The featured photo represents the judgmental attitude some people have about an obvious lack of undergarments on women… but, to be clear, it’s not MY attitude.
Once again, I’m amazed by the things people feel emboldened to comment about, especially to perfect strangers on social media. The vast majority of people who make shockingly rude or offensive remarks would never have the nerve to say those things to people’s faces. But online, they feel quite free to sound off, sometimes over things that are really none of their business. Like whether or not to wear certain undergarments, or how to take care of a beloved animal family member.
I follow a Facebook page run by a lady who has a mini horse as a service animal, rather than a dog. I don’t know this person at all, but I like to follow her page, because I think it’s cool that she has a service horse instead of a service dog. It makes good sense to have a horse as a service animal. They usually live longer than dogs do, and they’re bigger and sturdier, which can be very helpful for those who need help standing up. However, a lot of people don’t realize that mini horses can make excellent service animals. I think it’s great that she so generously shares photos and videos that educate people about having a service mini horse.
Some people have been following the story of “Flirty” the miniature service horse for a long time. They know the lady’s story well, and have watched her progress with her mini horse. Other people simply like to chime in, even though their comments are ignorant and offensive. Such was the case this morning, when I read about how Flirty’s mom had a new outdoor paddock built with a privacy fence. This is not an enclosure where the horse spends all of her free time. It’s just a small yard for her to go outside, eat some grass or hay, and maybe play with some toys.
Flirty’s mom was obviously excited to show off the new paddock for her mini horse. Yes, it’s small, but she’s a mini horse, and there’s plenty of room for her to move around. It’s bigger than the stalls where a lot of full sized horses stay. And she doesn’t spend all day in the paddock. It’s just another place for her to hang out with less supervision.
Several people were commenting on how inappropriate the paddock was, as it’s enclosed with a tall privacy fence. More than a couple of people wrote that she should have had windows put into the privacy fence so Flirty could look out. Flirty’s owner explained that she didn’t want windows because she didn’t want people or other animals messing with her horse, trying to feed her things she shouldn’t eat, like grass clippings.
Horses should NOT eat grass clippings, because they can cause serious health issues that can make them very sick or even lead to death. A lot of people don’t realize that if a horse gets a bad stomach ache (colic), they can die. Grass clippings can conceal poisonous plants that horses shouldn’t eat, because the cut grass mixes with other plants and covers their taste. Mowed grass clippings also ferment, which causes them to put out gas. A horse that eats the clippings can soon end up with gas that they can’t get rid of. Horses can’t vomit or burp, so built up gas in the gut can be deadly for them. It can lead to bloat, laminitis (founder), colic, or even botulism.
Flirty’s owner also wrote that there are dogs in the neighborhood who run loose and are capable of jumping lower fences. She doesn’t want them messing with Flirty and possibly hurting her.
The comments about the fencing were annoying enough, but what prompted me to write today’s post are other offensive comments made. Flirty’s owner showed herself in her video. She was wearing a t-shirt, but was obviously not wearing a bra. I counted at least three comments from women demanding that she put on a bra. See below:
Holy no bra…
put a bra on wow
Wear a bra please.
I was glad to see Flirty’s “mom” tell these women to mind their own business. Contrary to what they might have heard, bras aren’t something women are required to wear. A lot of us women wear them because they help support our boobs and maybe make them look nicer in clothes. But plenty of us, myself included, don’t like wearing bras all day. They can be uncomfortable. I remember my mom had grooves in her shoulders from wearing bras. I don’t have them, because I only wear bras when I’m going out somewhere. But honestly, if I (or any other woman) didn’t want to wear them at all, that should be my choice and my business. I would tell anyone who complains to quit staring at my boobs.
Besides the comments about Flirty’s “mom’s” lack of a bra, other people were claiming that the new enclosure was “cruel”. One person even had the audacity to write this comment:
Do her a favor and let someone who can properly care for her adopt her. I think you’ve done your best to do what you can but you don’t have the proper set up for her to have a happy life for a horse and this is really sad.
Really? I just don’t know where people get their nerve. This person is a complete stranger and only knows what she’s seen in the posts on Flirty’s page about what her actual “set up” is. To me, Flirty appears to be happy, healthy, and much beloved. And obviously, Flirty provides valuable services to her owner, who is kind enough to share information and educate the public about service horses. It would be one thing if Flirty appeared to be in poor health. But she looks very well taken care of to me, and I spent many years with horses in my life. No, I’m not a horse expert, but I do know what a healthy horse looks like. Flirty is adorable, and she’s obviously doing fine.
I have to say, Flirty’s “mom” was a lot nicer to that rude commenter than I would have been, if she’d made a comment like that to me. It would be Taylor Swift time for sure. 😉 This was Flirty’s mom’s response:
You realize that the accepted stall size for a mini horse is 6×8, right? And some minis don’t get turnout from that? Go bug those people, if you need to complain about horse welfare.
