A few days ago, I reposted a rant I wrote in 2014. In that rant, which was originally composed on December 30, 2014, I went off about how annoyed I get when people want to “correct” each other’s opinions. At the end of the rant, I included a popular meme that included Betty White’s visage and the quote, “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” I also shared the original source(s) of that particular joke, which actually came from two comedians– Sheng Wang is partially credited, but it appears that he “borrowed” the joke from Hal Sparks, who did a hilarious routine on Showtime back in 2010. Have a look.
When I reposted that blog entry from 2014, I didn’t know that Betty White would die just two days later on New Year’s Eve, 2021. And in the wake of her death, people are, once again, sharing incarnations of that meme with the misattributed quote about how tough vaginas are. I’ve already seen it a few times, and, well, it bugs me.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you shouldn’t be surprised that the practice of misattributing quotes to celebrities bugs me. It’s especially irksome to me when the person who is being falsely attributed to a quote is dead. When a person is dead, he or she can no longer shield themselves against people who put words in their mouths.
Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” If you happen to look this quote up, you’ll see it attributed to notoriously sweet 90-year-old TV great Betty White. Only those words never passed her lips, and she’d quite like people to bear that in mind next time they see fit to quote it at her, as I have just done. “That’s what I hate about Facebook and the internet,” she sighs. “They can say you said anything. I never would have said that. I’d never say that in a million years.”
I know many people loved Betty White, and that funny quote sounds like something she could have said. I can practically hear her Golden Girls character, Rose Nylund, saying that. But she didn’t say it, and has said she never would have. She plainly said, “I never would have said that. I’d never say that in a million years.” And yet, ten years later, people still share that quote as a means of “honoring” her. Is it really honoring someone when you pair their visage with someone else’s words? Especially when that person has repeatedly and publicly stated that they’ve been misquoted or misattributed?
Betty White joins a long list of famous people who have been credited improperly for things they’ve neither said nor written. How many times have I seen George Carlin credited for writing The Paradox of Our Time, an essay that sounds a little “Carlin-esque”, but was actually written by Dr. Bob Moorehead? George isn’t the only one who has been wrongly credited with writing that essay. It’s also been credited to the Dalai Lama and an unnamed Columbine student. Obviously, many people think it’s a wise and thought provoking essay; that’s why it continually gets shared. But if people really think it’s such a great piece of writing, why not give credit where credit is due? Credit the real writer, Dr. Bob Moorehead, not George Carlin or the Dalai Lama. Take a minute to double check before you share, too.
Most of us have never met the celebrities we admire so much. I think that’s a good thing, since heroes often don’t live up to their images. I have a feeling Betty White was just as sweet in person as she seemed to be on TV, but I don’t know that for sure. She was an actress, and it was her job to be someone she wasn’t– to convincingly play a part on screen so well that people believed they knew her.
I think it’s important to remember that most of the things Betty White said while playing a character, were things that professional writers wrote for her scripts. She played parts that were initially created by someone else, and brought to life by her talent. So when Rose told a St. Olaf story, that wasn’t just Betty– that was also the person who wrote the script.
Even if that quote about the toughness of vaginas sounds like something Rose Nylund would say, we should remember that Rose Nylund wasn’t, in fact, Betty White. Betty was Betty White… and when she wasn’t playing a part, she was herself. And the vast majority of people who know her name and have seen her work, never actually knew Betty off camera. It probably was annoying to her that so many people assumed they knew her well enough to put words in her mouth, so to speak. But, in the Internet age, I’m afraid that is an occupational hazard, as she noted in her article with Michael Cragg of The Guardian.
I do hope that by sharing this post, maybe a couple of people will reconsider sharing that meme– funny as it is. The lady just died two days ago. I’m sure there are other things she actually said that could be shared instead of the “tough vagina” meme that appears to have been inspired by a couple of somewhat less famous comedians. Why not give Hal Sparks or Sheng Wang the credit? They would probably appreciate it, and since they are presumably still living, they can actually use the associated fame.
Betty White was a wonderful, talented, blessed performer who was with us for so many years. Surely we can find another funny quote that Betty actually said that we can share among our friends on Facebook or other social media. Or, better yet, instead of sharing quotes that famous people said, why not come up with some of your own wisdom? I’ll bet you can do it if you try hard enough. But… then you might have another problem.
Every once in awhile, I’ll say something clever and original, and Bill will laugh and say, “That’s funny. Who said that?”
And I’ll roll my eyes and say, “I did. Why is it that whenever I say something funny or interesting, you automatically assume I’m ripping off someone else?”
And then he laughs and apologizes, then admits that I can be clever and witty in my own right, too. In fact, he’s said that’s one of the things he likes about me.
I’m not sure why people feel the need to share quotes, anyway… I used to have a Facebook friend who almost never posted his own thoughts. He just shared things other people said. I wondered what the point of that was. Is that something people do in their everyday lives? Do people go up to others and say things like, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Gordon B. Hinckley said ‘Conflict grows out of ignorance and suspicion.'”?
I have seen many people use wise quotes online, but it’s not something I see out and about in public, not that I go out in public much nowadays. So why do we do it so often on Facebook? I’m sure some people do it to inspire thought, and there’s nothing wrong with occasionally sharing a profound quote… but I’m a lot more impressed by people who share themselves, rather the stale words some famous person said… or didn’t say. But there’s no pressure to be wise, either. Why not just be yourselves? And let famous people be THEMSELVES.
