Thursday, January 10, 2008

On Racism Oversensitivity Overload...

Is it just me, or has our "culture of sensitivity" gotten completely out of hand? I know this is nothing new, but there are two great examples this week of how completely over the top it's become.

First Will Smith takes flack for his comments on Hitler and then today the golf announcer who joked about the only way to beat Tiger Woods was suspended. I would like to go on record as saying that I find absolutely nothing wrong with what either of these people said. But then again, I'm an adult who understands context and humor, which apparently there are less and less of each day.

Somehow it's racist to think critically about what went through Adolf's head, and to ponder if he thought he was doing the right thing? Somehow it's racist to joke about a close friend who is so good at what he does the only way to beat him is to make sure he doesn't play? Now, I understand, that the furor is much about the word "lynch" in the Tiger Woods case, but does anyone for a second think that that word was chosen for it's racial implications. I bet you most of our generation and beyond doesn't even realize that word has racial implications. Would she be in trouble if she said that the other players should put out a hit on him (or would this have incensed the Italian American population)? Add to this that Tiger (did I mention they are good friends) never took an ounce of offense to it before or after the apology, and shouldn't this be a non issue? Apparently not.

[Obligatory Racism is bad section] I understand that our culture still deals with the ramifications of years of racist thinking. I understand that as a white guy it's impossible for me to really grasp the damage of this kind of thinking. The ideas that somehow worth, value, or dignity is based, even in the slightest, on pigmentation are reprehensible and honestly foreign to me. But can't we just stop and think clearly about context for just a second?!

I'm not immune to it either. I posted on the finale of Survivor last May that I was surprised that no one caught a racial insensitivity at the final tribal council (comments at the end of the post). And truthfully I still think that example trumps either of the things that happened this week, yet I have to admit even I fall prey to over analyzing the intent on these kinds of things.

I'll let Penn Jillette have the last word on this in one of his first in a series of "Penn Says" videos he has started doing. I have a love hate relationship with the man (he's a staunch atheist with a foul tongue) but so many times he nails it. This video is clean but beware bad words if you watch some of his other rants. Here's Penn on yet another example of racial oversensitivity.

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