She will get daily supervised turnout time in the larger yard. She will have toys to play with in this paddock. She is not unhappy.
I tend to get very annoyed with people who make uninformed comments about horses and their welfare, because a lot of them either don’t know what they’re talking about, or feel like their comments will be effective. A person who is truly abusive isn’t going to care about their input. A person who loves their animals, as much as Flirty’s mom obviously does, is just going to be offended. I highly doubt that Flirty’s mom has plans to do as the commenter suggested and let someone else adopt her service animal. That’s just a ridiculous thing to write or say, and it’s simply not gonna happen.
On another note, I searched Facebook for more comments about people who don’t wear bras. The first result that came up with Janis Ian’s page, and a two year old post about how face masks are the “new bras”. There were over one hundred boot licking posts from followers about how wonderful face masks are, and how they are a necessary evil, like bras are. Thank GOD that didn’t turn out to be true on a permanent basis. Hooray for science, and effective vaccines, because even if the masks were helpful at the beginning of the pandemic, I don’t want to wear them for the rest of my life. But I probably shouldn’t read too many of those comments, either, because they’re also pretty triggering, and God knows I’ve vented plenty about masks!
Well… I guess I’ve yammered on long enough about this. I think I’ll end this post and dive into my new book. Have a good weekend y’all. I plan to spend mine braless for as long as possible. 😉
Welcome to Sunday, y’all. I’m going to try to keep today’s post short, simple, and non-controversial. Yesterday’s post was a rant, because I was really angry and emotional for a lot of reasons. I’m less so today, because when it comes down to it, some people just aren’t worth the energy. Or, at least to me they aren’t. Maybe they are worth the energy to others. I’m sure plenty of people wish I’d drop dead. Other people think I’m incredible. It’s kind of like art, right? What one person likes, another person hates. There’s no accounting for taste.
Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about so-called constitutional “auditors”. These are people who get involved in police interactions as a means of testing their knowledge of the laws and finding out if they respect rights outlined in the Constitution. I see there are Brits who also do these videos.
Personally, I don’t think I’d want to do that kind of stuff, even for YouTube, because I don’t enjoy unnecessary or unpleasant confrontations with people. However, I do think the videos are interesting and informative. They’re also very popular, as I’ve noticed a lot of people are making them. I’m sure the auditing videos make it harder to be a cop, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Some police officers do get off on power trips and need to be brought back down to Earth.
Today’s post isn’t about those videos. Rather, I would like to address an attitude that I saw promoted by an officer in Richmond, Virginia. An auditor confronted him and said he was an “independent journalist”. And the cop basically made some snarky, dismissive comment about how the journalist was just going to put something up on YouTube.
As a blogger and occasional music creator, I’ve often run into the dismissive attitude demonstrated by the cop. A lot of people don’t think what I do is “legitimate”.
Former tenant, who was stalking my blogs for four plus years before she departed this life on her own terms, once made a very disrespectful private comment to me about what I do. In retrospect, it was not surprising to me that she had secretly harbored a disdainful opinion of me, as she was monitoring my activities and, apparently, reporting my activities to our former landlady, as she also insisted on her privacy being respected. I found her discounting attitude disappointing, hypocritical, short-sighted, and depressingly typical.
Former tenant claimed that she didn’t see any value in what I do, yet she was apparently watching me obsessively. Obviously, there was some value in my activities, if only that she and ex landlady and ex landlady’s daughter could sit around, gossip, and laugh about it, right? At the very least, they got intel from it… or insight… or maybe even something to talk or laugh about that might have even made them feel better about themselves.
Former tenant had once claimed that she liked reading about our adventures and seeing photos, especially of the old neighborhood she and her husband had lived in before they abruptly moved mid tour. If that’s the truth, then there was value in my blog posts about my activities. If it wasn’t the truth, I guess she was lying to me, as she was sanctimoniously lecturing me about my occasionally “problematic” content. Or… she wasn’t lying, but just wanted to be mean to me because she thought it was her place to define what constitutes creative pursuits. She didn’t see the value in what I was doing, and didn’t have the integrity to just go away and leave me alone. It didn’t occur to her that maybe other people valued my “work”, and they get a vote, too.
This morning, I noticed that Janis Ian was on a tear about the author, Flannery O’Connor. She had recently used one of O’Connor’s quotes as her “quote of the day”. People in the comment section were up in arms about it, because Flannery O’Connor had some objectionable personal beliefs that many modern audiences would find distasteful or just plain wrong.
Janis Ian claims that she doesn’t support censorship, and she writes that we should separate artists’ personal lives with their works. This is what she posted on her Facebook page:
Re the discussion about Flannery O’Connor’s work, a note of clarification – I wouldn’t have intervened if the discussion had centered around her work. However, it quickly became involved in personalities (mostly hers), her letters, her journals. Those were not her work. Her work lies in the short stories and novels she left us.
