Critique does not come easy for me. I try to be careful but truthful with my words. I don’t like to be rude. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I consider myself a moderate in many things. I prefer to look at both sides of an issue, as I know that circumstances can appear different to each of us. We all have experiences that color our perception of the world around us. I’m one of those who believes in “being nice to someone no matter what because you don’t know what they’ve been through.” When there is a bizarre statement trending on social media, I try to look it up before I pass judgment or share inaccurate or misleading information. I have voted for political candidates on both sides of the aisle, taking into consideration which person I feel is best for the job. That being said, when push comes to shove, I lean to the left. My reasons? That’s for another blog post-stay tuned.
Today let’s talk First Amendment, specifically regarding Freedom of Speech, Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee and Colin Kaepernick. I have never been a fan of Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee, and I have had a passionate dislike for reality television since its inception. I don’t care much for professional sports where the tickets are financially out of reach for the average family. In my opinion, both women are the type of comedian who does or say anything outrageous just for laughs. Reality stars are a peculiar bunch whose behavior is motivated less by real emotion than by the drive to affect the ratings and stand out from the rest by being dramatic or outlandish.
Samantha Bee’s statement about Ivanka Trump falls into the comedic arts category. I think there were other ways she could have addressed Ms. Trump’s apparent lack of empathy for the families separated at the border. The offensive word Samantha Bee used was not funny and did not advance her message, but the “wow factor” did get her media attention. Should she have been fired? I suppose some might argue that foul language and off-color remarks are acceptable as part of a comedy routine. In the general population, some people use swear words like others use punctuation marks. I have been known to unnecessarily spice up my language to make a point, but I am never in favor of anyone using disparaging statements to describe another person or to lash out at someone.
Roseanne Barr, also a comedian, woke up in the middle of the night, sent out a racist tweet and tried to backpedal by saying she was under the influence of prescribed medication. There is an old expression that says, “a drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.” Is that comparable to a woman on Ambien? I called out a colleague at work once for a scornful comment he made. He apologized saying that he said it without thinking; this admission on his part told me that derogatory thoughts were part of his belief system. Had he been thinking, he would have filtered his words. I don’t believe medication, alcohol or Bipolar Disorder makes a person racist. It is something taught early in life, and some people never learn anything else. Should Roseanne Barr have been fired? I’m sure she is not the only racist in Hollywood, but because she does not hold political office, she does not have the right to call people apes or fat or ugly or cowards or losers or sons-of-bitches. Ms. Barr doesn’t have the right to change the facts or make fun of disabled people or ethnic groups or even to say white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are made up of good people. Although she is a celebrity, she is not the President of the United States and does not have the same rights sanctioned by conservative groups that the President has. Instead, Roseanne Barr is an actor who worked for a family oriented business, and an angry racist is not kind of image Disney wants to be associated with their brand.
Since some in the media have linked Roseanne Barr, Samantha Bee, and Colin Kaepernick, in the same First Amendment debate, I will address it here as well. Colin Kaepernick, a young athlete of African-American descent, decided to use his position, his celebrity status if you will, to advocate for change in the justice system, specifically concerning racial profiling and use excessive force often leading to death. We teach our children that one person; one small act can make a difference. One NFL player “took a knee” to bring awareness to an ongoing problem in our country. He lost his job and was blacklisted from the sport.
According to a Snopes fact-check published September 28, 2017, former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, educated and advised Kaepernick and former teammate, Eric Reid to “take a knee” instead of sitting out the National Anthem in objection to current civil liberty violations. The three agreed this was more respectful, “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect…” Eric Reid is quoted as saying “We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.” The “take a knee” demonstration was a thoughtful form of silent protest. It is protesting social injustice, not the flag, not the military or the country or whatever other theories are out there in the media.
Divisive politics and fear-mongering have tried to skew the facts and turn the story around to question the integrity or validity of the complaint; to question the patriotism of protests in general. It is sad to me that the government has stepped in to coerce private companies to make employees behave in a way that is acceptable to the Administration’s agenda. The NFL’s new policy about the etiquette during the national anthem is an example of this. Last year it was indirectly suggested that perhaps the Administration should look into the tax breaks the NFL teams were getting since they were disrespectful to the flag and country. Why these teams need “tax breaks” is beyond me, but that’s a topic for another post. The point is the suggestive language worked.
According to Britanica.com “In the broadest sense, totalitarianism is characterized by strong central rule that attempts to control and direct all aspects of individual life through coercion and repression.” I find it upsetting to think this is happening in our country. People complained about political correctness, an idea that attempted to invoke fairness and open-mindedness but what I see now; is an agenda to make sure everyone is behaving and thinking in the same way. This plan is based on one group’s interpretation of Judeo-Christian traditions or the Constitution or whatever else they can use to manipulate the masses.
How does this change? It changes when everyone takes an interest in being well informed and challenging the ideas that limit our freedoms. It is disheartening to know that a significant number of people in this country stop at the headlines they see in social media. They don’t read entire articles nor do they cross-reference sources. That’s why it is easy for foreign powers to influence our politics or how we look at the world around us. It changes when citizens of this great nation stand-up and give a damn to research the candidates beyond the sound bites. It changes when well-informed citizens get out to vote.
Day Twelve: Critique a Piece of Work or Write an Opinion Piece #everydayinspiration