mental health, psychology, rants

I didn’t even know this was a thing…

Living in Germany for seven years has taken me out of the loop regarding certain American cultural mores. Like, for instance, Halloween etiquette. Germans are catching on to Halloween, but by and large, it’s not really a thing here. I do remember years past, when Bill and I were living in the United States. We would carve a jack o’ lantern (poorly) and wait for kids in cute costumes to ring the bell and yell “trick or treat!”. When we lived on Fort Belvoir, we would get dozens of kids on Halloween! But now, if we buy candy for Halloween, we mostly end up eating it ourselves.

Anyway, a friend of mine has three sons that she worked very hard for… When I say she “worked hard”, I mean it took a lot of effort for her to get, and stay, pregnant. She finally had a son and twin boys, and she’s really into raising them. We became friends at a time when I was also hoping to become a mother. I didn’t work as hard at it as she did, though.

One of my friends’ children has autism. I don’t know how high on the spectrum the lad is, but I do see his mom posting a lot about autism and the causes associated with it. Yesterday, she posted this image.

Wow… I wouldn’t have even known what to think if someone rang my bell and had a blue pumpkin bucket.

I think I had dimly heard of the teal candy bucket for kids with food allergies. I don’t think I ever knew anything about the blue buckets for people with autism. Either way, if someone comes to my house trick or treating, of course I’m going to give them candy. I can’t imagine why someone would give a person a hard time on a night that’s supposed to be about fun. I don’t even care if it’s an adult who’s got their hand out, looking for a sweet. Who cares? I also would never fat shame someone on Halloween– I do remember a few years ago, some woman getting in the news because she handed out fat shaming letters to fat kids on Halloween instead of giving them candy. That sucks!

But again, it’s been a long time since I last was expected to pass out any candy on October 31, and many of the places we’ve lived in the States haven’t been conducive to trick or treaters, anyway. In Georgia and North Carolina, we lived way out in the boonies and didn’t have many neighbors, and we never got Halloween visitors. So this is an issue I probably would have stayed ignorant to, if not for my online friend with a child who has autism.

I probably took more interest in the above post because I also recently got into it with a woman who is mutually friended to a lady I met on the Recovery from Mormonism message board. The woman who argued with me, took offense because I disagree with banning the word “retard”. I don’t think people should be using that word as an insult, but to ban it outright is a bridge too far, in my view. It has other meanings besides the insulting one.

In the course of that argument about why she thinks the word “retard” should be forbidden, the woman told me that one of my comments was “stupid”. I took that as hugely hypocritical and ended up blocking her, because she was being offensive and wasting my time. It seems to me that if a person doesn’t want to be insulted, they shouldn’t be insulting to others. But again, she said she has autism, and maybe people with autism lack the ability to practice what they preach. I honestly don’t know. I am ignorant on that topic.

I will totally admit that I don’t know much about autism. I probably would have known more if Bill had been able to raise his older daughter, who is reportedly on the spectrum. But the fact remains, I don’t know too much about this phenomenon… only that when I was growing up, we didn’t hear about it nearly as much as we do now. I’m sure it existed, and there were probably many undiagnosed people who had it and were trying to function in a world made for neurotypical people. Things seem to have been a lot more black and white when I was a kid.

Nowadays, it seems like everyone feels like all of the people in the world should automatically change their way of thinking and doing things. Many people seem to be loudly and aggressively demanding that change. Not surprisingly, they’re being met with resistance by people who don’t like to be told what to do. I’m not saying the change isn’t necessary. It often is. But expecting everyone and everything to change on a dime is unrealistic and unfair. Aside from that, people are going to occasionally fuck up and say or do something insensitive. That’s life.

I appreciate the people who feel the need to be educators and activists on the autism issue. I don’t mind being clued in on things I don’t know about. But I am a little bit confused about some things. First off– do people want special treatment or consideration because they have a certain disability? Or do they want to be treated like everyone else is treated? It seems to me that if they want to be treated like everyone else is treated, it’s not realistic to also expect special treatment.

If someone wants to be treated like everyone else is treated, autism or other issues must be irrelevant. Declaring a need for certain considerations means that a person isn’t like everyone else is. That doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of respect. It simply means that the person has special needs that need to be accommodated and, in fact, they aren’t like everyone else is. What’s wrong with that, as long the differences are handled with kindness, discretion, and sensitivity?

Secondly, do people want complete privacy? Or do they want special consideration because they have a certain condition? If they want privacy, how can they expect special consideration for a medical problem? If I don’t know anything about someone’s health challenges, how can I know what their needs are? How can I address them?

Take, for instance, the exchange I had last week with the woman who argued with me over disagreeing that the word “retard” should be banned. When she responded, she immediately qualified her first statement by saying, “I have autism.”

I thought to myself, “So?” So you have autism. Does that mean I don’t get to have an opinion about this? Like I said, I don’t know much about autism, but I do know that having it doesn’t mean a person has a poor intellect. Should I have felt sorry for her for having autism? Does it give her license to speak to me in any way she pleases? Or should I treat her the way I would treat anyone who aggressively attacks my opinions?

The woman who argued with me clearly was articulate enough. Do people routinely call her “retarded”? If so, that’s definitely wrong. But she’s obviously not someone with a slow intellect anyway. Based on what little I could tell about her, she should have been capable of understanding my point without attacking me and calling me “stupid”. We should have been able to have a calm discussion without her laying into me aggressively and sarcastically. Or is that not possible with a person who has autism? I honestly don’t know. If being unable to be respectful is a feature of autism, I hope someone will tell me. But even if it is a feature, how would I even know that a random person has autism if they don’t tell me? And if I don’t know, how can I give them special consideration?

I think everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and basic respect. That means giving people the benefit of the doubt if they disagree. Just because someone doesn’t share your views, that doesn’t necessarily always mean they’re a bad person or even in need of “education”. They might just have a different perspective, and maybe it’s one you’ve never even considered. Also, opinions aren’t facts. Everyone has a right to their opinions, but they should not be presented as facts.

My favorite color happens to be blue. When I was a child, I probably would have loved to have had a blue pumpkin as my candy bucket. And my mom, who wasn’t up on all the childhood trends, even in the early 1980s, probably would have bought it for me out of sheer ignorance. I would expect that if I went door to door looking for candy on Halloween night, the people in my neighborhood wouldn’t have given me any shit about having a blue pumpkin, but not having autism or some other disorder. It would not have been their business.