As an artist, I will always stress that there is a marked difference between the life of an artist, and an artist’s work. Discounting or banning an artist, or refusing to engage with that artist’s work, because you disagree with their personal life, politics, or behavior, is something I find absurd.
Like every artist I know, I hope to live up to the best of my work – and know I never will. What do I want my art, and that of artists I admire, to do when someone experiences it? I want them to feel elevated. I want them to have cause to think, and reflect, and be moved, for good and for bad. Mostly, I want to make them FEEL something.
I believe most artists think this way, though it might not be conscious.
I won’t change the words of another artist to suit the times, or peoples’ perception of what is hurtful to them. I am resolutely against changing a single word or image or movement in any piece of art; instead, I expect people to take it in context, look at it historically, be educated by parents, teachers, and themselves (indeed, educating yourself is an obligation, IMHO, because most people don’t have the luxury of parents, teachers, society teaching them all they need to know).
If you are on this page, keep in mind that civility is expected. Snarky comments are removed and, after a certain point, that profile is blocked. Rudeness is not tolerated and yes, I define what is rude. And co-opting a quote to discuss an author’s personal beliefs because you disagree with them is not okay.
The QOTD (Quote of the Day) is for discussion. Not whether the author or their views are likeable.
A good and absorbing (though long) read for anyone interested in O’Connor and her work.
Additionally, as someone pointed out, there is a huge difference between “racism” and “prejudice”. For what it’s worth.
I have written about Janis Ian a few times on this blog. I want to make it clear that I highly respect her as an artist. She’s written and sung some beautiful songs. I think she’s smart and funny, and she deserves all of the accolades she gets. However, I also think that sometimes, she’s quite hypocritical. She writes in the above post that she doesn’t support changing artistic works to suit the tastes of modern audiences. But then, she also lays down very strict rules about what people can post as a response.
Janis Ian writes that she doesn’t see Flannery O’Connor’s letters or journals as artistic works. However, there are many artists and academics who would beg to disagree with her. Personally, I disagree, because I know there’s an element of creativity in blogging. There’s also creativity involved in writing letters. Maybe it’s not the same significance as writing a novel or composing music, but it’s still a work of art, in a sense.
I’m very proud of some of my blog posts. I wrote one a couple of years ago that I reread this morning. It was titled “The Red Scare”. It started off being about how, back in 1981, people were terrified of a Soviet invasion. By the end, I had segued into a discussion of puberty, with a dash of musical theater. It sounds like the parts wouldn’t connect, and yet they did. I thought it was a really creative and interesting post, although it’s definitely not one of my most popular. My most popular posts tend to be about true crime, which I find a lot less creatively challenging.
I’m sure someone like Janis Ian wouldn’t find what I do very significant, artistic, or creative. Hell, the troll on RfM yesterday took a big dump on my post about Arran. And yet, that incident inspired yesterday’s blog post. At this point, it has just one “like” and five hits, and yet I’m rather proud of it. I like the title, and letting my feelings out in a rant can be very liberating, and even fun.
I was legitimately angry and upset when I wrote that post, and yet I don’t regret writing it. Maybe someone out there in Internetland can relate to it. Maybe it would even change someone’s life. I will never know. A few people did tell me that my video tribute for Arran made them cry. That accounts for something, doesn’t it? Isn’t the point of putting stuff out there to make someone think, or feel something, or maybe even change in some way? Isn’t that what art on all levels is about?
A person named Laurel left a comment for Janis that I found very interesting:
The Tennessee Williams Estate agrees with you. When we staged 2 of his one act plays, we asked about updating the word he used to refer to black people, and were told no, and that if any actor chose to replace that term with a more modern one, the production would be fined for any instance of a changed word. They felt the term was appropriate in the time the play was written, and carefully chosen for the overall “lyrical” flow of the various passages. And I personally did not disagree with their choice or their reasoning.
Art is not necessarily meant to comfort; it is more often meant to disrupt thought patterns, open minds, and sometimes even disturb for effect. Creators often edit numerous times to find the perfect word to fit THEIR visions. If it disturbs you, well maybe that was the intent.
And yes, an artist and that artist’s art are 2 very different things. Most artists are imperfect. Their art may reflect that.
Apparently, Laurel then left a couple of follow up comments that Janis didn’t like. She wrote this:
“tone it down. I’m hiding both your responses.”
So… Janis Ian doesn’t see all writing as “artistic” or creative. But then another commenter wrote this, and Janis heartily approved:
“there is a huge difference between “racism” and “prejudice”. 50+ years ago in Dallas a friend of Mexican descent taught me the difference between: bigotry (racism), prejudice and discrimination. He spoke from experience. I’ve shared his wisdom many times since then. It has helped me put a lot of things in perspective. Mainly: we all have prejudices (in favor and against many things); we can legislate against discrimination (an action) but unfortunately not bigotry (a belief).
