Thursday, January 22, 2004

Go Seahawks, in the Sense of Motion

Since I started reeling off my pet peeves last time, I've discovered it's addictive. Soon I'll be the old man in the communal room at the rest home cursing everyone. The cursing will release endorphins. These will allow me to get by on less debilitating pain medication than my sweetness-and-light fellow residents. Therefore I will outlive their sorry asses.

Why isn't football over? Didn't the last game of every season used to be played on New Years Day? Or am I being confused by the slowing of the Earth's revolution and the introduction of the Gregorian calendar? Doesn't anybody else remember how, when the last game was played, the players on the winning team all had their hearts cut out and offered to the gods and the rest of us got to enjoy a little closure?

Which reminds me of this huge peeve category: People who feel that if I don't share their sentiments then I'm somehow invalidating them. OK, I don't support the Seahawks in any sense of the word "support." But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with other people supporting them. In fact I make it easier for the rest of you to get tickets to the games, because I'm not there taking up a seat.

Other sentiments that I have been at one time or another perceived as "invalidating": somebody's love of Jesus, someone's feeling that all sex is ultimately rape, a love of textile technology and fabric science, a love of scattering matrices, appreciation for long hair, short hair, ancient Sparta, and the Rolling Stones.

It's only a short step from "If you don't like the Rolling Stones I'm going punch you in the nose" to the position of political correctness that says "If you aren't sensitive to my feelings of victimization I'm going to use my political clout to silence you."

I hate all varieties of political correctness, including all the favorite forms of left-wing PCness. You know how, for example, it's considered so foul to use the N-word by some people that Mark Twain, a dead white writer, is believed to have no right to use it even in a book attacking slavery, and that such books should be banned from libraries. For other examples of left-wing PCness that I hate, all of them, see countless columns by John Leo.

But here's a pet peeve: There's right-wing political correctness too! And Leo and friends like it! And it's on the rise!

There's the Israeli ambassador who vandalized a work of art in Sweden because he perceived it as offensive to victims of a Palestinian suicide-bomber. He called the piece an "abomination." Ariel Sharon backed the ambassador's action and praised him. It recalled another famous time a nation's leader was praising the destruction of artistic abominations, back in the 1930s.

Oops! Look at the bad I just did! I made a comparison between Sharon and Hitler! Oh no, now I may have trivialized the Holocaust! I am now as bad as for posting ads comparing Bush to Hitler! I must be chastised by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Republican National Committee for my own good, then I must apologize profusely, withdraw my comments, and then… well there is no then because I'm sure none of that would satisfy them.

Here's the deal: Hitler didn't leap into power in 1933 and instantly kill 6 million Jews. First he had to get laws passed that weakened legal protections. Then he had to exploit the backlash against that move so he could win support for more drastic measures. Then he had to develop a secret apparatus to carry out those measures with as little resistance as possible. The Holocaust took time and preparation.

I'm sorry, but I can't help but notice that Bush HAS taken Hitler's baby steps. That's just how a lot of people see the matter. It doesn't trivialize the Holocaust to harbor fears that we have smoothed the way for another one. It also doesn't help political discussions any to try to silence people when they express their fears openly. It's PC-mongering at its worst.

Thursday, January 8, 2004

The Kiwi Is Surprisingly Stylish, Itself

Before I get started I want to make an announcement from the News You Can Refuse Department. On January 20th at 11pm RCTV is scheduled to have its first airing on community access television. That's RC as in Real Change, but it will be created, produced and hosted independently of Real Change by Steve Schrock.

Now, a couple of days ago Steve came by the office and taped interviews with yours truly and fellow editor Anitra "On Whose Kitchen Floor I Have Sometimes Slept" Freeman. I'm afraid those interviews may form the basis of the first show, even though I might have let slip some things about my sordid love affair[s] or what I may have initially thought of Timothy "Our Glorious Founder" Harris, and even though Anitra may have discussed whether I have ever been infested with invisible insects.

So what I'm saying is, this is News You Can Refuse. If you get the community access channel, you don't HAVE to watch RCTV that night. No, you can watch the Daily Show on Comedy Central instead, in spite of the fact that they rerun it the next day at 7 and it wouldn't hurt you to watch Jon Stewart a day late for once. Or you could watch, say, News at Eleven on Eleven 'cause you were too busy watching Whose Line reruns to see News at Ten on Thirteen, but you still have to get your news fix. Hey, nobody's holding a gun to your head, you know? Sheesh.

Speaking of me getting started, in our last column I ranted a bit. I know that ranting isn't pretty, so I thought I'd get ahead of the game and warn people what sorts of things start me up. In other words, let's talk about MY pet peeves!

1. People who just discovered Mars. "Mars is sooo interesting! Did you know that Mars was closer last year than it ever was in 60,000 years? Isn't that AWESOME? Don't you want to go look at it right now?" No, I want to chew beef jerky in front of a space heater. Go away for another 60,000 years.

2. Repetition. For example, her/his very clever joke at my expense was hilarious the first time I heard it and mildly amusing the next 20 times but after the 100th time she/he could be replaced with a neurotic self-abusive parrot and the world would be a far better place.

3. DSHS caseworkers. What are these people paid for? They don't know anything. They don't have any evident education into the challenges that their clients face. They don't even know how DSHS works. If you want to know a rule and ask three different caseworkers about it, you'll get three different answers. Paris Hilton knows more about poverty than these people.

4. Overused rhetorical devices. "Can you tell me what a rhetorical question is?" Well, I know that choking can prevent them.

5. Script speakers. These are people we have all known that compose and rehearse the conversations they will have with us, expecting us to follow their scripts even though we haven't seen them and don't care anyway. No matter what people like this say, I like to turn the subject to flightless birds or traditional oceanic art, or both. "I had a great time this weekend." "Maori depictions of Kiwi were rather stylized." "Don't you want to know what I did this weekend?" "The small repeated triangle is seen most often in Micronesia." "Aren't you listening to me? I thought you would ask about my weekend." "Emus?"

6. Pedestrian tailgaters. You get on a bus and someone gets on right behind you. Not only do they follow too close, but apparently they think your plan is to walk all the way to the end of the bus and walk out the imaginary back door at the very end, because when you stop to sit in a vacant seat it comes as a total shock to them and they run into you.

7. Weapons of mass destruction and the people who create and use them. Regarding weapons of limited destruction, many earnest people have told me that those have military uses, and that's a qualified Good in the Face of Evil. But weapons of mass destruction target civilians, including innocent children, an unqualified Bad. So people shouldn’t have them. Hello? That means us.