The comments on the original post about the blue pumpkin got pretty heated. I noticed some people were lauding the post, but others took huge issue with it. Things got pretty wild. Have a look.

Like I said, I don’t know much about autism. My guess, based on the above comments and my recent interaction with someone claiming to be autistic, is that people with autism are very sensitive about some things. I can see that none of the people commenting above have any issues with their intellects. They are all writing coherently and correctly. But they’ve all aggressively dog piled on this woman who disagreed with them, albeit in a rude and profane way, and are now engaging in some of the behavior that they were initially denouncing. I’ve seen similar behavior in other online discussions, particularly in military circles. I find this kind of behavior disturbing, and I highly doubt much came of this discussion, other than some raised adrenaline.

It seems to me that being kinder and less antagonistic would net better results than being accusatory and insulting… Yes, the first poster was wrong to say the post was “full of shit”, and she was wrong to write “only an idiot”. But then the mob descends upon her, questioning her parenting skills, saying she’s a poor example to her child, and making sweeping assessments of a perfect stranger’s character. It seems very hypocritical to me. What would have happened if most of them had responded in a calm, kind, and understanding manner, rather than resorting to lecturing, shaming, and insults of their own? But again, maybe this is a part of autism that I don’t know anything about. People with autism get to be shaming, but other people have to be “respectful” toward them.

In any case… I think the original poster, who’s been threatened with “banning”, should bow out of that group and find one that is less hostile. It doesn’t appear that she’s very welcome there, which is a shame. Maybe she DOES need to be educated. At the same time, the folks in the autism group are certainly right to try to educate people, but there’s a way to do so that won’t be alienating. Other people have the right to their opinions, too. And it’s hard to get anywhere in a discussion when it devolves into namecalling and insults. There’s no reason in the world why people in that group should have said such personally insulting things to a total stranger, even if the original poster did initially come off as rude and offensive.

And if people don’t want to be “outed” for having autism, perhaps they shouldn’t be using it as a pass for being so hostile and insulting to other people. I get wanting to be respected. Everybody wants that. But just because a person has autism or some other issue, that doesn’t give them the right to expect special consideration and engage in hypocrisy, particularly in an online interaction. I’ve found that people often mirror back to you what you put into the world. Besides that, everyone has challenges and difficulties. I don’t have autism, but people have been mean to me, too. I try not to let it get me down for too long.

That being said… anyone who knocks on my door on Halloween is welcome to candy, regardless of their age, weight, costume, or whether or not they say “trick or treat”. Because I don’t need any more presents for my ass.

Standard
lessons learned, poor judgment, true crime

If I were in Skylar’s shoes…

Yesterday’s post about Skylar Mack has attracted a lot of attention. Or, it’s attracted a lot of attention by this blog’s standards. This blog doesn’t usually get that much traffic. Ever since I switched platforms from Blogger to WordPress, my hit counts have been down. I’ve been slowly rebuilding my audience since February 2019, but if I’m honest, I’m not in a hurry to do so. I don’t blog for popularity or money. I blog because I feel compelled to write down my thoughts.

I have always been a writer at heart. I’ve always kept journals, even if I haven’t always been in the habit of writing every day. Feeling compelled to write is just one of my innate quirks. I choose to leave most of my posts public because I genuinely enjoy interacting with most people, even if they don’t agree with me. I often learn from comments and interactions with people. But sometimes my thoughts and opinions attract contention, and while a little bit of that is okay, too much can be distressing.

Yesterday’s post about Skylar Mack came about after I’d had a Facebook discussion with some friends about her case. I had posted about it because I read an article about Skylar Mack’s predicament in The New York Times. Then I read some of the comments posted on The New York Times’ Facebook page. The vast majority of the responses left by the masses were really negative. Some of the comments were personal, mean-spirited, and nasty, with some judgments about her character that I felt were unfair. I also read that she and her family were getting hate mail and death threats. That seems very wrong to me.

I started thinking about how I would feel if I were in Skylar’s shoes back in 1990, when I was her age. Like Skylar, I am white and blonde, and come from a relatively privileged family from the South. I can’t help any of those things. They just are what they are. Skylar also can’t help being white or privileged. She’s prettier than I was, and I certainly couldn’t have been a pre-med student because I don’t have a head for math and science, or a stomach for looking at blood and guts. But other than that, we have things in common.

First, it occurred to me that when I was 18, I had the benefit of relative privacy. There was no widespread Internet usage in those days, so people who were arrested could enjoy a lot more anonymity than they can today. Yes, your name might appear in the local newspapers, but not everybody reads the paper from cover to cover and there was no social media feed. Had Skylar Mack been 18 in 1990, she probably would have been arrested in the Cayman Islands and no one would have ever known about it. She also probably would not have gotten a four month prison sentence, because there would be no reason to make her an “example”. Americans would likely not be reading about what was going on in the Cayman Islands and thus would not likely be affected by how strict the local authorities appear to be.

Next, I imagined how I would feel if I were Skylar Mack, being arrested for the first time and having it happen in a foreign country. It would have been mortifying enough if this had happened in 1990, when I was 18. I would have been ashamed, humiliated, devastated, and horrified, without any of what happened being leaked widespread to the media. But in 1990, I would have had the ability to take my punishment without dealing with the court of public opinion chiming in.

Then I started thinking about what it must be like for Skylar and her family to be reading the vitriol being spewed about her case by total strangers around the world. So many people, who have never even met her and know nothing about her, were making sweeping negative statements about what kind of person she is. It occurred to me that while Skylar Mack made a huge mistake, she’s also done a lot of things right. I don’t think it’s right to condemn a person simply for screwing up. Everybody screws up sometimes. I wouldn’t want people to treat me or someone I care about in that way. It’s also not lost on me that Skylar’s family is likely responsible for putting this story out there.

Then I realized that Skylar Mack still has something to offer the world, despite having made a blunder. She has reportedly wanted to be a physician since she was a child. She’s been on the way to making that lofty goal come to fruition. But she’s also 18, and 18 year olds don’t magically become adults with common sense or maturity simply because they have become legal adults.