Janis wrote: “so stealing…”
The commenter misunderstood Janis and wrote, “sorry I missed the mark there. Your last comment in your post took me off on a nostalgia tour. Thanks for the memory – I’ll try to do better in the future.”
Janis clarified, “I’m not sure what you’re referring to? I’m stealing what you posted, to use later!”
And the commenter wrote, “lol. I get confused so easily any more. Feel free to “steal”.
From that exchange, I take that sometimes Facebook comments can be “works of art”. Or, at least they can be so good that Janis Ian wants to “steal” them to use later. But someone else writes something that she doesn’t like, or uses a “tone” that she alone finds objectionable, and then it has no value and “censorship” is okay.
The troll who left me the mean spirited comment on RfM yesterday really hurt my feelings and, I’m sure, meant to make me feel terrible. Or, at the very least, they didn’t care about my feelings, even though it was clear that I was mourning a huge loss and expressing myself on a “recovery site”. Make no mistake about it. I still think that person is a massive fuckwad and I’d happily fantasize about rendering them sterile with a well placed drop kick to the gonads.
But, at the same time, that person’s mean comments provided fuel for yesterday’s post… which some people may value on some level, even if it’s just to laugh at me for making the effort to write it. Also, it’s not lost on me that some people might have agreed with that person’s very mean comments. So maybe I shouldn’t have reported them. In fact, I could have probably turned that person’s post into a plea for sympathy and gotten even more views on Arran’s video… if that was my ultimate goal. It wasn’t my goal, by the way. I don’t share things just to get likes or views.
When it comes to published works, I agree with Janis Ian that it’s wrong to “edit”. In fact, I don’t like cancel culture at all. I think people should have the right to decide for themselves what is, or what is not objectionable to them and vote with their wallets. I also think that people should have the right to make their own rules in their own houses, so to speak. At the same time, there does seem to be a level of hypocrisy in the idea that some “offensive” writing is okay, and some isn’t. And some things are “art”, and some things aren’t.
So far as some people’s ideas of what is, and what is not “offensive”, is somehow better than other people’s ideas are… well I think that’s how we end up with extremist loudmouth assholes like Donald Trump in the White House. People don’t like to be told what they can or can’t say, think, or believe. They will vote for those whom they think will protect their right to be an asshole.
I do kind of like how Janis handled this person, though…
Meh… well, I guess I’m glad that most people don’t value what I do. I don’t think I’d want people to “expect more from me”, just because I made a living creating things. Everybody’s human, and everybody’s shit stinks. Whether it’s former tenant being rude and dismissive about my creative pursuits, while also obsessively stalking me… or Janis Ian telling people not to judge artists by their personal lives or support censoring them, as she censors and steals people’s posts… or commenters feeling that their decision not to buy things made in China as they also pay taxes to governments that have policies that harm people… Or a cop thinking an “independent journalist” isn’t a “real” journalist, and there’s no value in what they do… Some people would beg to disagree, right?
And some people think that in order to be “legitimate” as an artist, one must be formally employed by someone else. Some of those independent journalists on YouTube are actually making enough money to live on, though.
People are always going to be offensive and inappropriate on some level. Sometimes, I’ll admit I get upset about stuff, but then it leads to a good rant that might make people think or feel… or even just laugh. I think as long as people learn and grow from their experiences, that should be our focus. I think we should all keep creating, whether or not someone else thinks it’s a valid pursuit, or the creator is a “decent person” whose views should be promoted.
But isn’t it nice that we can still disagree? For now, anyway. And isn’t it nice when people are doing something constructive with their time? It reminds me of the trash scavengers/dumpster divers in Texas who raided people’s trash for metal they could turn in for money. To them, that was a job that actually helped them keep the lights on, even if some of us didn’t appreciate them rifling through trash we were throwing out, just so they could make a living off our discards. Some people think certain art is “trash”. Other people think that same art is “brilliant”.
And no matter what you might think of what I do, I still think of myself as a writer and a singer. You gotta start somewhere, right? Lots of people like me didn’t become “legitimate” until they were already dead. Think about it. 😉
ETA: So much for keeping this post short and non-controversial. Oh well.
Last night, after our “mandatory fun” party in Mainz, Bill and I were on our way home, and I noticed a Facebook post by singer-songwriter Janis Ian. To be totally frank, I probably shouldn’t follow her. I like her music and respect her talent, but I often find her abrasive and hypocritical to her followers. A year ago, I even posted about this… The below status update is from me on February 11, 2022.
I was annoyed because Janis Ian had wished Roberta Flack a happy birthday, and one of her followers called her out for being kind of ageist. Janis responded by insulting the woman who had chastised her. Granted, the woman’s comments were kind of annoying. Basically, she was upset because Janis wrote that Roberta was “85 years young” instead of “85 years old”. The woman wrote that using “young” instead of “old” in that context was offensive. Janis, who often requests that her followers be civil and respectful, responded in a way that I thought was pretty rude.
