Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Thin-Skinned Need to Grow UP

Pat Condell skewers the easily offended, using as his example an Irish fellow who won a settlement because his feelings were hurt…by a joke:

The is one of the many unintended consequences of the multi-culti dogma which the preachers of eternal tolerance have foisted off on us.

There’s a link at the video to The Spectator, and the original story, a plaintive essay by Douglas Murray. In “Why Can’t Anyone Take a Joke Anymore?” he recounts the horrors in his sad tale of intimidation by ankle-biters who made his life miserable for months. All because he was flip about that stupid Irish ‘joke’. Even the Irish Embassy got involved.

He says:
- - - - - - - - -
More and more special-interest groups are demanding more and more acquiescence or silence in relation to their agendas. And as a result there are now certain subjects which you are simply better off not writing about. Anything to do with race, religion or sexuality you’re better off out of. What carries the day is the extent to which someone can claim to have had their feelings upset. When it happens to you, you finally realise why so many journalists spend their lives taking celebrities seriously. It’s easier, and people who love the limelight are less likely to complain.

I can see his point, and that of Mr. Condell. The key here is “more and more interest groups”…they breed faster than flies from maggots, these “special interest groups”. They wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the EU’s bureaucratic mechanisms for punishing hate speech. We don’t have that here yet, and as a counterbalance, we still have remnants of a robust, ornery Anglo Saxon impatience with flapdoodles like this.

Sure, the press can spend lots of time making itself ever more irrelevant over such dust-ups, but do average Americans take them seriously? Look at the balance sheets for these news outlets; their bottom lines tell the tale.

Andrew Klavan, in a recent City Journal essay, took a quick look at the subject as it pertains to Islamophobes (that’s you and me, kid):

One of the cleverest tricks of the cultural Left is demonizing perfectly reasonable actions and opinions by giving them sinister names. It is the logical go-to technique for those whose ideas have failed in every practical application but who nonetheless still dominate the media by which ideas are spread.

A favorite example of mine is the old feminist declaration that men “objectify” women when they respond to female beauty as nature decrees. This particular reframing was not successful over the long term for the same reason that health scares involving coffee have never caught on: no one was willing to give up the stimulant…

Fortunately, that one is slowly dying out everywhere but in the academic ghettoes like Harvard. Yes, for the elites it is a pressure point, but not for real people. Does “sexism” exist? Sure. And it cuts both ways.

Klavan points to the latest absurdity as it concerns objections to the Ground Zero Mosque (only he called it, in quotes, a triumphalist “Muslim Cultural Center”):

Rather than engage in serious debate with the vast majority of New Yorkers and Americans who oppose the project, the mosque’s defenders have simply dubbed the opposing viewpoint “Islamophobia.” As ever when this naming device is used, the left-wing media seem to rally as one. Within the space of a single week, Time put the word on its cover, Maureen Dowd accused the entire nation of it in her column, and CBS News trotted out the charge in reporting on mosque opposition.

For anyone born with the gift of laughter, the term is absurd to the point of hilarity. A phobia, after all, is an irrational fear. Given that Islam is cancerous with violence in virtually every corner of the globe, given the oppressive and exclusionary nature of many Islamic governments, given the insidious Islamist inroads against long-held freedoms in western Europe, and given those aspects of sharia that seem, to an outsider at least, to prohibit democracy, free speech, and the fair treatment of the female half of our species, those who love peace and liberty would, in fact, be irrational not to harbor at least a measure of concern.

What Mr. Klavan doesn’t realize is that much of the little corner of the blogosphere that concerns itself with Islam’s “exclusionary nature” long ago appropriated the label “Islamophobe” (and proud of it) for our own.

The media are not creative; they heard the word and thought it meant something, not understanding that it was an inside joke. So they grabbed it as a handy weapon. Too bad for them it’s a rubber sword.

