Biden, politicians, politics, Trump

“Joe Biden sucks…”

Yesterday, I noticed a complaint on social media about gas prices. It was posted by Republican Idaho gubernatorial candidate, Janice McGeachin. At this writing, according to Wikipedia, McGeachin is currently Idaho’s 43rd lieutenant governor. And based on the gas receipt she posted, and her snarky jab at Joe Biden, she thinks Biden is to blame for higher fuel prices.

Um… is Joe Biden really responsible for this? Seems like a cheap shot based on emotion rather than facts.

Now… don’t get me wrong. It sucks to have to pay a lot for gas. Over here in Europe, we’re well acquainted with high gas prices. Here, you pay by the liter, and it’s a lot more expensive than what you pay in the United States. That’s why Americans who live in Europe under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) are entitled to buy gas on military installations and/or use coupons at participating Esso stations, where they get a substantial break on fuel prices.

I remember in the late 90s and early 00s, just before 9/11, gas hovered at around 99 cents to $1.10 a gallon. It was a blessing for me, since I was in grad school and had little money, but had to do client home visits in my car. You’re damned right I’m glad gas didn’t cost then what it costs now, even in the US.

But– can we really blame Joe Biden for higher gas prices? According to multiple sources, the answer to that question is “no”. There are a number of reasons why the price of gas has gone up. One major reason is that the demand has increased as people leave lockdown and go back to commuting or leisure traveling. Another major reason is because there’s less fuel available because people weren’t working. It’s the same reason why, when you go to McDonald’s, you may be facing a skeleton crew and things take longer. People are expecting things to be like they were pre-pandemic. But things aren’t like that, and probably won’t be like that for a good, long while, if ever again. Seriously, though… gas has gone up because the demand is up, and there’s less to go around. That’s got nothing to do with Biden. In fact, isn’t reopening the economy what Republicans wanted?

Aside from that, gas prices aren’t something presidents can easily control. According to the CNN link I posted in the previous paragraph, “the price of gas is determined by four major factors: taxes, the cost of marketing and distribution, refining, and the cost of crude oil. Biden’s enacted policies have not currently had a significant effect on any of these four factors.” It surprises and saddens me that as a lieutenant governor, particularly one who would like to be governor, Janice McGeachin doesn’t understand how this works. I suspect that if she does win the governor’s race in Idaho, she may be in for similar treatment, though. People will blame her for shit she can’t control, either.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Some woman, in response to the lieutenant governor’s post, wrote “Joe Biden sucks, and y’all know it!”

I was feeling cheeky, so I wrote “But Trump swallows.”

The lady wrote back something along the lines of, “Ooh, what a creative response!”

To which I wrote, “I could say the same thing about your comment. Besides, Donald Trump DOES swallow. Especially Big Macs and Whoppers!”

If you think about it, we ALL swallow, don’t we? Unless we have a feeding tube or something. That’s a function of healthy living. Does Biden literally suck? Maybe… although he probably doesn’t suck as much as he did as a baby. But that’s true for most of us, too.

Does the commenter mean Biden “sucks dick”, which is what “sucks” used to mean? I don’t know. But I’ve seen no evidence that Biden likes to suck dick. I HAVE, however, seen plenty of evidence that Trump is a lover of sexual conquests and exotic sexual acts. He probably HAS swallowed, in the nastiest meaning of that saying. But then, he’s in good company with other people who have hung around with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein… Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and plenty of other rich and famous men. There’s no telling what kind of shenanigans went on back when Jeffrey Epstein threw his wild parties on his notorious, infamous, “private island”, teeming with teenaged girls brought to him by Ghislaine Maxwell and company.

There’s no denying what kind of company Trump keeps… and when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.. (thanks, Mary Beth).
“Donald Trump is the Hugh Hefner of the 90s”… Seriously, he probably does swallow.

But even if he doesn’t “swallow” in the sexual sense, he definitely DOES like fast food. And he clearly does swallow that, based on his “figure”. So what I wrote wasn’t a lie. Saying that Joe Biden “sucks”, is probably more of a lie by most counts.

There’s no doubt that Trump likes his Whoppers… is he also the “home of the Whopper” like the pervert neighbor I used to have? The jury is out. This is so embarrassing for the United States.

In any case, Joe Biden has been in office for about six months. I’m feeling somewhat better about a lot of things than I did a year ago– at least for right now. A year ago, I woke up every day feeling dread about what new craziness would be in the press regarding Trump. Now, I worry less about Trump and his embarrassing bullshit, but I do worry that someone else is being groomed to “MAGA”.