However… I can see why Janis gets irritated. She is the master of her social media presence. Lots of people follow her. She makes requests that they conduct themselves in a certain way. People ignore her. That is very annoying. It happens to me, too. And when you have kind of an “artistic temperament”, it can be even more annoying. Creative people often have issues with mental health problems, learning disabilities, trauma, or any other manner of challenges to their psyches. I’m not saying ALL artistic/creative people are like this, but if you look at the people of the world who have talents in the arts, you find that they tend to experience some things on a more intense level.
I can be pretty cranky sometimes (especially when I’m hungry). I have a sister who’s an artist and can be extremely cranky and snippy, too. I’m sure there are even tempered artists in the world… but I haven’t met a whole lot of them. And I can see why Janis gets annoyed when she specifically posts about something and clearly points out the conversation she hopes to have, and people don’t bother to read before they comment, or they just flat out ignore her.
Below is last night’s post, which apparently caused Ms. Ian to sigh a lot…
When I stumbled across this post, all but one of the comments were about Madonna’s distorted face. Janis wanted to have a discussion about the “Nazi” looking outfit Madonna was wearing. Personally, it looks less “Nazi” to me than Dominatrix. But I didn’t watch the Grammys, so I didn’t really see it in context. This also isn’t a subject about which I personally care that much. I would rather talk about Madonna’s tragically bad surgery, frankly. I didn’t comment on Ms. Ian’s post, though. It was more interesting to see how many people ignored Janis’s comments about Madonna’s outfit and just wanted to talk about her age and her bad cosmetic surgery/Botox attempts.
Below are some comments people made, along with Janis Ian’s rather peevish “cut and paste” retort. I’m not going to edit the names out, because Janis’s page is public, and you can easily go to the post and see this for yourselves.
And this was Janis’s frustrated comment, beseeching people to read more carefully before they comment. On this, I agree with her. I get annoyed when people chime in before reading, too.
I think most people are in such a hurry nowadays. They don’t take time to read and digest before they offer a view. That can be very frustrating to other people, especially those who have a bent toward leadership. Maybe it would be more effective if Janis Ian wrote a song about this topic. People might listen more carefully then, although some would probably still misinterpret. Besides, Janis has said she can’t sing anymore. Or, at least she can’t sing and sound like “herself”.
A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about something I read in the Irish Times. It was about a woman who got very publicly fat shamed at a restaurant. Although I have experienced that kind of shaming myself, and could relate to the post because I’ve been where the author was, that post wasn’t about me. I wasn’t looking for advice, consolation, or anything of that nature. I simply wanted to have a discussion about what happened to that woman, in that article. But I did get a comment with advice for me…
I thought it was a little ironic, since the commenter mentioned how annoying it is to get unsolicited advice, particularly about something as personal as one’s weight. And yet, there was unsolicited advice in the comment. I kind of felt like the point of the post was entirely lost… which was a little discouraging. Perhaps the answer is to write very short posts with simple sentences to discourage skimming.
On the other hand… as annoying as this particular phenomenon is, I don’t think it’s ever going to go away. People are often going to miss the point because they aren’t necessarily focused on the person who sends them messages. They are focused on themselves, and their reactions. Or they feel like they should be “helpful”, even if no one is asking for assistance. Sometimes, all that’s wanted is just a simple discussion.
I feel like that’s an easier thing to request on a blog than on Facebook. Certainly, it’s easier to request that on this platform, which has maybe a couple hundred visitors a day, than Janis Ian’s Facebook page. She has many thousands of followers from many different walks of life, cultures, and countries. So many different perspectives are represented. I think it’s a lot to expect people to respond in exactly the “right” way. But I understand that the desire for that is still there… It probably feels a bit like pissing into the wind.
Well, I think I will wrap up this post. My new VESA monitor arm is here. Time to see if I can get the new computer up and running. The one I’m typing on now… possibly for the last time on this blog… has been annoying me all morning. But I do hope this post gives people some food for thought. I agree that trying to direct conversations on social media is very difficult or impossible. Maybe it’s like herding cats. But I also agree that people should read and think for a moment before they post. Chiming in without thinking first is often unwelcome and, frankly, kind of insulting and rude. However, I also know that most of the time, that kind of thing is actually more of a thoughtless action than anything else. It has a lot to do with people’s own egos on both sides.
I still think I need to unfollow Janis, though. I did unfollow a couple of other problematic public figures this week. Who knows? Maybe that will result in cheerier blog posts from yours truly.