I know this post makes me sound terribly uptight… and, you know what? I’m gonna own that. We all have our little quirks. This is one of mine. Dead people, especially, can’t defend themselves against false attribution. I will keep complaining about it as long as it’s a problem… which means I’ll probably write another rant on this subject at some point. And if you don’t like it, as Eddie Murphy said, while imitating his drunk stepfather…
This post originally appeared on my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife on November 27, 2013. I am reposting it for posterity because the issue that prompted me to write the post came up in Facebook memories. The discussion I had with friends about this situation was interesting.
because I posted the following video in an exMormon group on Facebook…
I have posted Weird Wilbur’s “Most Mormons are Jackoffs” video on my blog before. It was the very first video I ever saw him do. Someone had posted it on RfM and it garnered a lot of discussion. I thought what Wilbur said, while neither particularly respectful nor gracefully stated, was largely based on truth. Wilbur made this video several years ago after an exasperating visit with his now ex-wife’s family, who are LDS. It wasn’t based on just one contact with them. Wilbur’s opinions formed after many observations and interactions.
I posted the above video in a secret exMormon group last night with the note that Joseph Smith was a “flim flam” man. And frankly, in my opinion, he was. What else would you call a man who sells a ridiculous story about golden plates with “reformed Egyptian” writing on them that he “translated” by looking at them with “seer stones” in a hat? This same man went on to “marry” girls as young as 14 and the wives of other men.
Anyway, the first comment from a male member of the group was that Wilbur is an “asshat”. I responded that I don’t think Wilbur is an asshat. Then several other males piled on, calling it hate speech and saying that I “should have picked a ‘better video’.” It soon became very condescending and sexist. That thread went on all day, and eventually turned into a discussion about Mormons and sexism, mainly because a number of the men in that group were trying to “school” the feisty women-folk who stuck up for me. I opted out of the group soon after the men started becoming offensive, because I ain’t got the time for that shit.
I was suddenly reminded of an awful interaction I had with an otherwise nice LDS couple I met while in the Peace Corps in Armenia. They, too, were serving in the Peace Corps and had impressed me by being attractive, hard-working, and basically nice people. I happened to mention to them that I had read the book Secret Ceremonies by the late Deborah Laake. I didn’t know it at the time, but that book was very controversial to Mormons. The male half of the LDS couple basically shamed me for reading “trash” that was full of lies about their religion.
At the time, I was shocked. I hadn’t meant to offend them. Yes, I read the book, but at the time I didn’t have negative opinions about Mormonism. I didn’t know enough about it to have negative opinions, despite having read Laake’s personal account about her experiences growing up LDS. I didn’t say to them what I should have said… or really, should have asked. And that was, “Have you read the book? If not, how can you tell me it’s full of lies?” They hadn’t read the book. They wouldn’t read it, because church officials had condemned it and they were told it was trash. Then they shamed me for reading it, even though I am not LDS and didn’t get the memo… and even if I had, I still have the right to my own thoughts and opinions.
Deborah Laake was an outstanding, award winning journalist. Years after that encounter, I re-read the book with Bill, who is a former Mormon. He confirmed to me that what Laake had written was true, though much of the book was full of uncomfortable aspects of Mormonism that church leaders would have rather kept under wraps and away from the wondering eyes of those who “can’t understand” Mormonism. Laake was invited to many talk shows and at every taping, a group of Mormons would show up and try to drown her out. She later died by her own hand, because she had breast cancer that was resistant to treatment. She chose to kill herself rather than wait for cancer to kill her. Some may think she was crazy for making that choice. Having never had cancer, I don’t feel it’s my place to judge.
Now, I have read Secret Ceremonies twice. I reviewed it on Epinions and, I think, gave it a fair rating (if I recall correctly, it was four stars, although I can no longer check). The truth is, Deborah Laake’s book heavily emphasizes sex… and sexual problems that she specifically had. She blamed her issues on the LDS church. Some of her issues probably were caused by religion. Many of her problems probably weren’t. However, the book she wrote is not full of lies.
As for Wilbur’s video, I will admit and agree that what he says, and the way he says it, may be hard for people to hear. But at least his opinion is an informed one, and isn’t based on just one interaction. The group of guys who accused me of posting “hate speech” based their opinions on just one video Wilbur made after a frustrating encounter with Mormon in laws. Wilbur later took the video down, but someone else reposted it.
A couple of years after Wilbur posted his “Mormons are jackoffs” video, he posted another one to Mormons because he needed help from the “families first” church. At the time, his son and daughter-in-law were having troubles with CPS and Wilbur asked Mormon viewers, who supposedly support families, for help in fighting child protective services on behalf of his grandchildren. The video he made was later taken down and, to my knowledge, is no longer posted anywhere. I remember being dumbfounded that he was asking for this help from Mormons, since Wilbur does not live a Mormon friendly lifestyle. He smokes, drinks, swears, chases women and doesn’t attend church. I imagine most devout Mormons, meeting him once, would never support him in his bid to “save” his grandchildren from CPS. I bet most of them would base that opinion on just one encounter. It wouldn’t take the repeated run-ins Wilbur had with his former in-laws that prompted his frustrated “hate” video.