I have known a lot of teenagers who were very mature for their ages. And I have also known people well into their 30s and 40s who still act like children. I suspect that Skylar Mack is a typical 18 year old, who hasn’t quite crossed the bridge to maturity and is a bit self-absorbed. But, prior to this incident, she’s been on the right track. She still has so many years to go. To read some of the responses on The New York Times, you’d think she should be beheaded for simply wanting to have a good time.

Next I started looking at what actually happened. Skylar chose not to quarantine, but her choice not to quarantine did not harm anyone, as she was not infected. Yes, she could have spread COVID-19 by attending that jet ski competition. She also could have spread it by going to the grocery store or riding a bus. COVID-19 is, unfortunately, a very wily virus that spreads like crazy. I don’t think traveling right now is a smart decision, and I agree that she should have followed the guidelines set to slow and hopefully stop the virus from spreading. But when it comes down to it, she wasn’t a spreader. She could have been one, but she wasn’t, and she was tested twice, then quarantined for the two weeks she was supposed to quarantine. I think that point deserves consideration.

Then I started thinking about the length of the sentence and what it would accomplish. Skylar Mack is a productive young woman who is (or was) on her way to becoming a physician. There could be a day when she’s treating people with COVID-19. Right now, we need people who are willing and able to work with the sick. She did not show the best judgment last month, when she chose to ignore the quarantine regulations. But again, she’s 18 years old, and apparently not fully baked yet. Science has shown us that most people’s brains aren’t fully developed until they are 25 years old. Skylar still has another seven years before she’s 25. It’s perfectly normal for her to have lapses in judgment. From the link:

The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.

In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.

In teens’ brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.

Four months to someone who is 18 will seem a lot longer than it does to someone my age. Having had a look at the conditions of the jails in the Cayman Islands, it occurred to me that Skylar could have lasting psychological damage from being incarcerated down there. A 2018 article about the Northward Prison in the Cayman Islands describes the facilities as “filled to capacity”. An accompanying photograph shows a rather grim looking facility. Another 2018 article describes the women’s prison at Fairbanks as “overflowing”. I see no reason why those conditions would be different in 2020, although they could be.

So here we have a young woman who has never been in trouble with the law and is working toward becoming a much needed medical professional being locked up for months because she had a lapse in judgment– something that is scientifically proven to be very normal for 18 year olds. Her lapse in judgment, while disrespectful, irresponsible, and immature, didn’t actually harm anyone. She was not infected with COVID-19, as far as I know. So sitting in a prison cell would probably not do much more than give her nightmares and ruin what was a bright future.

Last night, just before I went to bed, I saw that the powers that be in the Cayman Islands agreed with me that Skylar’s punishment was too harsh. They reduced her sentence to two months, which I think is reasonable and sensible. She will get a taste of being incarcerated, but won’t have to languish in a jail cell until March. Plenty of people still think she should just sit and rot in jail and have her future ruined. I wonder if they would take an active interest in this case after reading the headlines. When February 2021 rolls around, are they still going to think Skylar Mack should rot in a cell? Or are they just blowing off steam and/or virtue signaling?

I could have added my own comment to The New York Times’ Facebook post. I opted to write a blog post instead, because I have found that people who comment on Facebook are not usually very deep thinkers. They have a knee jerk reaction to something, form an opinion, and spout off. And I am not interested in getting into a pointless argument with someone, especially a stranger, who makes sweeping assumptions about people without knowing the facts or even considering another perspective. That’s a waste of my time and energy, and does nothing more than raise my blood pressure. But I still felt the need to write, so I did.

One of my friends, whom I think leans conservative but wrote that she thinks Skylar should sit in prison, told me that she didn’t think my opinion was unpopular. She based her perspective on what her friends were saying. I could be wrong, but my guess is that a lot of “pro-Trump” types are aligning themselves with Eric Trump’s Tweeted comments about this case.

Let me make myself clear. I may agree with Eric Trump that the sentence was excessive, but I doubt we agree for the same reasons.

I think Eric Trump’s Tweet is likely less about genuine concern for Skylar Mack’s welfare and more about being a privileged and entitled American. That is NOT why I think Skylar’s sentence was rightfully reduced. I genuinely feel that Skylar’s originally amended sentence of four months was unfair and unproductive and could do more harm than good. I think she would get the point just as easily with two months in jail as she would with four months, and there might be fewer lasting effects that screw up her life. And my impressions of what people were thinking weren’t at all based on what my peers were saying; they were based on what total strangers by the thousands were commenting. I think many of those comments were made more out of anger, frustration, and not wanting to look like a “privileged American”, than any real thinking about what actually happened.

As an American who lives in Germany, trust me– I am very aware of how Americans look to others. I don’t want to look like that, either. But I also don’t think it’s right to punish Skylar more harshly simply because of where she came from and what she looks like. I have never met Skylar Mack, but I think she should get the benefit of the doubt, especially since she’s very young and this was her first offense. I’m sure she won’t make this mistake again.

I also became so resolute about this case because I don’t feel like I should be expected to agree with others, simply because others have an opinion that is more popular. Yesterday, several people seemed to be trying very hard to change my mind or convince me that my perspective is wrong, ill-considered, or flawed. Believe me. I have read why so many people think why Skylar Mack should rot in a cell. A lot of those people seem very focused on retribution rather than rehabilitation or genuine correction. I don’t think that is useful, especially since those who are assuming she’s an entitled little shit won’t even care about this in a few days, but this will affect Skylar’s future from now on.

All I did was share my opinion. At the end of the day, that’s all it is… an opinion. My opinion has no bearing on Skylar Mack’s case whatsoever. I never once said she should get off “scot free”. It seems that the local authorities in the Cayman Islands must have agreed with me, to some extent, because they did reduce her sentence by two months. I think that was a reasonable compromise. But the way some people behave, you’d think that sharing and defending my contrary opinion merits some kind of “re-education” effort, as if I can’t possibly see how wrong Skylar was to do what she did. I agree that she was wrong. I just don’t think her mistake merits public flogging and character assassination in addition to a jail sentence and a fine. Several people tried to “correct” my opinion about this case, even though an opinion is all it is. I think the world would be a very dull place if people weren’t allowed to make up their own minds and express themselves.