Edited to add… the expensive VESA arm I bought was a complete piece of junk. Bill and I wasted a couple of frustrating hours trying to get it to function. I have ordered another one. It was significantly less expensive and, I hope, much more functional. Meanwhile, I have had a new computer for days now, and I can’t fucking use it yet.
The featured photo was shared on Janis Ian’s Facebook page. I think she might want to consider if maybe she, herself, falls into the “easily offended” category… And before anyone comes at me, I hasten to add that I know I can be a bit prickly and easily offended about some things myself. I am human, after all.
Some years ago, I heard George Carlin talk about what he referred to as “the old American double standard”. His exact words were:
It’s the old American Double Standard, ya know: Say one thing, do something different. And of course this country is founded on the double standard, that’s our history! We were founded on a very basic double standard: This country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free.
As I sit here on a Monday morning, eyes barely cracked open after a busy few days, I’m remembering George’s wise words. In fact, I was talking to Bill about them this morning, as I read a scolding Facebook post by Janis Ian. A few days ago, as I was eating Quiche Lorraine in Ribeauville, I noticed a post Janis put on Facebook. It was a quote. For some reason, even though she is a critically acclaimed songwriter, Janis Ian likes to post quotes by other people. And somehow, when she posts quotes, the comment section goes south, and she ends up chastising someone and/or closing comments in apparent disgust.
Janis had posted the above quote that some people thought was misattributed. Someone left a comment pointing out that she was “spreading misinformation”. The person’s remark was a little bit rude, and Janis responded in a rather pissy way. I happened to agree with the commenter that people should be more careful about sharing quotes and making sure they are attributed to the right person. In fact, one of my most popular posts is about how people misattributed a quote to Betty White that she specifically stated she never said, and never would say in a million years.
Again, I do think it’s important to get quotes both correct, and credited to the right person. As a highly acclaimed songwriter, it seems to me that Janis Ian would agree. I mean, how would she like it if someone made a meme using a line from “At Seventeen” or “Society’s Child” and attributed it to Carole King, Joni Mitchell, or Janis Joplin? My guess is that she wouldn’t like it… and if someone dared to share it on her page, she would call it out. Below is one of the more civilized exchanges on the post in question. I cut and pasted it, because the poster and I agree that there’s a bit of a double standard going on here…
I didn’t comment on the post myself. I’ve followed Janis’s page long enough to realize that she doesn’t always concede gracefully. I continue to follow her, though, because she’s often funny. I also appreciate that she appears to do her own social media, something I find refreshing and interesting. I like her music. However, I have a feeling we probably wouldn’t get along if we were to meet offline somewhere.
This morning, I was reading her page again, when I noticed this:
I don’t know anything about H.L. Mencken, but I do know something about Sunday School. I was forced to attend for years. I didn’t find it to be particularly awful, since I grew up in a mainstream Presbyterian church, but I do know that there are a lot of toxic religions out there that do a lot of damage to people. I’ve written about quite a few of them in my blog.
On the above post, I noticed a lot of people were sharing their experiences. Some people were agreeing with the quote from Mencken. Others were apparently offended that Janis Ian was posting about religion. Some pointed out that Ms. Ian is Jewish, so what would she know about Sunday School? I think that could be a valid point. I could also understand why some people felt offended by the quote, since they are, themselves, religious.
I didn’t find the quote offensive, but I do think how people will take it depends on their own perspective, and there are so many of them to consider. And unfortunately, there are a lot of jerks on the Internet who get off on trying to pull “gotchas” on people. On the other hand, sometimes people are simply trying to prevent misinformation. If, for instance, I posted that Dolly Parton wrote the “Star Spangled Banner”, I would expect people to correct me. If I truly believed she wrote it, maybe I’d get a little pissed off by having my pride insulted by a well-deserved correction. But in the long run, it’s better that I know the truth, right? That way, I don’t look foolish later, telling people something that is obviously wrong.
I think there’s a fine line between being a jerk trying to make someone feel small, and honestly trying to give credit where credit is due. And while I agree that some posters were less than gracious in their comments on Janis’s page, I also think that Janis isn’t always as even-keeled as she could be. I’ve noticed that she has a tendency to scold people, sometimes when I don’t think they necessarily did anything to warrant such a response. It’s possible she does this because she’s a sensitive, creative, artistic person. Or maybe she’s a little narcissistic, as narcissists are often the type to shame and scold. Either way, it’s an aspect of her online personality that I don’t particularly like very much. Like I wrote up post, if we were to meet offline, I sense that we wouldn’t like each other. But then, if that turned out to be true, and Janis didn’t like me much, she’d be one of many people. 😉 I’m the kind of person people tend to love or hate. 😀
Janis Ian often posts quotes by people she apparently admires, even if they weren’t “good people”. I actually applaud her for discouraging the ever popular “cancel culture” that a lot of people think is justice today. People are complicated and complex, and sometimes brilliant people say and do shitty things. It shouldn’t necessarily negate everything else they do in life. On the other hand, if you’re going to post something for public consumption, chances are good that someone is going to be contrary or inappropriate.
