Thursday, April 21, 2016

Don’t Forget, we’re supposed to be Free and Brave

I had a conversation a short time back with my mom. It went something like this:

"My hair is a mess so I’m wearing a hat to the game, I just hate taking it off for the Star Spangled Banner."

"But they say: gentlemen remove your caps, so you don’t have to because you’re a lady."

"I always take mine off. Why wouldn’t I? Just because I’m a girl I don’t think that should allow exemption."

She replied with a thoughtful, “huh, interesting point” and that’s where the conversation ended. But I was still wondering about the significance for a couple weeks so I started looking into the issue. Turns out, I can’t seem to find a concrete answer as to why we take off hats during the anthem other than it allegedly signifies respect.

But I can’t seem to uncover who, whom, what we are all respecting by letting the world around us see our hat head. Soldiers who died for freedom? The flag itself? The singer of the anthem? Winning a war?

I’ve never really questioned why I sing the words, why I take my hat off, and perhaps that’s a good segue into where this whole conversation of country, people, and respect is going.

Is it perpetuating a double standard for gentlemen to remove hats but not ladies? I’m a lady at the same sporting event. I’m singing along with the national anthem too. If I’m wearing a hat I don’t think it matters if I have a penis or not, out of respect – like I was taught as a kid – I’m taking it off.

And that’s the crux of what I want to talk about today. Double standards.

I’ve been mostly quiet on the whole NC bill that made it almost scary to be anything other than what those lawmakers want people to be. Which I believe is nothing more than “figured out” and has everything to do with fear, and nothing to do with getting to know who those people are.

But I’ll get back to that.

What I want to discuss is this whole Curt Schilling debacle. Before I go any further, I need you to understand that I fully support the communities which were negatively impacted by what the man wrote on social media. I also have a certain level of respect for Curt because of what he did in Boston in 2004 and beyond.

I would also like to point out that, in response to all of this, there are about a million people out there saying things like:

“Grow up, stop being offended by everything, we didn’t used to have these problems…”

And to those people I say, that is the problem. Because the reason we didn’t have these “problems” in the past can be summed up in a few facts:

  • Many people who were outside the “normal” way people “should” be, were afraid to be themselves for fear of persecution or in some cases, even death.
  • Submission was the key element we were all taught – children are seen and not heard, do as I say not as I do, loose lips sink ships – and then some.
  • A grown adult tries to be who they know they are and then is told they’re not allowed to do that, no matter what the reasoning, if you aren’t offended by that kind of oppression then you’re part of the problem.

And probably a charlatan because I guarantee when it comes to your own crap you’ll be the first to yell and scream that you don’t get to do/say/be what you want.

Just like every human being. Welcome to your wake up call, we’re all oppressed by something. Take a number and get in line.

Consider this: I’m a pretty embracing person. I don’t care who/what you are just don’t be a jackhole and we’re probably cool. Maybe not BFFs or anything, but cool. But I shake my head when I remember that back when I was a kid we ran around using words like queer, gay, retarded, as insults. And why? What do those labels really tell us about a person? That they’re “different” than we are? Why does different constitute insult?

If we don’t pay closer attention to our freedom of speech we’re likely going to offend someone.

Because the entertainment industry is a good place to take a stand, a lot of those people are swinging so far in the other direction to show how “tolerant” they are that nobody is considering how both sides are coping. I think there has to be some kind of line.

I don’t agree with what Schilling posted. I think it skates down the razor blade of intolerance and ignorance. But who are the rest of us to tell him he isn’t free or brave for speaking his mind? A right afforded to everyone in this country.


Because that’s my point – does it matter who faces the wrath of intolerance? Because while we’re all busy lashing out at Curt for something he chose to publish in a public forum we’re missing the part where we’re all just as bad as he is for yelling at him for doing it.

Because, isn’t that backlash against the man nothing more than, well, intolerance, too? Intolerance of his potential ignorance?

What makes it any better when we persecute one person because of what they said about a specific group of people?

Consider this: we’d yell at someone for leaving a hat on during the national anthem but then start cheering and clapping in the middle of the song. Everyone thinks their way is right. The internet gives all of us a platform to say whatever we want (hell, I’m doing it right now).

Curt Schilling allegedly did what he did in response to the NC HB2 law that was recently passed (for a brief explanation read this article, for the full text go here). The meme he shared and comments attached were too much for ESPN to bear. He was promptly fired.

And he did share something truly awful (in my opinion) but, let’s be honest, ESPN knew exactly who the guy was before they hired him. It isn’t like this is his first offense on social media. Google his name and any or all of the words – evolution, buttclown, nazi.

But, yeah, this is the one that gets him fired.

Why is it okay in today’s society to all but light a flamethrower on one person who perhaps makes a mistake in his wording (or not) but his freedom of speech is somehow supposed to be limited for the sake of the general public because he works, essentially, as an entertainment reporter?

How else is a conversation supposed to begin? How else can a person learn to tolerate if they’re told they need to be perfect from the start, that if they make any mistake at all they’ll lose their job?

Nobody is perfect but we sure do expect a lot more from our public figures don’t we? And we have zero tolerance when they fuck something up. So instead of helping someone learn the benefits of tolerance we treat the person like they need to be voted off the island.

We’re a bunch of hypocrites.

Schilling is a public figure. So is ESPN. So are all the transgendered people who spend their days and nights trying to live how they feel they were meant to live. Nobody should bring discomfort on purpose. But then again, my question is this:

Who wins?

If we’re not allowed to speak our mind anymore (no matter how reprehensible some people might perceive the words coming out of it) then who really wins? Isn’t it the freedom of speech that makes this country a terrific place to live?

I mean, I don’t agree with what the guy posted but I also don’t agree that he should have been fired for what he said. ESPN missed a glorious opportunity for inclusion and a lesson in tolerance with this one.

Because, suppose for a moment the internet goes into full-on tizzy over his post, but, instead of firing him ESPN uses the moment as an opportunity for teaching. Teaching Curt as well as their television viewing audience that it’s okay to be who you are no matter what profession you work in or state you live in.

Get an openly gay player in the studio. Male. Female. Both. Talk to a team full of transgendered people (I’m sure they’re out there somewhere).

Bring awareness. Celebrate differences. Teach. Learn.

Division of people is what’s gotten us into this mess to begin with. It’s time to embrace, not disgrace.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

1 comment:

Launna said...

Jenn, this is honest... I agree, we all have our right to have an opinion... I'm of a mind that people can live their lives the way they want... as long as they are not hurting others... it isn't my business xox