Like I said, in a matter of days, virtually no one will be talking about this case anymore. But if that four month sentence had stuck, Skylar would still be rotting in jail and potentially exposed to dangers that could permanently affect her health and livelihood. I think that’s worth considering. So that’s why I’ve written so much about this case and expressed myself so stubbornly as somewhat of an ally for Skylar. Plenty of people think she should rot. I want to be among those who think she still has something to offer the world and can redeem herself. I think she could use the support.

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

It’s just… like… my opinion, man…

I was a bit irritable yesterday. It started as I cracked open my eyes for the first time and read a post in the Duggar Family News group. Someone had posted a screenshot from Jinger Vuolo’s Instagram page. It was from the church she and her husband, Jeremy, are now attending.

Someone’s comment was “How about everyone stay the F home, Jinger?”

Another commenter wrote:

why. This is a virus. We never shut down Before. For viruses. The flu has killed more. The cdc said they gave wrong numbers less then 1%have died. If your not ready stay home. Stop the control

Now… as most of us who have been watching the news know, COVID-19 is not like the flu. A whole lot of people have died of the coronavirus. It really is a scary thing. BUT… there are still people out there like the woman I quoted just above this paragraph who have a different perspective. I don’t agree with her, but I think she should be heard and not automatically and summarily dismissed, even though most everyone else disagrees with her opinion. The original commenter immediately piled on this woman with derision.

“Wow! You are grossly misinformed.”

When I see a comment like that in response to someone who dares to say something that goes against the grain, my hackles go up a little. I know what is to follow will not be productive. What followed was a lot of insults and sarcasm, and even some new “Facebook groups” made solely to insult the woman who said COVID-19 is not as bad as the flu. I think this is how we get people like Donald Trump in charge.

People who are “woke” and “know better” are shitty to people who don’t share their opinions. The people who feel shat upon become disenfranchised and insulted, and they lash out by voting in loudmouthed buffoons like Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, who promise to speak for them. And can you blame them? In the case of Trump, maybe… although time after time, Trump supporters have said they like him because he speaks like and for them (even if the reality is, he disdains regular folks). No one wants to be treated like they don’t matter. People don’t like it when you insinuate that they’re stupid. And besides, if you don’t listen to opinions that don’t match yours, how can you learn what the other side of an issue is?

I see one somewhat “nice” comment in this thread. The rest are mostly shitty, and the insults continued for a long time in posts I didn’t feel like copying.

For the record, I am with the people who say COVID-19 is much worse than the flu. However, I’m not a fan of the whole “gotcha” phenomenon surrounding most controversial topics these days, and the complete lack of civility people have when they disagree with each other, especially online. It’s no wonder we have a bunch of people who get so unhinged that they freak out. I’m not sure what these people were trying to do when they responded, but in my experience, insulting and being sarcastic to people doesn’t change their minds. It mostly makes them more entrenched in their beliefs. Yes, I agree that COVID-19 is deadly, but is it really necessary to be so shitty? Why not respond with a modicum of respect, at least at first? If they respond with snark and shittiness, then perhaps you can fire back in kind. But I advise only a little bit of return fire, because those kinds of arguments are truly a waste of time and convince no one of anything.

Awhile later, someone else shared this picture of Candace Cameron Bure, whose husband of 24 years was photographed caressing her boob.

Some Christians apparently lost their fucking minds over this…

Candace Cameron Bure said, “For all you Christians that are questioning my post with my husband’s hand on my boob, my husband of 24 years, thinking it was inappropriate, it makes me laugh because it’s my husband,” she said in a video on her Instagram stories. “We have so much fun together. He can touch me anytime he wants and I hope he does. This is what a healthy, good marriage and relationship is all about so I’m sorry if it offended you.”

“I’m actually not sorry,” she added, laughing.

CNN actually ran a story about this. I guess it was a slow news day.

A long thread then ensued, with many people writing about what a creep they think Candace Cameron Bure is. I read all kinds of comments from “triggered” people who wrote everything from claiming that Candace is an “attention whore” (hello– she’s an actress! It’s kind of her job!) to one person writing that s/he felt that Candace was putting down the choices of unmarried people. Like– she’s been married for 24 years, so it’s okay for her husband to grab her breast in a photo. But it’s not okay for people who aren’t married to grope each other in public. I sincerely doubt Candace woke up one morning and thought to herself, “What can I post online that will bait and trigger the non-Christians out there and make them feel badly about themselves?” However, some people thought that was what she meant to do and were venting about it.

Personally, as someone who is not all that invested in Candace Cameron Bure’s beliefs or even her acting career, I think it’s awesome that she addressed the Christians who were reaching for the smelling salts over her boob groping post. So I wrote this:

She is so much cooler than her brother is. (17 likes so far)

For that comment, I got a bunch of responses from women who felt the need to “correct” my opinion.

You can see my final response, which some people evidently thought was funny. I wrote:

All I said is that I think she is so much cooler than her brother is. It doesn’t mean I admire or emulate her. I mean, being way cooler than Kirk Cameron is a pretty low standard, isn’t it? Anyway, I don’t really care to argue about this. If you think she’s an abusive bigot or out of touch, that’s fine with me. We don’t have to agree.  

See you later. I’ve got to go frost my bush.  😉

Frosting one’s bush… that is a Carlinism. George Carlin had a routine about keeping people on their toes. He suggested going into a hair salon and asking the stylist to frost your bush. I think of it as sort of a more interesting way of saying, “I’ve gotta go wash my hair.” In other words, this is an unproductive conversation and I’m out of it.

At 8:20, he talks about having one’s pubic hair streaked… God, I miss George.

Interesting side note. When I was growing up, a lot of my contemporaries had crushes on Kirk Cameron, who was at that time starring on the ABC sitcom, Growing Pains. Yes, I also watched that show, but I much preferred Family Ties, and not just because I looked so much like Tina Yothers. And I never had a crush on Kirk. However, I never thought he would go from teen heartthrob to super evangelical Christian. I don’t agree with his beliefs, but as long as they don’t affect me personally, I don’t really care too much about them, either. It’s not like he’s friends or family. Same thing with his sister.

It irritates me when people feel the need to correct other people’s opinions. It’s one thing if a person is passing off harmful opinions as facts. I guess I don’t blame people for feeling compelled to address the woman in the first example I posted, although I think people who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 message by now are just going to have to find out for themselves.

