Wednesday, April 28, 2010
previous condition (or: the deal-with-it dog meets the worthwhile cause)
"Chill out, dude, it's just _______."
Yes, there are many points in discourse (in its many forms) where we start to take ourselves too seriously and have to step back and re-evaluate our positions, choose to step away from an argument, rephrase our words or let something go, particularly in light of the general absurdity of the world we live in. That's only reasonable.
However, there's still a lot that is meaningful and real - even in said absurd landscape - that's worth fighting for. There are convictions we hold that are important, and speaking up when relevant is our responsibility.
The "chill out, dude, it's just _____" tactic is one I've encountered again and again when I speak up for myself or for values that I believe are important (and one I've seen employed against countless others when they do the same), and it's always used by the person who has created the situation that is being spoken out against - that is, the person in the position of power, the person that represents the status quo. It's a specific tactic that is used to minimize the worth of the arguments against, and I've seen it in every aspect of my life (from negotiations at work to conversations with punk kids). It dovetails nicely with institutionalized sexism/racism/homophobia, which already sees the othered group as less-than.
"Can't you take a JOKE?"
"What are you, the PC police?"
To be offended by something we have to be humorless and uptight in this worldview (rather than ... reasonably offended by something which is offensive). Hysterical women! Angry black people! Those gays, running their mouths again! What's always fascinated me is people who create provocative art that obviously pushes classic taboo buttons getting bent out of shape when they're called on ... doing exactly what their art sets out to do.
(Newsflash: the "PC police" don't exist, and I am all for free speech. However, that also means that if you are free to say something that I find offensive, I am free to speak my opinion on said statement. In other words, the tail of the deal-with-it-dog wags both ways.)