obvious walking disability” and is a person from “an ethnic minority background”. The thread continued for several pages and was revived when the news came out about the professor at the University of Southern California.
Again, I reference what Dean Geoffrey Garrett said in response to the uproar about the Chinese filler speech that sounds like the n-bomb…
“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,”
Wow. So he’s very concerned about the “psychological safety” of students in a world where they have been regularly threatened by school shooters, terrorists, cops who kill innocent people, and deadly rogue viruses like COVID-19? I mean… people are getting killed or dying by the day in the United States, sometimes while just sleeping in their own beds! And he’s worried that his students will be permanently scarred by the Chinese word “na-ge”, which just happens to sound like the n-bomb, an English slur? Seems to me that the dean needs to gain a global perspective and stop being so politically correct. Don’t be so open-minded that your brain falls out. That’s my motto.
Right now, many people are focused on simple SURVIVAL. The people who are lucky enough to attend the University of Southern California ought to know the difference between someone being hateful and derogatory toward a group of people and someone who is talking about another culture with another language. They need to grow up and wise up. In the vast majority of cases, if they’re at USC, they obviously have had a lot of things go right in their lives.
They’re in a class where they’re learning about something that most people would never have the opportunity to study because they’re too busy learning skills that will keep them alive and able to pay their bills! They are probably the last people who need to be up in arms over a professor teaching them about Chinese filler words that happen to sound like a racist epithet in some parts of the world. And if they’re offended in the classroom in California, God help them if they go to China and actually hear Chinese people saying “Na-ge” over and over again. There will be many special snowflake meltdowns!
You might say today’s post is a bit of a rerun. It involves a certain relative of mine who has been “trying to clean up [his] vocabulary.” In his quest to quit cursing, he’s taken to replacing letters in certain swear words in an attempt to “improve” his language. Why he feels compelled to do this, I don’t really know. I can only guess.
I know I’ve written about this before. In fact, I’m just now looking up when I last wrote about this topic. I see it was exactly two months ago to the day– June 30, 2020, when I wrote about how my cousin referred to “chicken shot” instead of “chickenshit”. But that post was about a memory I found on Facebook in which he and I had butted heads over a National Rifle Association ad. This cousin– I routinely refer to him as “Timmy”, although that is not his real name– got into an argument with Bill and said that his argument was “chicken shot”.
Naturally, I rolled my eyes at that, since I think it’s a waste of energy to clean up one’s language in such a way. Words and language usage do matter, of course, but I personally don’t believe in “bad” words. All words, even the really offensive ones, have a legitimate usage somewhere. Every word can be used in a non-offensive way. That includes the infamous “n-word” that gets people riled up. Try reading a slave narrative without encountering that word. Try listening to Stevie Wonder’s brilliant song, “Living For the City” without that word. Even certain episodes of 70s era sitcoms employ the n-word in a way that is useful. Sometimes the right word really is one that shocks and offends. Aside from that, I have a serious problem with black and white thinking on almost any subject, as well as issues with authority. So when it comes to language use, Timmy and I will probably always butt heads.
But never mind the n-bomb. I don’t want to get into that discussion today. I want to write about my cousin’s use of the non-word, “fike”, and how it makes him seem kind of “fake” to me now. And that makes me sad.
I don’t understand using a non-word like “fike” when it’s clear that one actually means to say “fuck”. In this instance, Timmy wasn’t even swearing. It’s not like he was saying “fuck you” to someone, trying to debase them. Even our sweet grandmother, a woman I never once heard utter a “bad word”, sometimes quoted her mother, who would swear on occasion. In my mind, Timmy wasn’t cursing in the above example. He was quoting someone else. Mind you, he also referred to using a weapon on someone who was cursing. Frankly, I prefer someone who swears, to someone who is overly casual about using weapons. Isn’t it a bit “fucked up” that Timmy writes that he would have shot more of them for using “bad language” and taking pictures? But he wants to clean up his “vocabulary”… Hmm…
Seems to me that if you change letters in a word so that it no longer spells the bad word, but it’s obvious that the bad word is what you really meant, you’ve actually accomplished nothing in your goal of “cleaning up your vocabulary”. The thought was still there, and we all know what your intent was. If Timmy really wants to upgrade his vocabulary, he should say something else or use a different, but legitimate, word in the “bad word’s” place. But I suppose that’s too much to expect from someone who thinks that guns are less offensive than four letter words are.