I just wish those who feel the need to be corrective would do it in a more constructive way that leads to dialogue, rather than resorting to petty insults and blocking communication. I would rather see people trying to convince people in a positive way, rather than just being rude. While they probably won’t change minds either way, I do think that those who want to “correct” others would be more successful if they allowed for a meaningful conversation rather than angrily calling people out for not being with the program.

Ah, The Big Lebowski. I tried to watch this film twice and didn’t like it either time. But I do like this line.

In the second example, I simply wrote that I think Candace Cameron Bure is much cooler than her brother is. As far as I’m concerned, she really is. But I will admit, I don’t obsess over her career or her personal life, nor do I pay attention to her child rearing methods. I did read one of her books and I remember her as a child actress. I don’t watch her on TV anymore, but she does seem to be a lot more moderate than her brother is. As I explained, that doesn’t mean much, and it certainly doesn’t mean I need to be taken to school. It’s just my opinion, man.

I don’t enjoy getting into petty spats with people, especially online, and especially with strangers. I think they’re mostly a waste of time. Some readers who follow my personal Facebook page may recall the post from last year that I shared yesterday. It was about two American people who wanted to tell me about how life is in Germany, even though they’ve not been here. In revisiting that post, I realize that I did engage with one of those people for a lot longer than I should have. I left that exchange with her still insisting that her anecdotal evidence was superior to my actual, real life experience. But you can’t argue with people who just don’t get it and refuse to see it. And if it’s just their opinion, you’re probably facing a losing battle. It’s not the most productive way to spend a precious Saturday. You’re better off frosting your bush at the barber shop.

Standard
lessons learned, social media

Never argue with a fool…

Now, more than ever, I think it’s important for people to stay out of other people’s faces. For obvious reasons, it’s a good idea to be distant. But since it’s also election season, I’ve seen a lot of people figuratively getting up in other people’s faces. I wonder if these people have given any thought to how they come across to others… or if they even care.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I have a bunch of cousins on my dad’s side of the family. One of my uncles married a very opinionated woman who is now deceased. My aunt was one of those people who loved to argue, even if a lot of her opinions were very one-sided and lacked perspective. My uncle, likewise, enjoys arguing. Both of them were heavy drinkers back in the day. My uncle is probably still a drunk. I don’t know, because I haven’t spoken to him in over three years, mainly because the last time I did, he called me a “nut case” because I disagree with him about Donald Trump making America great again.

My aunt and uncle produced four sons, all of whom are also very opinionated. They have cousins on their mother’s side who are just as opinionated. When I was still Facebook friends with most of that part of the family, I used to regularly see heated arguments, as my aunt’s family has a lively mix of extremely liberal and conservative people within it and they would publicly clash with each other on social media.

My cousin’s daughter, my first cousin once removed, is intelligent, sensitive, and very liberal. Lately, she’s been posting a lot of things about #BlackLivesMatter. That has inflamed her family members on both sides. Her grandfather’s side (my uncle’s side) of the family is conservative enough, but there’s also a cousin on her grandmother’s side (my aunt’s side) who is extremely conservative and has no problems opening verbal fire on anyone who enters a discussion with her.

I left a comment on this meme my cousin shared…

Another cousin had angrily posted that the above meme was “wrong”. This was his comment:

This is ridiculous. Race and audience are irrelevant and this insinuates police did this out of malice and there is no justifiable reason that this could ever happen. Garbage.

An argument ensued, and the same cousin posted this additional comment to the one above:

…there are justifiable reasons to shoot a man in the back. For example, someone running and firing a weapon at you.
Or, in a case like this, fending off police with a knife to keep them at a distance then saying you’re going to get your gun out of your car and running out of an area they can deter you non-lethally.
Having your kids there does not protect you from their right to self defense.

He has demonstrated the means and intent to kill the police and every second they didnt take action put them further at risk. 

If it was about blasting a black man in front of his kids, they wouldn’t have had to wait until he said he was going to get his gun to shoot them.

You can call me a coward on the street, but if someone told me they were going to get their gun out of their car and shoot me after threatening me with a knife, i wouldn’t wait for him to turn around with a pistol.

My comment was this:

I have a hard time imagining someone running AWAY from someone while also trying to accurately fire a weapon. That sounds like something on TV or in the movies, not something from real life. Either way, shooting someone in the back SEVEN times is excessive.

I based my comment on my own experience firing weapons. It’s pretty hard to be accurate with a gun, even when you’re standing still. Imagine being scared, loaded with adrenaline, and running away from someone while also trying to fire a weapon and actually hitting the target you want to hit. It doesn’t seem plausible to me.

I noticed I got a notification from my cousin’s female relative on my aunt’s side. I didn’t even read it until just now, though, because I had been observing the way she was interacting with other people who weren’t on her team. This was what she posted to me. I wholeheartedly disagree with her comment, but I’m still not going to respond, because I’ve seen her in action with other people. I know it would be a waste of time. I will give her credit, though, for not calling me “honey” or going ad hominem, as I have seen her do with other people.

“excessive” perhaps, but imagine if you were one of the officers trying to subdue this man. He told them he was getting his gun from his car to shoot them. Now imagine the 14 yr old that he raped was your daughter… he wasn’t an upstanding citizen. He resisted arrest. He should be thankful he’s still alive.

Regardless of what the man said, or my hypothetical 14 year old daughter who might have been raped, I still don’t think police officers should be killing or seriously injuring people as often as they do. This isn’t a huge problem in other countries. It shouldn’t be a problem in the so-called “best” country in the world, either. I understand the reasons why it’s a problem. We have a huge issue with racism in the United States, as well as free access to guns and a society where many people glorify violence.

I’m sure my cousin’s relative, who wants me to consider my hypothetical 14 year old daughter being raped, is not upset that Mr. Turner got out of jail so early. She already supports a president who brags about grabbing women by the pussy.

We have a political party that is all about protecting the right to bear arms as it also wants to force women to stay pregnant, while not making pregnancy and childbearing feasible and affordable. This party hates the idea of killing the unborn, who aren’t even conscious and have no concept of life, death, or terror; but they have no issues with killing the babies who have already been born, by employing their pro-violence, pro-racism policies.