The same thing has been happening across the conservative groupings as they incorporate the word “Racist” into their persona, turning it into an Elmer Fuddian “Waaycist!”. The Left used it too often and too loosely for the word to have much punch anymore. Now it works as a scary label only within the realms of the Left; they have no idea that most everyone else quit worrying about it. Bigots abound, and they always have. In fact, some of the most reactive bigots going can be found within the ranks of the Left, which may be why they have to do so much heavy lifting and projecting? Ah, so many groups for them to look down on, so little time in which to condescend.

Mr. Murray says he found a disturbing phenomenon, and it’s one that you can see on college campuses here:

But there was also a presumption - and the younger the interviewer the more prevalent it was - that there must be, there had to be, something in place in society that stopped people having to face the risk of having their feelings insulted. Particularly if it had something - anything - to do with their ethnic heritage, religion or sexuality.

Perhaps that perverted idealism - perverted, that is, by the multi-culti dogma young people are fed by their government schools - is outgrown eventually. At least if you leave the environs of academia, government, etc., and live in the real world.

Murray says:

My own reaction to this is fairly robust. Being offended, and learning to deal with it, is part of being a grown-up in a grown-up society. I get offended every time I walk down the street. I’m offended by very fat people, I’m offended by flashy people. I’m offended by Channel 4 News. Most of all I’m offended by super-sensitive people who think that they’re the only ones in the world with feelings. Yet I don’t try to get any of these things banned because I know that it’s not the state’s job to punish people just because they annoy me.

An increasing number of us appear to think differently. I suppose we should have seen this coming. After all, if government is meant to provide everything else in your life, why shouldn’t it be expected to police your feelings as well? It is a logical end-point of the welfare state. But it signals the breakdown of normal working society.

Indeed. That is why we will instinctively fight off the nanny state as long as possible, even if it makes life insecure, or puts “security” below the freedom to talk out loud.

Here at Gates of Vienna, we remember well the feel of that Leftist boot for our purported Waaycism. Most of you know the story, but for newer readers (those who wandered in after the Spring of 2008) the incident is here. Being kicked out of the fold wasn’t pleasant, but it sure was freeing. Without that experience we wouldn’t be have developed the network which exists now, and we’d never have known the abiding generosity of our donors. After two-and-a-half years, I am still awed by such openhanded giving.

Hat tip: Zenster


Zenster said...


Oh, crikey. You know damn well the Chihuahua, Daschund, Pomeranian and Corgi set will be after the lot of us for that little tarsal quip.

For that matter; What's the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral?

One less drunk.

Fer sure the Politically Correct mob are after us now.
Even if it was only because I left "Irish Wolfhound" out of the previous set of canine candidates.

To ensure that no Irish person is left un-insulted here's another bit of fun:

An Irishman is seated at a fine Continental restaurant:

Waiter: Good evening Sir, would you like a before dinner drink?

Irishman: I think I'll have whiskey.

Waiter: Very well, perhaps you would like to order an appetizer?

Irishman:I think I'll have … whiskey.

Waiter: And may I suggest a salad?

Irishman: I think I'll have … whiskey.

Waiter: What about your side dish?

Irishman: I think I'll have … whiskey.

Waiter: And your palate cleanser?

Irishman: I think I'll have … whiskey.

Waiter: What about your main course?

Irishman: I think I'll have … whiskey.

Waiter: And your side dish?

Irishman: I think I'll have … er … whiskey.

Waiter: What about for afters?

Irishman: I think I'll have … whiskey.

Waiter: And would you like to have some whiskey with your meal?

Irishman: Oh no! I'll have a bottle of wine!

Dymphna said...

Sheesh, Zenster--

That's on a level with the dumb one you found on Pat Condell (thank you, btw).

Ethnic Jokes will always be with us, d.g. The best ones are the half-breeds, like the following:

What is a four-course dinner for a black Irishman?

A potato and a six-pack of beer followed by fried chicken and watermelon.

[That joke depends on the listener getting the back joke -- i.e., the "black Irish" refers to a strain of Spanish or gypsy DNA in Eire which stands out against all those Gaels and Nords.

