If you need further evidence that political correctness has run past the amok stage, just look at the whirlwind surrounding shock jock Don Imus for wondering out loud if members of the Rutgers women's basketball team look like "nappy-headed hos."
You would think that someone was murdered in cold blood. I mean, everyone on the left and right is going absolutely bonkers! This is insane in this writer's view. The media coverage is completely out of control. You would also think shock jock Don Imus actually kidnaped the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team and locked them into the studio with him for hours where he demanded they call themselves "nappy-headed hos" on the air for millions to hear.
Now, that would be insensitive. And shocking.
What's going on in the present situation points to how pathetically weak we have all become. We view words in the form of attempted humor, or flat out shock, as weapons of mass destruction. We view ourselves as perpetual social sponges so that when we hear something that we don't agree with or is not true, it sinks deep into our bones. Will the coach and members of the Rutgers women's basketball team wind up in therapy over this? Or file a civil action against someone, who again, is a shock jock? I happen to think everyone is going to be fine.
I'm just waiting for attorney Gloria Allred to jump into the fray. Which reminds me, whatever happened to Michael Richards? Is he in solitary confinment somewhere in Jesse Jackson's basement? I have not heard whether he was forced at gun point to hand over cash to the "hecklers" he answered back at the Laugh Factory. I wonder if Gloria Allred got a cut of the action. Or if the hecklers will come out with a book and wind up on Oprah.
Speaking of Oprah, she had the whole Rutgers women's basketball team on television for millions and millions of viewers to learn of their "ordeal." Here's what I don't understand. If you hear something that you deem offensive and wrong, why do you continue to carry on and on and on about it? It's like when you go to the doctor and you tell him that when you touch your neck a certain way it hurts. The doctor tells you to simply not touch your neck the way you have been touching it, and the pain should go away. So, on your way out of the doctor's office, what do you do? You touch your neck again! Feeling hurt can be extremely subjective and blown out of proportion.
My point here is that there is something very contradictory about all the media attention that is generated over what entertainers say. That is, certain entertainers. Some people on the left can say anything they want and it is always deemed humorous, or just their opinion, or what's the big deal about black people calling each other the n word. Folks like Snoop Dog, Rosie O'Donnell and Bill Maher get a pass. I'm dissapointed with folks on the right who are making sure they say that what Don Imus said was outrageous and despicable, right before they go on to properly analyze what's going on. The thought police are just getting started with ousting Don Imus. This is war. What side will you choose?
Meanwhile, there is no doubt we are living in 1984. The thought police are everywhere. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would have absolutely nothing to do with their race baiting lives if white people on the air or in a comedy club did not "slip up." God knows, it's not enough to apologize over and over and over again. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are the last two people on the face of the Earth who should be high ranking members of the thought police. Again, they would be unemployed and homeless if white people were not on the air or on a comedy club stage. The two of them have their pictures in every dictionary under the word - hypocrite. Not to mention - parasite. After all, they sure as heck are not producers of anything of any value in the free market.
When I think about the fact that you cannot get up in the morning and turn on the news without hearing that the world is about to end yet again because of what someone said using words, I am reminded that the phrase "Deadbeat Dad" is a far more long-lasting offensive slur than anything Don Imus or Michael Richards said - or could say. The phrase "Deadbeat Dad" has been around for years and years, and is in fact now a permanent part of our popular culture. Imagine being called a "Deadbeat Dad" by everyone you know in your life just because you cannot keep up with a confiscatory child support order. What do you think that feels like?
I seriously doubt that even if you know you are not really a "Deadbeat Dad", you won't wind up on Orpah, or be called a victim, or have the people who call you that and the people who created this country's destructive child support system - fired from their jobs or worse. It's more likely that you will be told to suck it up, stop whining, get a fourth job, and get used to living with your parents.
However, if you have been granted eternal victim status by today's thought police, then things will always stay the same. You can always cash in. You'll always be a victim because entertainers are not put in jail for having offended you. I'm sorry, we don't put entertainers in prison whose words cause you to feel offended or insulted or allow you to make an appearance on Oprah or the Today Show - yet. I repeat, yet.
I'm pretty sure the coach and every member of the Rutgers women's basketball team are going to get through this alleged "crisis." They are stong and talented no matter what anybody says. I'm still wondering what happened to Michael Richards and his hecklers. And I'm still wondering how we allowed a phrase like "Deadbeat Dad" to become a permanent part of our popular culture.
In the end, there is no constitutional "right" - not to be offended. That is, unless you want it to always feel like 1984.
Tony Zizza is a freelance writer who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He writes frequently about popular culture.