And if you’re a white guy with a bright future, like former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, you get a pass when you rape someone who is drunk and unconscious. All because you might one day make a lot of money, and no one wants to see your bright future “ruined” by something as “trivial” as raping an unconscious woman behind a Dumpster. /sarcasm

If Brock Turner had been a man with darker skin, you bet your ass he’d still be in prison. Perhaps he might have even been killed as he was caught red-handed by two Swedish graduate students, sexually violating Chanel Miller, who was intoxicated and unconscious at the time. But he wasn’t. He was arrested, tried, and spent a laughably short amount of time in jail. Funny I should mention Sweden, too. That’s a country where police brutality is quite low, despite the fact that many refugees from Middle Eastern countries have settled there. Yes, it’s different in Sweden for many complex reasons that I don’t want to get into in this particular blog post. But the main difference I see is that basic decency among citizens and their leaders is expected.

Swedish police officers vacationing in New York City break up a fight without killing anyone.

In a news article about the off duty Swedish cops who, back in 2015, subdued a homeless guy in New York City, Swedes were reportedly unimpressed by the cops’ heroics. Here’s a screen shot from the news article, in which Swedes explain that it’s part of their culture to help rather than harm.

Why can’t more Americans adopt this attitude? Why can’t I have empathy for a man who was shot seven times in the back by police officers? Why is it necessary for me to excuse violence from professional cops, even if the man who was shot seven times in the back by them might have raped my hypothetical 14 year old daughter?

I read, with much disdain, comments made by Abby Johnson, a “top” RNC speaker and rabid anti-abortion activist, who not only thinks it would be good to have household voting with the husbands being the ones to cast the votes, but also thinks cops should be excused for racially profiling one of her sons. Johnson said,

“Statistically, I look at our prison population and I see that there is a disproportionately high number of African-American males in our prison population for crimes, particularly for violent crimes. So statistically, when a police officer sees a brown man like my Jude walking down the road — as opposed to my white nerdy kids, my white nerdy men  walking down the road — because of the statistics that he knows in his head, that these police officers know in their head, they’re going to know that statistically my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”

“So the fact that in his head, he would be more careful around my brown son than my white son, that doesn’t actually make me angry. That makes that police officer smart, because of statistics.”

Wow… so she thinks that people with brown skin are automatically going to be more violent and more likely to commit crimes, simply because of the color of their skin? She’s never heard of “gentle giants”? She’s never heard of nerdy white guys who sit in their mothers’ basements and eventually get so antisocial that they decide to shoot up schools? I could probably fill another blog post with many paragraphs about the “nerdy white guys” who have killed innocent children– former unborn babies that Johnson supposedly wished to protect before they entered the world as separate beings.

Think about Sandy Hook– 28 six year olds who just wanted to learn something in school– murdered by a nerdy white guy named Adam Lanza. Adam Lanza was just one such “nerdy white guy” of many, who have toted weapons into schools and killed innocent children. But Abby Johnson thinks her brown skinned son, Jude, is a bigger threat “‘cuz statistics”. Okay, then. If cops haven’t figured out that “nerdy white guys” can be threatening, then the cops are pretty damned stupid. And, by now, I’m sure people like Dylann Roof and Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, and Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and all the other “nerdy white guys” should have leveled the statistics about nerdy white guys and “being dangerous” somewhat by now!

Anyway… I could certainly get into it with my cousin’s relative on her grandmother’s side about this… and it would likely get very heated, and one of us might resort to sarcastically calling the other “honey” or “punk assed bitch” or something stupid like that. It becomes uncivilized and unproductive in a hurry and raises my blood pressure.

In fairness, it’s not just the right wingers who are like this. On RfM, once one of my favorite places to hang out when I need a break from Facebook, there are several posters who are aggressively liberal. One of them recently called me a “rape apologist” because I have empathy for the late Mary Kay Letourneau and her former student and ex husband, Vili Fualaau. Whether or not I condone with Mary Kay Letourneau did, she and Vili were married, and he apparently still had much regard for her. I don’t know why he loved her. But he evidently doesn’t consider himself her victim, even if other people do. I think his opinions about Mary Kay Letourneau are much more important than mine are. Moreover, even though these women think his life was “ruined” by Mary Kay’s actions, it’s clear that HE doesn’t think so. And his opinion is more important, in my view. How would those people like it if some unknown stranger in Internetland declared their lives “ruined” without even knowing them personally? I know I wouldn’t like it. Acknowledging that Vili Fualaau might be genuinely sad that his ex wife died, doesn’t make me a “rape apologist”. That’s ridiculous.

You can see two of those posters at work in this recent thread on RfM. Personally, I immediately got what the OP was posting about… people going around “baiting” other people into behaving badly, getting it on video, making the video go viral, and then trying to score a payday or fifteen minutes of fame. I think it does happen. But God forbid someone point this out in a forum on RfM, where a few prominent posters seem to have taken over with their overbearing points of view. I won’t even engage with them anymore, because I simply don’t have the time for it.

Ditto to the COVID-19 mask crusaders who are extremely rude and intolerant toward people who object to wearing face masks. They routinely shut down any discussion whatsoever, even if it has merit (for instance, my example regarding the man who was missing parts of his ears due to going to war). You can’t have an exchange with them without being attacked, insulted, and vilified. So I just don’t bother with it. I’d rather just write a blog post where I can write my thoughts on my own space. But some people don’t even like that I do that, even though they’re in the business of working for the United States government, where freedom of expression is supposedly a “thing”. Only if you express what they want to “hear”, right?

Well… this post is causing me to have to repost a couple of old blog posts/book reviews, so I’ll stop here and get to that. Suffice to say that I have my opinions. I will share them, but I don’t have to defend them or argue with other people about them. I still have a right to them… and other people might think I’m stupid or clueless or call me things like a “rape apologist”. But if I see someone habitually going on the attack or am on the receiving end of an attack, I won’t be wasting my time in the fray.

As the Bible says…

Words to live by.

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complaints, language, rants

Double Repost: Fired for teaching about homophones and “Leave me alone”

I wrote these two posts in August 2014, days after we arrived in Stuttgart, Germany from Texas. I was tired, irritable, and not in the mood to argue. These posts are the end result of an argument I had on Facebook with yet another former Epinionator (explained in today’s previous post). And since these are related and I don’t want to do two reposts today, I’m combining them for those with a lot of time on their hands.