I got to know Wilbur after he posted that video and we’ve sort of become friends (ETA: in 2021, I no longer hang with Wilbur– he went too far down the Trump rabbit hole). I most certainly do not agree with all of his opinions, especially pertaining to politics. But I don’t think he’s guilty of posting “hate speech” when he says that “most Mormons are jackoffs”. If anything, Wilbur is guilty of negatively painting a large group of people with a broad brush, which is something that a lot of people do, especially when they are angry or frustrated. I think if I were subjected to repeated visits from people in my own home, self-righteously lecturing me about my habits and repeatedly trying to invoke a church I’m not a member of, I’d come to a similar conclusion.
What’s more, I think it’s somewhat hypocritical that several people in that group were so deeply offended by Wilbur’s thoughts when members of that very same group recently made a game out of disrespecting the church… to the point of having sex in church parking lots and taking photos of themselves flipping off temples, then awarding each other “points” for doing so. I don’t remember people screaming about hatred and asshats when that was going on… but I guess since I’ve never been LDS, I’m held to a different standard.
*Sigh*…. well, at least it’s Thanksgiving weekend and I’m not visiting my parents. I’ll have to post about that next.
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And now from 2021…
Here’s a link to a news story about Deborah Laake’s infamous book, Secret Ceremonies, which I first read in 1994, when it was first published. At the time, I knew nothing about Mormonism, and was five years from meeting Bill. I didn’t have negative opinions about the church, even after reading that book. In fact, it wasn’t until I saw firsthand the damage done to families by the church that I started having a less positive opinion about Mormonism.
In the below video, you can hear a formerly devout ex-member explain why he left Mormonism. In the video, he explicitly says that not believing in the church threatened to end his marriage. And I have seen how families fracture when people decide they don’t believe anymore. You see families become estranged– children threatened or actually cut off from their parents or their siblings or both… and marriages falling apart. That’s pretty fucked up.
Most LDS church members have never read Secret Ceremonies, yet they claim it’s full of lies. Bill, who has been LDS, confirmed to me that it’s not full of lies. Moreover, the church does have a lot of “issues”, which are easily discovered on the Internet. I, personally, no longer have such strong opinions against Mormonism as I did in 2013. I still think it’s a crock of shit and needlessly complicates lives, but I am grateful that LDS church members helped Bill’s daughter escape the mini cult run by her mother… who is responsible for getting the family involved in the church in the first place.
Anyway… I just thought it was interesting to re-read the Facebook post that prompted me to write the above post in 2013. The thread is too long and convoluted to add to this post, but it was quite a shitstorm.
Here’s a post I wrote in November 2018. It’s mostly “as/is”.
Negative comments are interesting. A lot of times, they inspire me in ways you wouldn’t expect. I have kind of a strange mind sometimes. It goes off into tangents, some of which turn out to be totally goofy. Yesterday, Bill and I were directed into goofy territory when I looked up the meaning of the expression “bite me”. A couple of days ago, I wrote a post entitled “Hate my blog? Bite me.” My inspiration for that post came, in part, from some drama that has erupted on my blog recently. It’s not just “Wondering Why’s” negative comment about how I’m so bitter and post so much “inappropriate” stuff. It’s also because of other people who feel the need to try to “police” what I write in my blog.
“The Overeducated Housewife” is my first and probably most read blog simply due to the fact that it’s eight years old (ETA: in 2021, it’s 11 years old). But around these parts, it’s my travel blog that gets more notice (no longer true). Because of the community I live in and the fact that military folks can be excruciatingly uptight about some things, I try to keep the travel blog somewhat clean. Every now and then, a little profanity slips in, and I make no secret about how much Bill and I enjoy booze tourism. We aren’t necessarily a “wholesome” couple. But I do try to keep the personal drama to a minimum on that blog. It’s somewhat PG by my standards.
This blog, by contrast, gets a lot of weird shit posted on it. Some of it is very personal, profane, and “inappropriate”. Some of it’s kind of silly and funny. I use a lot more swear words on this blog. It’s “rated R”.
Then I have the music blog, which I update maybe once or twice a month. I would probably delete it altogether, but for some reason, people are obsessed with my post about Richard Carpenter’s daughter, Mindi. To date, my post about Mindi Carpenter has garnered well over 100,000 hits. It’s my most popular post of all time. I really don’t know why, but as long as it gets hits, I figure I might as well get some ad revenue. (still thinking of deleting it because I never update it much anymore, but I want to get paid, first)…
Anyway… back to the subject at hand. I was writing about tangents, and it’s time I came back from the latest one. A couple of days ago, I wrote my post about people who hate blogs and bloggers. I used the expression, “Bite me.” I used that expression because it’s a somewhat sanitized version of saying “fuck off”. In truth, I am much more likely to say “fuck off” than “bite me”. In fact, I can’t think of any time recently that I invited someone to “bite me”. It’s just not a phrase I use very often. “Fuck off”, on the other hand, is a favorite expression of mine. It’s very ladylike, you see.