I get that a lot of people think Trump’s “awesome” and his polices are “great for America”, as one Trump loving friend (who incidentally lives in Thailand) enthusiastically told me this morning. I wonder what my friend is doing in Thailand. I think he married a Thai woman, and he probably gets to enjoy a decent standard of living there… if Trump was so “great”, though, wouldn’t he have wanted to move back to the States during Trump’s tenure? Wouldn’t he have wanted to live in the USA, basking in all of Trump’s MAGA splendor? And yet, he didn’t. He’s been in Thailand for awhile.

I, of course, live in Germany and managed to miss ALL of Trump’s presidency. I haven’t set foot on US soil since November 2014. I have a feeling that when I do go back, it’ll be a shock. And that will be true, even if Biden doesn’t get pushed out in 2024. Lord help us all.

In any case, allow me to state on record that, so far, I don’t think Joe Biden sucks. I do, however, know for a fact that Trump swallows. But maybe someday we’ll get lucky and he’ll fail his swallow test. Perhaps that will keep him out of our hair so we can make sure no one worse picks up where Trump has left off. I think Joe Biden is a decent man, and I’m glad to see someone decent in the White House. Trump is not a good person who cares about other people. That, in an of itself, makes him unsuitable to run anything involving other people, let alone a country.

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

No good deed… road to hell… et al…

You know those old sayings? “No good deed goes unpunished…” “The road to hell is paved with good intentions…” And I’m sure there are others. You get the point, right?

This morning, having successfully downloaded the COVPass app, I decided to write a post for my travel blog about how to get the COVID-19 vaccine certificates and load them into a smart phone. This may not seem like a particularly difficult thing to do, but for Americans in Germany, it can be a process. I spent a couple of solid hours on the post, laboriously writing out the story of how I achieved success and each step I took. Then, once I was finished I shared the post in a few limited Facebook groups. Why limited? Because I’ve been in enough Facebook groups– particularly those affiliated with the military– to know that some people can’t simply be appreciative.

The very first comment I got on my link was from some guy who apparently isn’t a very careful reader. He wrote that my post was “good, but…” and then he proceeded to write about a point I’d missed about not needing to include the banking info. Except I hadn’t missed it. He just hadn’t read the post carefully. And then, to add insult to injury, he cut and pasted someone else’s long ass Facebook post about getting the app on an iPhone and left it in a comment. I guess no one needs to read that post I worked hard on this morning, after all.

I was already in a bit of a mood, probably because of hormones, so his comment immediately pissed me off. And I know it shouldn’t have. Mansplainers are a fact of life, particularly in military circles. There’s always some guy waiting to issue criticism or correction or, in more than one case in my experience, insults. Still, I don’t get paid to write this shit. I genuinely was trying to be helpful to the community when I wrote about my experience. It really felt belittling and dismissive to get that thoughtless comment from some guy who felt the need to be critical instead of kind. He obviously didn’t consider how much work went into that post… or he just didn’t care.

I know how these kids feel.

I suppose I could have given in to the urge to be bitchy. I kind of felt like ripping the guy’s nuts off, but realized that wouldn’t be a good look for me. So instead, I wrote, “Right, and I included that information in the post…” I also didn’t add what I was thinking, which was “that you obviously didn’t take the time to read carefully before you criticized…” You see, I wrote my post in a story form, rather than a cut and dry technical way. Maybe it was just too many words for him. Oh well… I can’t please everyone.

Seriously, though. It’s been a long time since I last posted in that group. It’s mainly because it’s a travel group, and I haven’t been traveling. Today, it occurred to me that I had something to add, and this guy has to piss all over it by criticizing it. I wonder if he realizes how that kind of response may have a negative effect on other people. I know I’ll think twice about posting information, since there’s a risk that some jerk’s thoughtless comment will irritate me. That would be a shame, since I’m going on seven years living in Germany this time and I have a lot to add about the subject. But I don’t like feeling aggravated… and it’s just as easy for me to let people find the content on their own, rather than trying to share it in a group.

I’m sure the guy doesn’t realize how irritating his comment is to me… although I understand that maybe this is an overreaction. Like I said… no good deed goes unpunished… the road to hell is paved with good intentions… I should have known better… I need a vacation. And now that I finally have the credentials, perhaps I can travel somewhere. If others find value in the work I did this morning, so much the better. I just wish people would stop and think before they indulge the impulse to be corrective… and make sure they read carefully beforehand. Because I’m passive aggressive, coming off my period, and completely over it, I went back and bolded, italicized, and partially underlined the part where I clearly wrote you don’t have to add the banking info. I suppose I could have also added this…

I’m CRUSHING your head, you mansplainer.

At least it’s Friday.