For example my mother had slightly olive skin, very dark hair, grey eyes, and an aquiline nose. In her youth she was tall and thin - you'd have sworn she was Spanish. Her siblings teased her about being left by the gypsies since she didn't resemble most of them]

IOW, that joke is only funny if you understand what "black Irish" means.

I wonder if O'Bama is black Irish?


Here's one of my favorite half-breeds. This is from the very early Dick Gregory. Back when he was funny:

Q: What do you get when you eat Chinese and German food?

A: An hour later, you're hungry for power.


Some local color: in Virginia, there is a move toward getting the state government out of the liquor business. The ABC stores (Alcohol Beverage Commission) in our state do a state-like job of it and our governor ran on a platform of privatizing these stores. The usual suspects are complaining.

At any rate, it has revived a few old Va jokes about booze and religion. Here's one all Virginians understand:

What's the difference between a Baptist and a Methodist? The Methodist will tell you "howdy" when he sees you in the liquor store.

And another, for the Episcopalians (back in the beginning of Virginia, the now-Epsicopalian Church was the Church of Virginia. Yep, we were a theocracy):

For every four Episcopalians, you're sure to find a fifth...


Anybody have a Russian joke?

Zenster said...

Dymphna: Anybody have a Russian joke?

I never miss a chance to trot out my favorite Soviet-era chestnuts. These were known as "satellite humor" because they originated in Warsaw Bloc nations and targeted the Moscow elite or the travails they routinely inflicted upon everyone else.


Ronald Reagan is in Moscow to meet with Leonid Brezhnev. As he walks into Brezhnev’s office a young man in white overalls carrying a small toolbox brushes past him on his way out. Reagan enters to find Leonid furiously scribbling down notes while talking into the telephone.

And what a telephone it is! Plugged into it is a forest of ribbon wire, BNC connections, D-Sub connectors, CAT5E cables, RJ-11 jacks, USB ports, fiber optic light pipes, coaxial cables, dipole antenna leads, three phase power inputs and RF shielded conductors of every sort.

When Reagan tries to get Brezhnev’s attention, Leonid holds up a hand and says, “I just got this fantastic new telephone installed that lets me talk with Marx, Lenin and Stalin. I’ll only be a few more minutes.” Reagan nods silently then tells Leonid that he is going to wash his hands and will be right back.

Reagan dashes out of Brezhnev’s office and catches up with the young man in overalls just before he steps into an elevator. Reagan asks the guy how much it costs Leonid to operate that new telephone. The installer replies, “Oh, about twenty dollars a month.” Regan tells the young man, “I’ll pay you a thousand dollars to install one like it in my Oval Office at the White House!”

The installer agrees and is flown directly to Washington D.C. on Air Force One so he can hook up the special telephone. Reagan pays off the installer and is so happy that his ears are clapping. He spends hour after hour calling Marx, Lenin and Stalin to hear how the Soviet Union was supposed to operate right down to its military strategies.

When the month ends, Reagan gets his telephone bill and is astounded to see that it’s for over ten thousand dollars in new charges. Reagan is outraged and flies to Moscow in order to confront the installer about misrepresenting how much it costs to operate his telephone. He tells him, “Look at this phone bill, it’s for ten thousand dollars! You said Brezhnev only pays twenty bucks a month. I demand an explanation!”

The installer looks at Reagan for a long time and finally says, “You don’t get it do you?” Reagan says, “What do you mean?” The young man replies, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin … they’re all dead and rotting in eternal hell.” Reagan says, “So, what about it?”

The installer replies, “You’re long distance. Moscow gets the local rates.”

Sean O'Brian said...

Here is an Obama/Irish joke I overheard in a shop. The placenames are of townlands on the Northside of Dublin.

Three lads were stopped by a guard (i.e. policeman) in Raheny wearing Ku Klux Klan robes.

"Where are you lads going dressed like that?" the guard asked them.

"To Kilbarrack."