Sometimes I get curious about language. I find the origin of words and expressions fascinating. I love to read Urban Dictionary, where people post definitions for common slang words and idioms in the English language. I looked up “bite me.” and, sure enough, Urban Dictionary had a definition. But then I stumbled across another site called English Language & Usage. Six people also included information about the origin of the expression “bite me”. The first answer posted was rather pedestrian, but the second one was fascinating. Have a look…
This made me laugh hysterically for a few minutes. I was especially amused by a subsequent comment left by someone who said it was equivalent to saying “Eff you”, then apologizing that he could not bring himself to “say” it.
While you can use the phrase when you mean “deal with it”, I am of the opinion that it most emphatically doesn’t mean “deal with it”, but instead is closer to when you don’t like what the other person has said or done, and express your contempt. It’s really not different than “eff you” (sorry, I can’t bring myself to say it). – ErikENov 27 ’12 at 9:04
Some people really cringe at the idea of using vulgarity and being “inappropriate”… I think they must live very constrained lives, but if it makes ’em happy, what’s it to me?
The person who provided the above screenshot information immediately charmed me for being so apologetic and polite about the original raunch factor of “bite me”. I had no idea. There are several more answers posted about the origin of “bite me”, most of which caused me to giggle and reminded me of the old show, Crank Yankers, which used to be aired on Comedy Central a lot. Crank Yankers consisted of comedians using puppets to act out crank calls they made to people. There was a character on that show named Niles Standish, who was “inappropriate” on the phone as they pranked some unsuspecting guy who was looking for some phone sex.
I don’t often say “bite me” to people, because to me, it’s about as non-sensical as calling someone a douche. I have ranted about my aversion to the word “douche” used as an insult on several occasions, so I’m not going to rehash it. I’ll just say that, to me, calling someone a “douche” doesn’t make sense, nor does it make sense to say “bite me”, although I do know the conventional meaning of both expressions. I just used “bite me” a couple of days ago because it seemed less profane, and I’d rather not be profane in my blog post titles, if I can help it. But then, if you think about it, calling someone a “douche” or inviting them to bite you is actually very offensive if you consider what those expressions really mean. It’s just that they’re used so often that people are now kind of unfazed by them. They’ve become almost sanitized… and even somewhat “appropriate”. You might even hear someone say it in church.
Because I enjoy oversharing, as regular readers of this blog certainly know, I shared on Facebook that Bill and I were having a stimulating discussion about vulgar English idioms. I wasn’t surprised when a number of my friends who know me well had a good laugh at that. Bill and I often discuss things that would never cross anyone else’s minds. That’s why we’re perfect for each other. We ended the evening by watching early episodes of America’s Next Top Model, where there was certainly a lot of “inappropriate” behavior. I think many people secretly love it when others are “inappropriate”. It’s the sticks in the mud who feel that a high level of decorum must be maintained by all means that ruin it for everyone else.
I’m sure plenty of people read some of my posts and wonder “WTF is wrong with that woman?” They wouldn’t be the first to wonder that. My own mother used to loudly exclaim, “Where did you come from?!” whenever I said or did anything she found inappropriate, obnoxious, or weird. I always wanted to tell her that I came from an unfortunate night she spent fucking my father… and then I slid out of her womb, between her legs, all purplish and wet, kicking and screaming into the hellhole of life. But, because I do have a sense of decorum and did not want to be knocked into the next month, I did not tell her where I literally came from. The fact is, I came from their come… She could have spared us all a lot of grief if she and my dad had just taken a cold shower and gone bowling or something. Ah well… I will keep thinking and writing about goofy, inappropriate shit that upsets, shocks, annoys, and offends people. Then, some blessed day, I won’t be able to write anymore and the world will be spared these weird, inappropriate postings from me.
In May of 2013, Bill and I were sitting at a train station in Venice, Italy. We were waiting to catch our ride to Florence on Italo, a then brand new private Italian train company. As we were waiting, we heard an announcement in Italian about a train that was significantly delayed. The pre-recorded announcement did not use the word “delay”. Instead, it included an Italian incarnation of the word “retard”, used as an adjective.
Bill turned to me and said, “Now you see… there’s an instance in which the word “retard” is used in a completely non-offensive way.”
I have never forgotten that conversation, especially as more and more “woke” types feel the need to outright ban certain words from the English language. I am all for avoiding deliberately insulting others, especially those who suffer from any kind of intellectual disabilities that are beyond their control.
However, as I realized when we were at the train station in Italy, words have many nuances, usages, and definitions. Some words are inherently offensive, and almost always used in a hurtful way. And sometimes, people deliberately take offense at the use of a “taboo” word when absolutely no harm is intended. That causes problems that could just as easily be avoided if the person would simply be more mature and stop being willfully ignorant.
It’s been many years since I last used the word “retard” in the taboo way, although I will admit that in the 1980s, it was a word that was flung around on playgrounds and school busses with the greatest of ease. It was also used in plenty of 70s and 80s era comedies, both on television and in the movies. I can think of two films off the top of my head– very popular movies that still remain popular today–in which characters use the word “retard” as an insult.
Today, those films would probably not be made with the word “retard” used as an insult, although I would not be surprised if some incarnation of the word “douche” was used in its place. Personally, I find the word “douche” offensive for several reasons, but I’m not campaigning to have it banned. In many cultures, the word “douche” just means “shower”, and is perfectly useful and non-offensive. So rather than trying to get the word “douche” banned, I simply avoid using it myself.