Standard
complaints, mental health, Military, modern problems

Melting down over mission first…

There was a time in my life when I was like Velveeta, melting down at the slightest sign of heat. I’ve always been sensitive, but for the first thirty years of my life, I would get easily overwhelmed. I had problems with anxiety and would hyperventilate in panic attacks. Sometimes the attacks would happen in very embarrassing places. One time, I melted down in front of my boss, who was a nurse. Oddly enough, she thought I needed a trash can because she assumed I was going to vomit. I managed to croak out that I needed a bag to breathe into. She gave me one and I soon calmed down enough to talk to her. You’d think a nurse would know what to do for hyperventilation.

My panic attacks used to happen fairly frequently. For a long time, I didn’t know how to stop them. I’d get so upset that I’d find myself tingly with carbon dioxide overload, panting in a fight or flight reaction to whatever had me so bothered. Many times, it was fighting with my parents or some other authority figure that would get me in those states. For awhile, I even had Klonopin prescribed to me. It did nothing for me. I’m surprised people get hooked on it, to be very honest.

I don’t remember the last time I had a panic attack. It’s been many years. I have had a few meltdowns, but they aren’t like they used to be. Now, I get angry rather than panicky. Sometimes I cry a little bit, but I can’t even muster tears much anymore. In some ways, I’m glad crying is harder for me now. I was embarrassed by public crying jags more times than I’d like to remember. Some people legitimately thought I was crazy when I was younger. Others wondered if I was bipolar (I’m not).

Then there are times when I miss having a good cry. Crying can be very cathartic. I remember the rush of endorphins that would inevitably come after I released my emotions all over the place. I kind of miss being able to do that. Now, when I cry, it doesn’t last long and isn’t very intense. I’m sure some of it has to do with getting older and hormonal changes that come with that. Some of it is because I just don’t physically feel like I used to. I haven’t felt the way I felt as a young person since I started taking antidepressants in 1998.

Good plan.

I took psych meds for about five and a half years– first Prozac, then Wellbutrin, which turned out to be a much better fit for me than Prozac was. I also took Topamax, which is a mood stabilizer/migraine med/anti seizure med. My doctor prescribed it for me because he wanted me to lose weight. It did effectively kill my appetite and made drinking anything carbonated unpleasant. I didn’t lose weight, either, which disappointed my psychiatrist, who seemed to think my weight was the root of my problems. Bill didn’t like me on Topamax, so I got off of it. Beer began being fun to drink again. Looking back on it, I think the shrink was irresponsible to give me Topamax for that purpose. He prescribed it not because I had medical issues due to being overweight, but because I think he preferred thinner women himself and figured that being thinner would make me happier.

I had a slight meltdown last night. It turned out Bill couldn’t leave early and, in fact, probably won’t be home until late. I got pissed off when he sent me an email telling me about his issues getting home. It’s not because he’s not getting off early. It’s because, once again, he got my hopes up and dashed them. It’s not the first time he’s done it and this time, I’m having a particularly hard time dealing with life.

All of the other times he’s had long TDYs, we haven’t been in a pandemic situation. We’ve managed to have some fun somehow… going to a restaurant, taking a short trip, or doing something social. This time, we’ve been locked down for months. Seriously, Germany has been locked down in some way since November 2020. I haven’t been to downtown Wiesbaden in many months. By now, it’s probably been a year. I haven’t had a dental cleaning since May 2019. We did manage to take a trip last summer, but after we picked up Noyzi in early October, we were pretty much relegated to the neighborhood.

Germany was going to open a little bit this month, but the rising COVID-19 infections forced the lockdowns to extend. The AstraZeneca vaccine rollout has stalled, thanks to stories about a few people having rare blood clot reactions to it. We can be vaccinated on post, but we’re low on the priority scale. So while the United States is getting people the shot and things are becoming slightly more open over there, here it’s still isolated and weird. And it pissed me off that my husband had to go on a business trip for three solid weeks, even though travel is highly discouraged right now. I’ve been sitting at home alone, faithfully awaiting his invitation to chat, which always came when I was in the middle of watching a movie.

I don’t know what happened, but when he said he was going to be stuck there until late, I just got pissed. Because, what it comes down to is his job coming before me. I understand that his job will always come first. It’s that military “mission first” mentality that every recruit is indoctrinated with when they join one of the services. Intellectually, I get it. But after three weeks of boredom and loneliness and having my hopes raised, I was not very happy to hear that they were going to be dashed. I got so pissed that I even told Bill I didn’t want to chat with him and didn’t care when he comes home.