You see, Timmy used to be a lot of fun. Yes, he got into trouble a lot, mainly because he drank too much, got into fights, and brought his guns into places he shouldn’t have. He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie, too, and I think that influenced him to put himself in situations that made life more difficult for him and his loved ones. But when he was younger, he was free-spirited and loving. I remember him as kind to me when I was a little girl. He used to be one of my favorite relatives. I rarely got to see him when I was growing up, because he grew up in Texas and I grew up in Virginia. It was rare that his parents would bring him and his brothers to Virginia for our annual Thanksgiving shindig.
Years later, when my uncle retired from full time work, he bought a home in Virginia and resettled there with his wife, who passed away about ten years ago. Timmy and one of his brothers followed their dad east. I got to see and know my cousins more… at least the ones who came east. For awhile, Timmy was still fun. But then one day, he publicly declared himself an alcoholic and found religion (although I’m not sure he’s found Jesus yet). And now he’s drunk on religion instead of booze. I’m glad he quit drinking. His drinking legitimately got him into trouble. But it seems that he’s now traded alcohol for being a religious wingnut.
I find Timmy hard to talk to nowadays, mainly because he’s adopted this holier-than-thou smugness and seriousness that he didn’t used to have as much. He won’t say words like “shit” or “fuck”, and he’ll get upset when someone curses on his Facebook feed, but he’s ruder than ever in the way he talks down to people. I’ve seen him do it to Bill, but he is especially condescending to women– particularly women he thinks are too liberal. It’s clear to me that he looks down on people who are liberal and thinks he’s “smarter” than they are, to the point of not being willing to listen respectfully to what they have to say and learning from them, even if he disagrees.
Bill and I were talking about this yesterday. Bill thinks that sometimes, when people decide to change their lives by giving up vices such as drinking alcohol, they feel like they have to make amends for everything “bad” they did in the past. They worry excessively about offending God somehow, and they start going into overdrive, trying to become “better” people. But they don’t really recognize or change their behaviors, nor do they realize that by trying not to offend a perfect being (God), who should be above being “offended”, they annoy everybody else. They just change their obsession to something they think is more acceptable. In Timmy’s case, I think he traded boozing, cussing, and partying with being really pious, to the point of being obnoxious and insufferable.
I know that people involved in addiction recovery have a term known as “dry drunk” syndrome. Basically, it refers to a person who has stopped drinking or using drugs, but is still engaged in the negative behaviors and psychological maladies associated with their addiction(s), except for the drinking and/or drugging itself. One thing I’ve noticed among the alcoholics in my family is that they tend to be very controlling, overbearing, angry, and smug. That quality doesn’t go away when they stop drinking, although if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure that any of the alcoholics in my family ever permanently gave up the sauce. I know my dad was never able to. But they know they have a problem with booze, which only adds to the guilt, frustration, and “demon” load they’re already bearing.
One thing I’d like to tell Timmy, though, is that carrying weapons and “shooting” people who swear and take pictures is not Christlike behavior. It’s all well and good that he wants to clean up his vocabulary. If he really means it, that’s commendable. But I would much rather hear him let loose with a blue streak of cursing than see him champion gun rights people who have no qualms about shooting people they think are “punks”. And to be very honest, I suspect that Timmy has certain people in mind that he wouldn’t have issues with dispatching somehow. He would never admit it, of course, but I know he holds certain people in disdain. Again, it’s not very “Christlike” behavior, nor is it an admirable attitude. I’m sure God appreciates that one of the world’s flock has decided to say “fike” instead of “fuck”, but I’m sure he’d rather Timmy cuss than be violent. But I suppose not taking take the Lord’s name in vain is easier than not wanting to be violent.
Anyway… I know that Timmy really meant “fuck” when he wrote “fike”. And seeing him write “fike” is annoying, especially when he claims he’s only trying to “clean up his vocabulary”. As a self-identified English language snob, I wish he’d simply find a more creative but legitimate way to say what he means and mean what he says. And I wish he’d stop glorifying guns as he proclaims his love for Godliness. It’s just a load of horseshit… or “chicken shot”, if he prefers.