As a lover of language, I can’t quite bring myself to jump on the “ban-wagon” when it comes to any word, even the ones that can start riots. I never think of words as things that should ever be banned, even when they are deemed very “offensive”. Instead, I am more concerned about context and the attitude behind the use of language. And yes, that means that I think words that people routinely campaign to have struck from the language are sometimes acceptable to use in certain contexts. To avoid being offended, it’s up to people to grow up and not be deliberately obtuse. Otherwise, they’re doomed to stay butthurt.
This morning, someone shared the below post on Facebook. If I had already had my coffee, I probably would have just rolled my eyes and ignored it. But instead, I left a response. Basically, I wrote that the word “retard” is only a slur if it’s used as an insult. There are other ways to use it that are totally neutral.
I knew I might regret leaving that comment, but the friend who shared this is usually a very understanding person. I figured she’d get what I mean. Besides, while I understand people being aggravated by insulting, demeaning language, I am aggravated by people who presume to tell me what I can or cannot say or write.
I think people should be responsible for their own use of language; most of them don’t need the language police to remind them to be “politically correct”. Frankly, I’m fed up with people who use social media as a place for that kind of soap box activism, particularly when all they’ve done is shared someone else’s viral post. Facebook was originally supposed to be fun, wasn’t it?
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before someone came along and tried to school me about how the word “retard” is never acceptable. This person wrote that it’s no longer used by professionals and it’s outdated, etcetera, etcetera.
My response– simply because I was feeling stubborn and my verbal restraint reflex was somewhat “retarded”– was that yes, in fact, sometimes the word “retard” is perfectly acceptable and unoffensive. That word has other meanings besides the insulting one. The word “retard”, when used as a verb, means “to slow or delay”. That was how it was used at the train station in Italy. No one got offended when it was used in that way. I can think of other ways the word “retard” can be used that shouldn’t cause offense to anyone.
The person who challenged me came back and posted that she’s got autism. Actually, I believe she wrote that she’s “autistic”, and has an “autistic” child. I was a little surprised that she put it that way, since I thought the emphasis was supposed to be on the person rather than the condition. Like– I thought it was more politically correct to say, “I have autism” rather than “I’m autistic.” But I am not in that world, so I don’t know, and I wouldn’t presume to tell someone who is in that world how they should refer to themselves.
Besides, I don’t think of autism as something inherently good or bad. My husband’s older daughter is supposedly on the spectrum, but we know she is a brilliant artist and she’s proven that there’s nothing wrong with her intellect. I don’t know if she’s sorry she has autism. She no longer speaks to Bill. But, based on what I know about her, she’s got plenty of things going for her besides the condition of autism.
I responded to my friend’s friend that I was sorry that people have used the word “retard” in an offensive way, and that she is offended by its use. But I am not going to be told that I can’t use a word that I know is perfectly acceptable in many situations, simply because some group says it’s “offensive”, in and of itself. That’s wrong.
The challenger then asked me to use the word “retard” in an unoffensive way. So I wrote something along the lines of, “I see no reason to retard the development of languages by banning specific words.”
She then wrote that my answer was “stupid”. There was more to her comment, but I quit reading, because she made it clear that respectful communication and education weren’t her goals. Instead, it appeared that she wanted to disparage my intellect by referring to my answer as “stupid”. That’s brilliant, isn’t it? I guess she didn’t see the irony. She’s lecturing me about not ever using the word “retard” because it’s disrespectful and hurtful, but then she uses the word “stupid” to describe my comment and, based on her perceived tone, my intellect.
I truly didn’t want to get into a pissing match with this person, since I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me. If she did know me, she might be surprised by how “not stupid” I am, at least compared to the average person. Even if she did still think I’m stupid after meeting me, that would obviously be her uninformed and incorrect opinion.
I realized, however, that my time would probably be wasted trying to continue the conversation. As I didn’t want to get into a legitimate argument, I wrote “So now you are insulting me. That’s very nice. Have a good day.”
Normally, when a person writes “Have a good day.”, that means they’re done with the discussion and are politely trying to bow out. I figure that’s a more respectful way of leaving the conversation than telling them to “fuck off” is. But, as this person says she has autism, I guess she didn’t pick up on the social cue. She came back and wrote, “Feeling insulted, huh?” then continued with more insults…
I guess, if I were going to assign an emotion to how I felt about her response, it would be “annoyed” or maybe “puzzled”. It does seem strange to be preached at by a stranger about not offending people with intellectual disabilities by calling them “retarded” (which I never did), and then, in the next breath, having that same person refer to my comment as “stupid”.
If I had written that I thought her comment was “retarded”, what would her response be? Isn’t “stupid” just as offensive as “retarded”? At least the word “retard”, even when used an insulting way, indicates a medical condition that a person can’t help. Stupid just means a person or thing is dull-witted and unintelligent, whether or not they can help being that way. I can’t think of many ways the word “stupid” could be used that isn’t negative.