I probably should have kept my disappointment to myself. I should have found something to pour myself into, like I usually do. But I wrote on Facebook that I need a boyfriend. I was half kidding. Most people laughed. One person, who also spends a lot of time alone due to her husband’s work, opted to give me advice. To be honest, it kind of pissed me off that this person offered advice. Sometimes, people just want to vent. They aren’t looking for anyone to help them solve their problems. They just want to be heard and validated.

I understand that advice giving usually comes from a place of wanting to help, but she knows I’ve been a military wife for 18 years. This ain’t my first rodeo with being alone. Moreover, I’m not a kid. I don’t need someone to tell me to go out and “join” things. But even if I wanted to join things, I can’t right now. First off, it’s Germany, and not everyone speaks English. But even if I spoke perfect German and they spoke perfect English, the culture is different… and we are not allowed to congregate, anyway. It’s literally against the law right now. And, to be honest, I don’t necessarily want to hang out on post, either. For many reasons, I don’t fit in with most of the military wives. There are some exceptions, of course. Things are closed on post, too, but even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t want to hang out there.

I don’t need to be told to do something creative. I do that already. That’s why we have five guitars in our house when a year ago, we had none. That’s why I write a blog. I would write fiction, but a certain stalker let me know that she doesn’t appreciate my efforts or respect my privacy. So I’ve kind of lost the desire to write fiction for now, because someone might assume that I’ve written about them or get the wrong idea… or offer an uninvited critique. Even if I wrote it offline, I’ve just lost the urge.

I was just feeling low and wanted to express it. I still knew in my heart, someone would try to fix things and offer advice. And I would be put in the position of being a bitch and stating that I don’t want or particularly need any advice. I just want a virtual hug or something… hell, I don’t know what I want. I guess I just feel like I’ve wasted my life. I spend so much time waiting around for Bill. It’s not even so much that I want to join other people. I actually find a lot of people irritating… and they find me irritating and weird. I don’t want to get dressed and get in the car and go somewhere. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I chose this life. I know I did. I love Bill with all my heart, but I often feel like a loser. Just once, I’d like for him to have to wait at home alone for me. Or really, I don’t want either of us to have to wait at home alone. I just feel like I’ve already put in my time with this “mission first” lifestyle. For once, it would be nice not to have to put the mission first.

A few weeks ago, I fell and tore up both of my knees. Fortunately, I wasn’t badly hurt. My pride was injured and I had bruised, swollen, oozing, itchy knees for two solid weeks. The knees are mostly healed now, save for a bit of scarring and almost healed scabs. It occurred to me that I could have been badly hurt and no one would be any the wiser. When he goes on these trips, I might as well be single. I survived being alone as a single person just fine. I expected to be alone and coped with it. As a married person, it’s harder to cope. Especially when I can’t go hang out in a bar when things get too solitary.

When we lived in Stuttgart, it wasn’t as bad. I knew more people there. Of course, I much prefer where we are now to where we were then, but I don’t know Wiesbaden as well as I do the Stuttgart area. The past year hasn’t allowed for much exploration. I’m not that close to my family, which is probably a blessing, since they’re all thousands of miles away. I have the dogs and they are great company. But they’re dogs… and they require care more than anything else. I did get a kick out of Noyzi this morning, who asked for butt rubs and head scratches and expressed appreciation by rolling on his back with his legs in the air and smiling goofily at me. I wish I’d been able to get a picture. It was adorable.

I miss Zane a lot. He was high maintenance and worried me with his health issues. However, he loved to snuggle with me in bed and would burrow under the covers and curl up next to me. Arran only snuggles with me occasionally. He likes to snuggle, but not like Zane did. He’s more Bill’s dog than mine. And Noyzi isn’t going to snuggle in bed as long as Arran is around, because Arran doesn’t like him.

I miss physical contact and conversation… and I feel like I just wait all the time for something to happen. And I don’t need someone in the United States, who doesn’t understand the reality of life as a childless foreigner during a pandemic, telling me what I should do. I mean, I know she meant well… but she’s got children and grandchildren and a job… and lots of friends. And she lives in the USA in a familiar place. I don’t think things are locked down there like they are here. But in the USA, you can expect that most people can speak your language. Here, I can’t make that assumption, even if it’s often true.

I think I also have PMS. My skin is a mess… and it’s about time for Aunt Flow to show up. Just in time for Bill to get home, too. Wouldn’t you know it?

