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January 01, 2004

get over yourself   (opinion)

Let me set the stage for you. A white humor columnist named Brent Batten in decides to do a piece on a local rap concert that didn't happen because there was too much security. He decides further that he will tell this story using a style of writing directly derived from hip hop artists and culture. It is decidedly hilarious (you can read it here).

Of course, the anti-defamation crowd, and other easily offended people with no sense of humor got wind of this (ooh, scary hand gestures implying mock seriousness) grave injustice and decided to up the ante a bit and call Batten a racist.

Normally, this is where I would inject my hot beef opinion. But I'll finish telling the story first. Stop me if you've heard this one.

The editor of Naples News then offered his apology, in which he details his thought process while considering whether the article was appropriate for print. Batten soon followed suit, but what struck me about the apologies was that they were weasel apologies (tip hat to Scott Adams), like "I'm sorry you were offended by what I said" as opposed to "I'm sorry for what I said". Or at least that's how they appeared to me. And that's what I would have said: "I'm sorry you decided to be offended by something funny I wrote".

Sweet merciful crap, people, give me a break! Everything Batten wrote has shown up in a rap song at some point. And comedy bits like that are actually fairly common, where some sort of jive or ebonics or whatever is translated into more official-sounding language. And nobody cares except people who either enjoy or make a living by getting offended. Go bother SNL and its ilk, you hypocrites. At least be consistent.

To make a comparison, my friends love it when people make fun of them with a racial slant (my asian friends would love that pun). We even do it ourselves all the time (think the Beastie Boys in Professor Booty... "Well, I think it's booty!", or Tai Mai Shu - Chinese Rapper's Delight or Welcome to India - all people making fun of their own ethnic stereotypes). Black rappers make fun of geeky white people all the time and we eat it up. That's because we (again, I'm generalizing to create an unprovable point in the general case, although this point is true based on my limited sphere of acquaintances) have a sense of humor about racial issues and understand when a stereotype is being ridiculed to underscore how ridiculous it is that one blanket statement could be correctly applied to such a large group of people.

To call a white person a racist is an interesting accusation. Depending on the area of the country you live in, you have a statistically variable chance of being right. Yes, I'm saying a higher percentage of rednecks are racists than city dwellers. And I'm probably right, too. Does that make me a racist? I'm applying stereotypical generalizations to white people, which would get me labelled a huge flaming racist if I said something like that about black people. To say that Batten is a racist based on a conceptually unoriginal comedy piece he wrote which is basically plagiaraized directly from the group he's satirizing is based on some fundamentally flawed logic.

When a black person calls a white person a racist, many times there is a certain ironic insinuation by the accuser. The etymology of the N-bomb has it descending directly from the english word "ignorant". And the assumption many accusers make about white people who happen to offend racial sensibilities is that these white people are ignorant of issues and topics that are racially charged. There is a parallel here with the example of racial interaction between me and my friends. Instead of teasing and making fun with some sort of malicious intent, we're playfully hazing you. Welcome to the club. You are officially accepted into our culture. I think you'll like it better than the slave labor imposed by my jackass ancestors, just don't try to swipe the entitlement credit card. You will get made fun of occasionally, and that's ok. If you can't laugh at yourself (and the ridiculous stereotypes that are associated with you), I feel sorry for you and your humorless existence. Once we can learn to accept and embrace our differences, this country will be a much better place, but the anti-defamation industry will fight tooth and nail to keep us at each other's throats because that's what keeps their coffers overflowing.

Posted by yargevad at January 1, 2004 11:20 PM

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