I wrote something akin to, “No, I’m not ‘feeling insulted’. You’re being hypocritical, and I have other things to do. So kindly enjoy your day, and I will continue to speak and write as I please.” I truly wasn’t “insulted” by her comment, because I would have to care about her opinion to be insulted by it. But I will admit to being annoyed by her comments and her erroneous presumptions about me. Especially, since I truly didn’t attempt to insult her.
Then she wrote some sarcastic remark about how I can keep “offending” people with special needs, but at that point, I used my block button. Because I do actually have better things to do with my time today than argue with a perfect stranger about my vocabulary. Hell, cleaning the lint out of my belly button would be a better use of my time than continuing that unproductive discussion with someone whose mind is currently closed. She obviously didn’t see my point, and wasn’t going to try to see it. Instead, she was hellbent on “winning” the argument, and doing so in a disrespectful, non-empathic way. Still, she failed to convince me, so I guess she can keep fighting the good fight with someone else.
Some people might point out that I probably “asked” for this unpleasant exchange. I would agree with them that it’s mostly pointless to point out these kinds of language discrepancies among friends. A person who would share an image like the one above probably has strong feelings about the subject matter, but hasn’t thought very long and hard about them, and is just looking for likes and loves, rather than actual commentary.
On the other hand, I do get annoyed when some busybody presumes to correct my language. I’m an adult, and fully responsible for what I say and do. If I say something egregiously obnoxious or offensive, it may be appropriate to call me out for that. But I don’t really need my friends to pre-emptively instruct me on the proper way to use language.
Moreover, I think my opinions matter as much as anyone else’s do. I’ve spent my life being told that my thoughts and feelings don’t matter, so I tend to be strong-willed and argumentative about these things, now that I am an adult. I realize it’s hard to be assertive about such things without still inadvertently offending people. Such is life.
I do get irritated when people try to tell me how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. I think it’s disrespectful to try to read people’s minds, especially when they’re strangers. Maybe I would be happier if I just “let it go”, but I think that people who are able to do that often don’t think about much more other than what’s right in front of them.
Either that, or they’re like that Japanese monk Bill and I ran into a few years ago, who just radiated peace, serenity, and calmness. I have seen very few people like that in my lifetime. I would actually LOVE to be like that monk… although I realize I am ASSUMING he is actually as calm as he appeared. For all I know, he’s got a hot temper.
Perhaps today I will go out of my way to use the word “retard” in non-offensive ways. Of course, around here, most people speak German and don’t speak to me, anyway, so that effort might be lost on them. Also… when it comes to grammar policing, all bets are off.
Last night and this morning, Bill and I have enjoyed a stimulating discussion, partly inspired by an article I read in The Atlantic yesterday, and partly inspired by my being “triggered” by something that popped up in my Facebook memories. The article in The Atlantic was entitled “Even Trigger Warning Is Now Off Limits”. It was written by John McWhorter, a man who doesn’t mind that people are now being encouraged to refer to everyone as “they”, rather than referring to them by their apparent gender. McWhorter is fine with replacing gender specific words like “actress” and “waitress” with “actor” or “server” or maybe “waitron”. But he stops short at forbidding terms like “trigger warning”, “walk-in”, “insane” or “dumb”, all of which are now deemed “oppressive” by some people.
Brandeis University’s Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center (PARC) has taken the time to compose a list of “oppressive language” terms that need to be replaced by the considerate and “woke” among us. And McWhorter, who clearly thinks of himself as a thoughtful and considerate person, has taken issue with some of the words on the list. As I read his article yesterday, I let out a big groan and said, “That’s ridiculous.”
Then I started ranting to Bill about how it’s unreasonable to expect people to completely change their way of speaking– the way they’ve been speaking and writing since birth– just to appear to be more “sensitive” to supposedly oppressed people. What right do these “woke” types have to pressure people into changing their language, as if they are the authority on what is, and what is not, respectful? What about people doing the best they can to show consideration for each other?
I’m all for being respectful and kind to others, and if someone tells me they’d rather I refer to them with different pronouns or adjectives, I’m happy to try to oblige. But some of this stuff is just plain lunacy. PARC is hoping people will, for instance, stop using terms like “triggered” (because of gun violence), “rule of thumb” (because of an old British law that permitted husbands to beat their wives, as long as the implement used was narrower than one’s thumb), or “freshman” (first year student is supposedly less offensive). They don’t like the term “walk-in”, because not everyone is able to walk, nor do they like “crazy” or “insane”, because those words might offend people who have psychological problems.
PARC wants the word “slave” to go out of style. Instead, we should say “enslaved person”, because it puts the person first and recognizes that the condition of slavery was imposed on a person, and shouldn’t be used to define them. And they also claim it’s wrong to refer to “African-Americans”. Instead, we should refer to them as “Black” (with a capital B) because the term African-American can be interpreted as “othering”– as in not recognizing that a dark skinned person who has never been to Africa may not want to be grouped in such a way.
But doesn’t it also hinder communication to take the time to worry about such things to excess? Why should we assume that a person will be offended? Isn’t that kind of presumptuous, in and of itself?