Bear in mind, both of these posts are about six years old and haven’t been edited to reflect today’s new information or current controversies. I still think getting upset over an innocuous word that just happens to sound like a racial slur is counterproductive, but I am also not in the habit of using the word “niggardly”, for precisely the reason that most people can’t properly define it and could get offended. I just think if people do use it properly, they shouldn’t automatically be branded as racist.

Yesterday, I read the very sad story of Tim Torkildson, a social media specialist at an English language learning center in Provo, Utah.  Mr. Torkildson had a blog and wrote a post about homophones, a staple of every young American child’s early language instruction.  Homophones are words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  Meet and meat are homophones; so are so, sow, and sew.  Actually, when I learned about homophones, they were called homonyms.  But then I moved to another school and encountered the other term.

One would think homophones would be a completely innocuous thing to blog about, especially if one is teaching English to non-native English speakers.  Homophones can be pretty tricky for the uninitiated.  Unfortunately, Mr. Torkildson’s blog post didn’t sit well with his boss, Clarke Woodger, owner of the Nomen Global Language Center.  Mr. Woodger allegedly fired Mr. Torkildson because he fears the blog post will associate his school with “the gay agenda”.

That’s right.  A man who owns a language center tasked with teaching English as a foreign language is afraid to teach students about homophones…  apparently, because he is afraid his potential students will think his school teaches about homosexuals.  Woodger explained to the Salt Lake Tribune that his students come from 58 countries and many have only a basic understanding of English.  If that’s true, would they even necessarily know what the word “homosexual” or the shortened euphemism “homo” means?  

I posted about this on Facebook and remarked that it reminded me of the whole “niggardly” debate.  In 1999, David Howard, who was then working as an aide for Anthony Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C., used the word “niggardly” to describe how he would have to manage a fund’s tight budget.  The word “niggardly” means miserly or parsimonious.  It sounds a little like the infamous n-bomb, but is actually spelled differently and has absolutely no etymological relation to the word “nigger”.  Mr. Howard used the word properly and not in a racist way at all.  However, a couple of people he was working with were not familiar with the word, which has understandably fallen out of fashion.  Within ten days of using that word, David Howard was handing in his resignation to Mayor Williams, who hastily accepted it.

I remember being pretty disgusted when I heard about this situation, even though I know the word “niggardly” is not exactly a word one hears every day anymore.  I learned the word in a vocabulary lesson when I was in the 9th grade.  Moreover, even if I hadn’t, it seemed to me that a simple conversation about intent and a quick consultation with a dictionary would have cleared up the issue before it ever made the news.  Of course that didn’t happen, and it was a national case…  a very embarrassing national case, especially since the people involved were D.C. government officials who should have known better or at least conducted themselves in a more professional manner.

The controversial word properly defined. I don’t think it’s particularly wise to use it these days, but I do think people should know what it means so they won’t be offended unnecessarily.

I understand that David Howard’s choice to use the word “niggardly” instead of miserly, stingy, or parsimoniously was probably a mistake.  However, I think the bigger mistake was made by the people who ignorantly took him to task for saying something he didn’t actually say.

A very liberal and, I think, terminally guilty Facebook friend of mine took me to task for defending Howard.  He wrote:

“The word “niggardly”, which is archaic, doesn’t mean anything “miserly” doesn’t, so anyone doubling down on the use of it is actually trying to be an asshole. “Homophone” is the only word that means what it means – AND, it doesn’t resemble any offensive word, anyway.” 

Not knowing David Howard personally, I have a hard time discerning if he actually intended “to be an asshole” or just decided he wanted to use a 50 cent word to express himself.  I told my Facebook friend that it was his opinion that using that word makes someone an asshole.

He came back trying to school me with a Wikipedia article about the controversies surrounding the word “niggardly”…  It was an article I had already read, along with an excellent book by Randall Kennedy about the word “nigger”.  The incident regarding David Howard and the DC government was discussed at length in his book, Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.  Kennedy, by the way, is a black, left leaning Harvard law professor (or at least he was a professor when the book was published in 2002).  While I don’t use the n-word or even the word “niggardly” myself, I have to admit it was interesting to read about the history of the word.  I would recommend Kennedy’s book to anyone who wants an interesting language lesson.

In any case, while I respect my Facebook friend’s position about not offending people by using words they might not know or that may upset others, I also believe that people have a responsibility to educate themselves about their own language.  They also have a responsibility to stop and think before they react.  Anyone who reads this blog may already know that I am not a fan of “burying language”.  Offensive words that become taboo eventually get replaced by other words that end up needing to be made taboo.  Moreover, changing the language doesn’t necessarily change a painful condition.

I am a big fan of looking at intent, too.  You may hear someone use language that, taken at surface level, sounds offensive.  But I think it makes sense to think about what the communicator was trying to communicate before you react with offense.  As an English major in college, I read a lot of books by black writers.  The so-called n-word was rife in most of those books.  Should I have been offended?  I don’t think so… because that word served a legitimate purpose in what I was reading.  Do I think it’s smart to go around casually using controversial words that may offend people?  Generally not, though there are always exceptions to that rule.  An intelligent person looks at the situation objectively, though.  They don’t pressure a person to resign from a job over misunderstanding a word like “niggardly” and they don’t fire someone over teaching about homophones because they fear people might think they are promoting “the gay agenda” (not that I think that’s necessarily a bad thing to promote).

Of course I understand why people like my Facebook friend think it’s better to just not go there with words like “niggardly”.  It’s very easy to bury taboo words or symbols (or even words that sound like taboo words or symbols) and dismiss them as “offensive”.  It’s a lot more challenging to use your brain and determine the communicator’s intent and whether or not it’s worthwhile to be offended by their message.  I think it’s sad that more people aren’t more willing to use their brains instead of their emotions when they are expressing themselves.    

And here is the follow up post from a couple of days later in which I told the guy to “leave me alone”.

“Leave me alone…”

That’s what I ended up telling my Facebook friend yesterday, after our day long debate on whether or not it’s appropriate to use the word “niggardly”.  This guy, I’ll call him “B”, probably ought to be dropped from my friends list because, to be quite frank, I don’t really like him that much.

My disdain for B started many months before this latest incident.  I have never actually met him in person, but have had a number of online run ins with him.  We don’t tend to agree on a whole lot of issues.  He is much more liberal than I am.  That’s not the reason I don’t like him, though.  The reason I don’t like him is that he seems to think I’m stupid and treats me with condescension.