If you’re a famous person, it’s even more likely that someone is going to take a dump on your post. I know it’s annoying. It even happens to me sometimes, and I am not famous at all. But one thing I would like to ask Janis is, why is it up to her to decide what should, or should not, offend other people? If someone is offended by Picasso, shouldn’t they be free to state that? Isn’t that how productive discussions in free societies get started? Wouldn’t it be better to just take a breath, validate the person’s viewpoint, and then try to have a civilized chat about it, rather than just dismissing them as being “too easily offended” and scolding them for being “argumentative”? Why post this stuff if it just leads to exasperation and shutting down the comment section?
I will admit that the comment sections on my own blog are set to shut down after a certain time. I don’t do that on the travel blog, because most of the stuff posted there isn’t controversial. I do it on this blog, because sometimes people find old content and try to stir up shit on subjects that are old news. I don’t get enough productive comments from people on old content to justify leaving comment sections open, although I’m always open to re-evaluating my policies. I prefer to let my regular readers be the ones who comment, though, and they usually do so on posts when they’re new. Troublemakers and spammers hit the old stuff.
I try not to be hypocritical, and while it can be hard, when I’m wrong, I do try to admit to it. I’ve been wrong about a lot of things. I’ve also been right about a lot of things. I think it’s best to try to stay open-minded about most topics, although I can agree that sometimes people can be so open-minded their brains can fall out. Or, that’s my opinion, anyway.
I guess my main point is that opinions run the gamut. As my favorite uncle, Brownlee, used to say “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one.” I know he didn’t come up with that quote, nor did he come up with the follow on… “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one, and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks.” I think that’s pretty accurate, don’t you? I just wish people who claim to be open-minded and desirous of discussion would take a moment to examine their own behaviors before pointing out other people’s bad behaviors. Because chances are, the speck you’re trying to remove from someone else’s eye is obscured by the plank in your own. And yes… I know that’s a concept that comes from the Bible.
Maybe I learned something in Sunday School, after all. Praise be!
Well hello there, folks. It’s already Friday, and I’m sitting here with mild, vague discomfort in the left upper quadrant. I’m wondering if I have an ulcer, or something worse. It will either go away, or I will be forced to access the German healthcare system, which I don’t really want to do for a lot of reasons. I’m sorry to say that one reason I don’t want to visit a German doctor is because I don’t see the point of sticking around the cesspool the world is sinking into. I mean it. Every day, I feel a little more hopeless that things will ever be “normal” again, as more and more extremists try to shut down respectful discourse.
Last night, I wrote a rant about how people were busting my chops about a comment I made on an article about Virginia Military Institute. In that case, most of the people who were coming at me were people who are probably referred to as “liberals”. They saw a shocking 1997 era photo of a small young woman being screamed at by VMI cadets, and automatically assumed that the school is an abusive hellhole. For many people, VMI probably could be considered an abusive hellhole. When I commented, I repeatedly reiterated that it’s not the kind of college that I would have enjoyed. However, I know a lot of people loved their experiences at VMI. Should I champion shutting it down just because it’s not for me? Because I know that although it has a long history of racist and sexist policies, the truth is, VMI has made a lot of progress.
For instance, a couple of years ago, they finally took down the famous Stonewall Jackson statue that cadets had to salute every day. Stonewall Jackson is a legend at VMI, but he’s a controversial figure. The statue that was removed was a gift to the college from sculptor Sir Moses Ezekiel, Class of 1866, VMI’s first Jewish cadet, and a veteran of the Battle of New Market. It had been there since 1912, and thousands of young men, most of them White people, honored it every day. But times changed, and VMI eventually desegregated. In 1997, it became coed. And, after years of controversy, the statue was finally moved to a less prominent, less visible place.
Still, I’m sure that this week, new cadets are experiencing “Hell Week” as they enter the Rat Line. This is well-known ritual that has gone on for many years. It’s a variation of what anyone who joins the military goes through, although maybe people in basic training don’t get harassed by people only a couple of years older than them at the same level VMI “rats” do. But– people still choose to attend, and they are often rewarded for graduating. Just because it’s not for me, should I really be championing to deny that experience to the people who want it? Should people who have no experience or actual knowledge about a college or university have the right to declare it “abusive”? I mentioned last night that I have experienced abuse and inappropriate encounters many times, in various places and situations. Should I want to shut down Longwood University, because there are some assholes there who are abusive? I don’t think so. Because the good outweighs the bad– both at Longwood, and at VMI.
I wouldn’t want to attend a religious college. I would never willingly go to Brigham Young University or Pensacola Christian College. But many people go to those schools and love them. Some people thrive there. Isn’t it a great thing to have freedom of choice? People can and do vote with their wallets, right? We still have the right to vote. For now, anyway… I don’t think we should ban religious universities, just because I wouldn’t want to attend one. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable take. We all have a path in life.