Personally, I don’t like the trend of capitalizing the word “Black”, but not doing the same for the word “White”… because I think people should try to think in terms of equality as much as possible, even if equality is still a long ways off. We’ll never get there if we’re granting special conditions to certain groups… not that I expect to see true equality in my lifetime. I appreciate that the Washington Post does capitalize both “Black” and “White”. I wish The New York Times would do the same. No one can help what racial group they were born into, so no group should be granted special deference. If you’re gonna capitalize the word “Black”, you should do the same for all racial groups, as far as I’m concerned. I realize that some people may feel the need to try to “correct” my opinions about this, but I doubt my mind will change. Maybe I’m just too old and rigid. 😉
The African-American designation, in my opinion, really never should have been in style. I have always resisted it. When I was growing up, Black people were referred to as “black”. But then that became problematic, because some folks felt that the term black was offensive, since the shade black sometimes has negative connotations. For instance, if you watch old movies, the good guys wear white and the bad guys wear black. So, back in the 90s, it was considered better to refer to Black people as “African-American”, even if they had never been to the continent or, in fact, weren’t American. And it also didn’t take into account that there are people from Africa who are not dark skinned. Actually, according to the intellectuals at Brandeis, it’s also wrong to generically refer to “people of color” when one is referring to specific groups. I’ll be sure to make a note of that.
The people at PARC also want you to stop saying “Long time no see” or “No can do”. Why? Because those two expressions are “broken English” that originated from making fun of non-English speakers. I think that’s interesting, but I also think it’s ridiculous for people to be seriously offended by those expressions. Not when there are people who don’t have enough to eat, adequate healthcare, or a roof over their heads. Overly politically correct people are not much fun to be around or talk to, in my experience. They’re usually too busy being focused on the language used and its style, rather than the substance of what is actually said and the overall context. That means the politically correct among us usually miss the point.
Frankly, I would love to see the end of the word “douche” used in a pejorative way. In many parts of the world, a douche is a shower… and even in the United States, a douche is really a box of cleanser used mostly by women on a certain part of their body. To me, it’s illogical to call someone a douche, so I refuse to do it. Some people hate it when someone says something “sucks”, which was originally an offensive sexual expression that really only applied to women and gay men. Of course, so many people use the words “douche” and “sucks”, that they are now kind of removed from their original meanings. The same could be said in reverse about words like “faggot”. In some parts of the world, a faggot is a sausage or a bundle of sticks. A fag is a slang term for cigarette. But a group of Americans have deemed that word “offensive” and “taboo”, so we can’t use it… or the word “retard”, for that matter, even though “retard” is a perfectly useful word when it’s not being used as an insult that refers to a person’s intelligence level or lack thereof.
I don’t have a problem with the concept of being more thoughtful and kind about one’s language. However, I do have concerns that too much emphasis on language policing can have a chilling effect on communication and the sharing of ideas. I think people should be encouraged to communicate. Yes, they should also be encouraged to be kind and sensitive about offensive language as much as possible, but it’s more important that they talk, even if what is said is uncomfortable. Effective communication leads to mutual understanding and, hopefully, ultimately some respect.
I read some of the Facebook comments about how PARC may be overdoing it in the politically correct language police arena. Quite a few people seemed to have the same impression I did, which was pretty much a big sigh and rolling of the eyes. It takes time and effort to change language. Some people will resist it, because it’s annoying to have someone– particularly if they’re young and academic– correcting language one has been using since toddlerhood. Moreover, Brandeis University is a famously liberal school in Massachusetts. The thought police residing there don’t represent all people from around the world. I’m aware that there are groups in the United States and Europe who think it’s important to stop referring to people as “he” or “she”, but I also know that there are many people who are simply focused on survival. The last thing they give a fuck about is whether or not someone is offended by gender specific pronoun use. There are also a lot of languages that have feminine and masculine words as features of the language itself. It would be a hell of a chore to change those constructs simply to make politically correct people happier.
So then, once Bill and I were done with our conversation last night, we went to bed. I woke up this morning to look at my Facebook memories. This time of year is actually kind of historically shitty for me, as July is a month in which I’ve endured a number of setbacks. In different years, July has been the month during which I lost my dad and my grandmother (the only grandparent I ever really knew personally). It’s also been a time of year when we’ve had to move, or gotten terminal diagnoses for beloved pets of ours. I probably shouldn’t look at Facebook memories in the month of July… but anyway, I did look this morning, and was immediately “triggered” (there’s that forbidden term again).
One year ago, I posted this:
“Why do people send memes via PM? Especially without comment?”
I don’t like getting PMs from people unless the PM is regarding something important. I find PMs distracting and annoying. Historically, I’ve gotten abusive or obnoxious messages from strangers via PM. If it were up to me, I’d turn off that feature or open it only to certain people.
But anyway, what happened was that a year ago, I was complaining about face masks. It wasn’t that I wasn’t following the rules. I have never not worn a face mask when one was required. I was simply complaining about them on my Facebook page. If you read last year’s blog posts, you’ll find that I bitched a LOT about masks, which apparently led some people to think I needed “re-education” on this matter. For the record, I don’t. I have a master’s degree in public health and am quite well aware of science. Science told me to STAY HOME and away from other people, which is what I did. So far, it’s successfully kept me well. I’m also fully vaccinated and, even though Germany is finally opening up, I still stay pretty socially distanced, mainly because people annoy me.
