Don’t Do That

Man in Doctor’s office: It hurts when I do this. (Moves arm up and down)

Doctor: Don’t do that.

Neil Degrasse Tyson just can't handle the stupid.

Neil Degrasse Tyson just can’t handle the stupid.

It wouldn’t be a day ending in “Y” without someone, somewhere, publishing something stupid and offensive on social media.

A quote posted this week by a School District U46 board member on her Facebook page has elicited outrage and accusations of racial insensitivity among some community members in Illinois’ second-largest school district.

Some community members said they planned to bring the issue up Monday night at the school board meeting.

The Feb. 1 post on board member Jeanette Ward’s official U46 school board page contains a quote from a book by African-American author Jason L. Riley.

It contends that problems facing poor blacks today are a function of “values and habits, not oppression from a manifestly unjust society.”

Ward is white and wrote that she was posting the excerpt “in honor of Black History Month.”

“The notion that racism is holding back blacks as a group, or that better black outcomes cannot be expected until racism has been vanquished, is a dodge,” reads the passage from Riley’s book, “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder For Blacks to Succeed.”

“Having a black man in the Oval Office,” the passage states, “is less important than having one in the home.”

–snip–

“I think it’s unfair that I’m not allowed to quote an African-American who had something to say about history and African-Americans,” Ward said. “People try to point to me as if I made the quote. I am merely quoting someone who has a unique perspective.”

Ward said she expected that the post might prompt some pushback but that she was “a little surprised about the vitriol.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I see this sentiment a lot: Why can’t I just speak my mind without someone getting offended? Political correctness inhibits my freedom of speech! It gets more than a little tiring after a while, all these poor put-upon white folks who just want to speak their mind or offer their opinion. They have that right! All this political correctness stuff is so unfair.

No one anywhere is interfering with anyone’s First Amendment right to say whatever they wish to say. I’ll be the first person to defend anyone’s right to say anything they wish, should those rights actually be interfered with. On the other hand, “pushback” and “vitriol” should be expected when writing something or quoting something controversial. That isn’t unfair. It’s just the First Amendment at work!

So this woman believes it unfair that, rather than use her own words, if she quotes an African-American author on the moral status of African-Americans she should be immune from accusations of racial insensitivity (at the very least). She just wanted to offer a different perspective! These aren’t her words! It’s in honor of Black History Month!

Like we say around our house, when you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging. Toss that shovel out. In this case, it might well mean stop whining about how mean everyone’s being, and consider that perhaps – just perhaps! – their views are legitimate. Does that mean you, or the person you’re quoting (behind whom you’re hiding?), doesn’t also have some legitimacy? Of course not. What it does mean, however, is that grownups take responsibility for their actions: If you say or write something others find offensive, own that; consider how your words might have hurt others. Stop hiding behind “It’s unfair!” because, really, life is unfair.

Just because people take offense at things others say and do is not any abridgment of free speech. Not a single individual is prevented for writing or saying anything in this country. What the whiners about political correctness miss is really simple: They don’t get to a pass anymore. Saying something offensive will draw a reaction. Telling people to stop being offended is, as the author quoted by Ms. Ward wrote, “a dodge”. It is perfectly fair that she has the opportunity to post something on social media and others will speak out either against it or in favor of it. That is the very definition of fairness.

On the other hand, if she doesn’t like people telling her the thing she published – hiding behind an African-American author; doing so “in honor of Black History Month” – is offensive and racially insensitive, my advice to her (not that she asked . . .) is the same as that doctor’s quoted above: Don’t write and publish it.

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Comments are welcome, as long as they apply to issues rather than individuals. Don't make me break out the Benevolent Banhammer Of Love

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