So last night, I was feeling attacked by “leftist” people. This morning, I felt similarly attacked by right wing folks. I read a Washington Post op-ed about Liz Cheney. It was written by a man named Marc A. Thiessen, who titled his piece “Why Republicans don’t want to join Liz Cheney on her Kamikaze Mission”. The main idea of the op-ed is that Cheney sacrificed her political career because she’s more interested in defeating Donald Trump than “getting rid of” Joe Biden. Thiessen went on to blame a lot of global problems on Mr. Biden, and presented him as more “evil” and “corrupt” than the man who incited violence when he lost the presidential election, and has been trying to overthrow the government ever since.
So I made a comment along the lines that I don’t understand why Republicans can’t see that the emperor has no clothes. I don’t agree with Liz Cheney’s politics, but I respect her integrity and bravery. I don’t think we’ve heard the last from her. Personally, I think her quest to rid the country of Trump makes her heroic, even if I would never vote for her. She’s sane and decent, and she values our democracy much more than Trump and his cronies ever will.
Some guy came along, gave me an eyeroll, and sarcastically posted “Because Joe Biden has been so good for the country. Sit down.”
I responded to the guy thusly: “You sit down. I have as much right to comment as anyone does.”
Then another guy demanded that I “prove” that Joe Biden has been better. Then he called me a “dumb libtard.” I find this especially rich, since Facebook “restricted” me for using the word “dumb” a few months ago. But this guy can call me a “dumb libtard”, even though I am far from dumb, and I’m not particularly liberal. I’m for fairness and sanity.
So I wrote, “You obviously haven’t been paying attention, and you are a name caller to boot. Welcome to my block list.”
Then I blocked both men. I started thinking about this situation, and it reminded me of a discussion I saw on Janis Ian’s Facebook page. She posted that she had removed her Quote of the Day (today’s featured photo), because people were arguing about its merit, due to the controversial nature of the person who was quoted. I see that a few hours later, she reposted the quote, but limited who can comment on it. Below is the explanation she gave for removing it:
I’ve removed today’s QOTD. Though the quote was valid, and true, I have a busy day ahead and don’t feel like spending hours explaining to people that what’s important is the quote, not the person who said it. Let alone bouncing and blocking people who attack me for quoting a person they don’t like.
Judging by the initial responses, most posters worried more about the contemptible idiot who said it than they did about the quote.
I’m really tired of people trying to invalidate quotes because they don’t like the person being. quoted. Those are the same people who dismiss an artist’s work because they don’t like the artist’s politics. So let me ask this. How is that different from people who burned my records when they found out I was gay?
We don’t dismiss quotes by Socrates, a pederast. Roald Dahl was a racist and an anti-Semite. Hitchcock terrorized women, Chanel was a Nazi spy, Aristotle considered women “deformed men”, and John Lennon beat his first wife. I’ve quoted all of them to no objections.
So. Is it okay to consider a quote by a contemptible human being only if their politics agree with yours? Do you only learn from those you admire, or do you learn from anything worthwhile?
A lot of people insisted I remove the quote because of the person who said it. I want to be clear – that’s not why I removed it. I removed it because today, I refuse to spend my time back in grade school, playing hall monitor.
As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
That thread generated a lot of discussion, with most people supporting Janis. I’m convinced that a lot of people truly do stay silent, because they don’t want to get into arguments with idiots. I will admit, that’s often me. I usually vent in this blog, instead. But I’m beginning to think that comment sections could benefit from fair, balanced, and reasonable comments from moderate thinkers like me. If it means I get trolled, insulted, and harassed, so what? I can always block them, and then bust them in my blog. But no, I will not “sit down”, nor will I allow someone to call me a “libtard” and then comply with their demands that I dance to their tune. Like I have said more than once, I am nobody’s ass monkey.
In spite of what some people might think, given my extreme anti-Trump attitudes, I am not against conservatives. I am against the bastardization of the Republican Party that is passing for conservatism right now. Until the party changes to something more moderate, I won’t be voting for Republicans, even if I admire some of them for doing what is obviously the “right” thing. There is no place for a corrupt leader like Donald Trump in our democracy. So I will speak out, and I will do my part to vote out these cancers on our society. I have to… because I have seen what else is in the world. Too many Americans have never left where they grew up, and have no perspective beyond what is two feet in front of them.
I won’t sit down. I won’t be quiet. And I am not going to either extreme. I think people have the right to choose, should vote their consciences, and speak out when they want to speak out. But this should be done in a civilized manner, with people hearing each other out and not resorting to name calling, ridiculing, or discounting. The people I’ve encountered in comment sections over the past eighteen hours or so are too busy pushing their narrative to learn new things. As Trump would say, that’s “SAD”.
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