A person– supposedly a friend– passive aggressively sent me a meme about wearing face masks and how selfish “anti” maskers are. She didn’t comment on the meme. She just passed it along to me via PM, leaving me to wonder how I should take it. Was she trying to share a funny meme with me, or was it a dig? Frankly, the fact that she sent it without comment pissed me off, so I posted about it. Another “friend”, whom I promptly unfriended that day, continued the passive aggressive trend by leaving a cryptic comment and “laughing” at me. This “friend” left the impression that she and her meme forwarding pal had been talking amongst themselves about what was on my page. And instead of actually acting like friends and addressing it directly with me, felt the need to send me their passive aggressive crap via PM.
A year ago, I was pretty much fed up with everything, so I was happy to remove a lot of people from my social media. Seems odd to me that such evolved people wouldn’t have taken it upon themselves to spare me the trouble by unfriending me themselves, since they didn’t like what I had to say, and didn’t want to talk to me about it. And yes, I did rant about it. I’m childish that way.
I see in last year’s post, I ranted about how the woman I unfriended also used to give me shit because she was offended by my comments about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I suspect she assumes I’m a bigot because I don’t like the LDS church. But instead of talking to me about why I have these opinions and hearing what I have to say, she just dismisses me as a “bigot”.
I have what I think are very good reasons for my negative opinions about the church. And my feelings are about the church and its doctrines and practices, not so much the specific members within it. My opinions were also not formed in a vacuum. I didn’t just decide that I “hate” Mormons… and I don’t actually hate them, by the way. I just have a problem with the way many of them behave, particularly when someone decides it’s no longer for them and they want to leave the faith. I also realize that Mormons aren’t the only ones who do this. They just happen to be the specific group who affected me personally.
I don’t like that Ex used the LDS religion in her parental alienation campaign against Bill. While the church may not specifically encourage divorced people to engage in alienation, many of its practices do encourage it to happen. It doesn’t take a genius to see it. Non members can’t, for instance, see their faithful children get married in the temple. People have gotten custody agreements amended over whether or not a parent takes their child to church. People– including children– have even killed or been killed over this issue.
The fact that LDS teachings and practices can easily be used in parental alienation tactics is one reason why I don’t like the religion. I should be allowed to say that, especially since what I’m saying is based in reality. I’m not picketing or writing letters to get Mormonism outlawed. I still respect everyone’s rights to believe whatever they want in terms of religion. But I should have the right to say that I don’t like Mormonism without someone automatically making negative judgments about my character. Have the basic decency to actually listen to and consider what I have to say before you decide that about me– especially if you’re going to lecture me about being respectful and considerate toward others.
I also know that this particular former online “friend” has issues with Scientology, which is also considered to be a religion by some people. She was fine with criticizing Scientologists, openly claiming that their beliefs are “nuts”. But she doesn’t want to hear criticism of Mormonism because it’s more “mainstream”, and she thinks that criticizing religion is “disrespectful”, even if there are some legitimately fucked up things about said religion that people are discouraged from openly discussing, for fear of alienating or offending them. And she assumed that she was more evolved and “woke” than I am, simply because she believes she’s more open to religion than I am.
I highly doubt this woman knows nearly as much, or has as much personal experience, with the fallout of leaving Mormonism as Bill and I do. It would be one thing if I had simply decided not to like the LDS church without knowing anything at all about it. But I know a lot about Mormonism, and my feelings about it are based on things I’ve personally seen and experienced.
I’ve actually spent years studying the church, and I know many members and ex-members. My opinions weren’t formed out of ignorance. But this former online acquaintance treated me like an ignorant person and didn’t bother to hear me out. Instead, she lectured, shamed, and engaged in passive aggression. That’s not how a friend behaves. Moreover, if she had taken the time to have a serious discussion with me, rather than just assuming I’m a bigot, she might find that my opinions make some sense. Or she might not… but at least she would have granted me the consideration of trying to make my case without just dismissing me as ignorant, inconsiderate, and ill-mannered.
I’ve found that the older I get, the less time and interest I have in engaging with people who want to tell me how to think, what to say, or how I should behave. If the snarky chick from last year had enough respect for me to hear and respect the reasons why I feel the way I do about Mormonism, maybe she’d understand me better. Maybe she might have even found and been a real friend, rather than someone who lurks and stirs up shit on other people’s social media accounts, and then acts holier than thou about showing “respect” for people’s religious beliefs and COVID etiquette. I find her behavior to be hypocritical, at the very least.
The bottom line is, people should certainly try to communicate with each other. We should listen to each other and show as much respect as we can muster, whenever possible. But respect is a two way street. Being overly concerned about certain so-called “outdated language” being offensive to other people is as much of a barrier to communication as being overtly offensive is. Sure, it’s ineffective to swear at people, because they’ll just tune out your diatribe. But I think it’s also ineffective to nitpick at what people say, calling their words offensive when it’s clear that no offense was actually intended. I think it’s important to listen to what a person is actually saying before dismissing what they say as “offensive”, “bigoted”, or “ignorant.” In other words, some woke people aren’t really that woke, if you know what I mean.
As for the existence of ivory tower intellectual infested PARC, I’m sure if my hero George Carlin was still alive, he’d be having a field day with that. As one Facebook commenter wrote yesterday, “That’s absurd. Fuck those people.” Ah, what the hell… here’s George. I know I’ve shared it before, but it bears repeating.
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