I do feel somewhat better today. I woke up at 2:15am and couldn’t get back to sleep. By 4:45am, I was chatting with a former co-worker who lives in Washington State. We had a very entertaining chat, not about my problems. He didn’t offer advice or try to fix my issues. He just talked to me and we gossiped about the old days. It was fun, and it made me feel better. He even said he liked me the minute he met me because I’m “authentic”. He’s not the first person to tell me that. Say what you want about my personality… it’s definitely mine and it’s real, even if not everyone likes it. And he told me he likes me the way I am, which was really nice. I probably should have chatted with him last night, but I ended up chatting with Bill, who apologized profusely.

I told Bill that I get it. The job will always come first. He has a “mission first” mentality that he won’t let go of, and frankly, that’s what makes him so employable. And, to be honest, I’m not sure if it would be a good thing for him to change jobs for my sake. I wasn’t asking him to do that. I simply don’t like it when someone raises my hopes and then disappoints me. It’s happened too many times. If he had just let me think he’d be home late tonight and never mentioned leaving early, I probably wouldn’t have gotten so irritated.

Also… people are finding that post I wrote about Adam and Darla and, apparently, want to correct my opinions on that. And those who are regular readers probably know how I feel about people who want to correct other people’s opinions. Right or wrong, I don’t like it when people aren’t allowed to express themselves unmolested and uncensored. Must be part of my “authenticity”. On the other hand, at least they care enough to comment.

Anyway… I will probably be happier later. If I know Bill, he’ll make it up to me. Or maybe he’ll disappoint me again. Either way, I probably won’t melt down, because I expect I’ll finally be ragging. I think I’ll make this morning a vocal morning. It’ll make me feel better.

Standard
complaints, silliness

A mildly exasperating day…

This morning, I woke up to find Bill looking crestfallen. He said he’d tried to play with Noyzi, who responded by submissive peeing on the rug. Noyzi is coming along nicely as he adjusts to life as a pet dog, but he still has some fear triggers. Two things that scare him are sudden loud noises and sudden quick movements, especially if they come from a man. Poor Bill is such a kind, gentle soul, but Noyzi is still afraid of him.

Then, Bill noticed that he had a package coming today… Belgian beer from Saveur-Biere, a Belgian company that stocks exotic beers for when we don’t want to drink another Hefeweizen or Pils. I waited around all morning for the delivery. I finally decided to chance a thirty minute walk at about 1:30 or so. The weather is very nice today. We have sunshine and mild temperatures.

Well… it happened to be about the time the kids were getting out of school, so there was more traffic and activity than usual. Then, when we got to the bottom of the hill, Arran decided to take a crap in someone’s flower bed. I had to clean that up as cars and people were going by. It was a messy job picking up the poop, so some of it got on my hand as we crossed the street, then Noyzi spooked at a lamp post.

After he recovered from that, he spooked again because someone raised their Rolladen and it made a loud squeak. He backpedaled quickly, and almost knocked me over. At that point, I was glad I put the harness on him. He’s doing a lot better on the leash than he was, but he still has his moments of panic.

So there I was juggling the two vastly different sized dogs and a bag of fresh dog crap. We encountered a lady at the bus stop, another lady standing on the narrow sidewalk, and a metal manhole cover that I always seem to hit. It makes a loud clank when I step on it and scares Noyzi.

As we were about to turn onto the pathway through the gardens, we ran into a chatty German woman who wanted to pet the dogs and had one of her own. Thankfully, her dog was super calm. Noyzi was great. He likes women. I was really glad she wasn’t a he.

We got back to the house, just in time to catch the DPD guy who had just delivered Bill’s beer to our landlords. So, after washing the shit off of my hand, I had to go over there and get it. The landlord was kind enough to carry it for me, since it was heavy. Then he said he had another package. I wasn’t expecting one, and it turned out to be for our other next door neighbor. It never fails! If I decide to risk a shower or a walk with the dogs, the delivery people always seem to show up!

Thinking I was done with distractions, I got in the shower. I had just washed my hair when the fucking doorbell rang. I dried off a bit and managed to see the DHL driver taking off. I guess he had a package for the neighbor, too. I’m not sure I even finished my shower.

Hopefully, I’m done with annoyances for today. Bill was supposed to work from home this afternoon, but he got some shit suddenly dumped on him at work. He was named as a point of contact, but no one warned him he would be. Hopefully, tonight he won’t come home without his wallet, like he did last night.

The featured photo is one I took of Arran this morning. He could tell Bill was sad about scaring Noyzi and needed reassurance that he’s still a great dog daddy.

Standard
language, overly helpful people, rants

Hey Digga!

Here comes another one of my rants about overly sensitive language cops. It comes this morning as my friend from my hometown shared a news article about a professor at the University of Southern California, who went viral for teaching about pause or filler words in China and using a word that sounded a lot like the n-bomb.

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!

Jeez!

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