When I first “met” B on Epinions.com, we didn’t have that many issues.  Every once in awhile, he’d read one of my book or music reviews and leave a comment.  I remember he commented on a review I wrote about a book about military brats.  I was one and now I am married to a retired soldier, so I have also been a military wife.  For some reason, this guy seemed to think that was reason to pity me.  I remember the comment he made referenced how many times kids in military families have to move.   My experience as an Air Force brat didn’t include a lot of moving because my father retired when I was very young.  Moreover, when I was a kid, there were times I wished we would move.

Years after that, I started writing on a blog that he also writes on.  I noticed he would leave comments that on the surface seemed innocuous, but had a weird undercurrent of criticism to them.  It almost felt like he was upset that I was writing on the blog too.  I had been asked by the man who owns the blog to contribute to it, as obviously he was, too.  We have different tastes in music and different writing styles.  But I noticed at first, he would criticize my subject matter or make some comment about how I had written something.  I usually kept my few comments on his articles positive, though if I had wanted to, I probably could have been equally critical.  One time, he criticized me for writing about how to sing better online and the types of equipment you should use.  Then, many months later, he actually asked me for more information on the equipment I use when I make recordings.  Go figure.

I also noticed that a lot of times, I’d post an article and he’d post one too, within hours of my post.  He might not have written for weeks, but by God, he’d pick one of the two days when I almost always post and put new content ahead of mine.  I guess he figures that will mean more people will read his work, but based on what I’ve seen on Statcounter, it’s my articles that get more readings by people who aren’t personal friends or family members.

Because we were writing on that blog, we became Facebook friends.  And every once in awhile, I might post on a topic that he feels inclined to opine about.  That’s fine.  I want my friends to interact with me.  I don’t mind it when we disagree, either.  I just don’t like to be treated with disrespect, and that’s kinda how I felt like he was treating me.  Yesterday, he seemed bound and determined to school me on why my way of thinking is wrong.  It’s not that I didn’t understand him; I just plain disagreed with him.

He kept explaining why the word “niggardly” is rude and ought to be banned.  I kept explaining that “niggardly”, despite sounding like a racial slur, is a totally innocent word.  It honestly has absolutely no relation to the n-bomb.  It is spelled differently.  It has different etymological origins.  It’s actually a much older word that has been used a lot in literature.  And it just plain hasn’t a damn thing to do with the word “nigger”.  It just doesn’t!

Oddly enough, B kept writing that no one has been fired for using the word “niggardly”.  He was referring to my original comment that the post about the Utah homophone debacle reminded me of the “ridiculous niggardly debate” and that I wished people would check a dictionary before they resort to firing people for using words they don’t know.  Now, in B’s defense, I didn’t clearly specify that I was referring to the Utah homophone guy being fired and not David Howard, the D.C. mayor’s aide who was basically forced to resign over his use of the word in 1999.  But it was late; I was jet lagged; and frankly, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  I mean, obviously the guy teaching about homophones should not have been fired and it didn’t occur to me that someone on my friends list hated the word “niggardly” so much.

David Howard, unfortunate utterer of the word “niggardly”, also should not have lost his job, whether through firing or forced resignation (and he did eventually go back to work in a different mayoral office).  My position is that it’s hard to know how many people have been fired for using that word.  B’s is that there are apparently a bunch of right wing pundits out there who make it their business to write about such incidents.  But really, David Howard is hardly a right wing poster child.  He’s gay and worked for the D.C. government, a constituency that is over half black and consistently votes blue.    

B also brought up other examples of people who used the word “niggardly” and had offended people.  Several examples came from schools and universities.  I’m guessing he meant to sway me with those examples, but one of his examples included former University of Wisconsin English major Amelia Rideau, who became upset when her English professor used the word while discussing Chaucer.  She said it sounded too much like the racial slur.  The professor then explained the meaning and origin of the word.  B claimed the professor was doing his job “badly” because he offended his student.  He also brought up the fact that the professor was being paid for his work.  Ms. Rideau went so far as to try to get that word banned from the school, a measure that I find chilling in an academic environment, especially at a public university like the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  If you can’t have a free exchange of ideas without language restrictions in a university environment, where can you have one?  

My position is that Ms. Rideau was paying for an education and should have been open to actually being educated.  She does not get to dictate what words her teacher uses, so long as he’s not using abusive or derogatory language.  The word “niggardly”, despite sounding like a slur, simply isn’t a slur.  It’s neither abusive nor derogatory.  She needed to grow up and get over herself.  Moreover, as an English major, she should have realized that many works of literature include what may be construed as objectionable language.  Read anything by Mark Twain.  Read a slave narrative.  Read any book that tackles racism and you’ll run into truly derogatory language that actually serves a purpose.  Where would the study of literature be if every English major got upset over every encounter with hurtful or racist words?

The fact is, language changes all the time.  Most people don’t use the word “niggardly” casually anymore.  But hell, if you’re in an English class, particularly if it’s college level, where you might be reading literature that includes outdated words, I think you need to be grown up enough to accept that.    

Finally, toward the end of the day, B wrote:

We agree about the “homophone” teacher, firmly — I’ve said so three times. Now four. I’ve explained, as carefully as I could, why the situations are very different. Read it in a few days when you’re not jet-lagged. I’m bored with this too.

I was pretty exasperated by this point and found his final comment a bit insulting to my intelligence.  He basically implied that jet lag was clouding my sense of reason when actually, I just didn’t agree with him and his arguments weren’t swaying my opinion.  I also never saw any indication that he respected my right to disagree with him, while I took pains to explain that my opinions are my own and not represented as facts.  So here is my response:

Good. I’m glad you’re bored with this topic. I don’t think we have a miscommunication; I think we just disagree. Please quit commenting and leave me alone.

I’m sorry it had to end this way.  I really don’t like getting annoyed with people; but I also don’t like being browbeaten by self-righteous twits who refuse to acknowledge or respect a difference of opinion.  I don’t think I was unreasonable, nor am I fighting for the right to use the word “niggardly” in my own day to day conversations.  I just think people need to be more sensible and quit taking offense at every little quirk of the English language.  That’s why I don’t participate in campaigns to ban the “r word” or the “n word” or any other word.  Context and actual intent, people!  Let’s just focus on that instead of trying to eradicate words that may or may not hurt feelings.

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