Sticks and Stones and More Unhelpful Shit

September 3, 2018

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William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." It's not as good as "It came even from the heart of - O! She's dead" which can be found in King Lear Act 5 Scene 3 and is the best/worst Shakespeare line going, but it's pretty close. Roses are roses no matter what you choose to call them. Name-calling seems to be much more of an issue than when I remember it. You're probably asking the wrong guy about the efficacy of name calling, since I've heard just about every nasty little racial slur you can think of. Back in my day, I was constantly told that timeless adage, "Sticks and stones may break your bones, buy names will never hurt me." I used to recite this all the time, but I just realized something as I'm typing this. The only people who told me this were white people -- people who don't get harassed with name calling. It sure sounds good in theory, but I think almost anyone can agree, name calling actually does hurt! Perhaps this is why you don't hear this phrase uttered very often anymore, because people have come to accept that this phrase is about as helpful as "You'll poke your eye out, kid."

 

As a millionth degree black belt in getting name called, I've become pretty numb to the whole thing. I find it funny when other people get more indignant than me when it happens. I do have to say that it occurs with much less frequency than it used to. I sort of expected it to resurface living in Texas, but oddly, people here seem to be pretty tolerant of me. I suppose they have bigger ethnic groups to dislike or I'm just a really likeable guy! Ok, you didn't have to laugh until tears came out, did you? That is more hurtful than name-calling, you know. We'll just go with Texans are busy folks and they haven't gotten round to picking on me just yet. I think if someone walked up to me and called me a "gook" I'd probably just start laughing. Laughing tends to throw the other person off a little, which gives you just enough time to punch them in the throat. The opponent then is clutching their neck which means you don't have to worry about counterpunches as you start working on their nose and start practicing primitive dental extraction. If names don't bother me, then why would I purposefully injure someone else? Because I don't want them to get encouragement to call someone else the same name that might not be as ok with it. See, folks, I really am quite altruistic in my love for physical altercations. It's not for me, it's for the betterment of humanity. 

 

There is a name that I think people have shied away from, and for the life of me, I cannot understand why. That name is liberal. Liberalism has been rebranded as progressive. That's the political buzzword and I think it's complete bullshit. It's definitely a four letter word down here in most parts of the South. I am a liberal. I am a proud liberal. I do not want to be a progressive. I want to take back this name and wear it as a damn badge of honour. The first definition in the Oxford dictionary for liberal is: Willing to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one's own, open to new ideas. THAT'S TO BE SHIED AWAY FROM?!?!?!?!?! Of all the names that I have been called, liberal is the one that I don't get angry about. Not at all. I actually legitimately smile and say thank you. Because while it's intended as an insult, I cannot derive any offense from it. Liberalism ended slavery. It gave women the right to vote. It provided the civil rights movement. You know, all the things that Mike Pence says is wrong with America. 

 

The issue in übersensitive American culture is that when we take offense to every name, it dilutes the awfulness of the ones that really do matter. Except the n-word. The n-word is in a class of its own and even I am not dumb enough to even begin to discuss that. I predicted the advent of the term progressive with the flak about the r-word. By sanitizing our vocabulary of all words that are deemed offensive to even the smallest number, what we do is weaken the efficacy of dialogue. One of my favourite Bill Maher lines is when he says that we are so politically correct now that he doesn't have a dog any more. He has a Canine American. This is ammunition that conservatives use with delight in describing what is wrong with America. And you know what? Since I'm so open minded, I have to admit that I think they may just have a point. If liberals aren't tough enough to handle the word that is used to describe us, how tough are we going to be on terrorism? I'm sorry, I meant to say hyper-motivated demonstrations. 

 

Yes. I am a liberal. I am a gook. I am a Yankee. I am an asshole. I'm a yuppie. I'm a snob. I'm a dork. I'm a fatass. I am whatever else you feel like calling me. Because I have finally understood what the reality is for me. Names do hurt. I'm not inviting all of you to start hurling insults me way. But the names are used because that is the appropriate category that someone thinks I should be. And none of those words that I just mentioned are ones that I am going to disavow. I am very proudly liberal, as I discussed above. I am a gook. There are many people in this country that do not like people of Asian ethnicity. That is their right. Freedom of expression allows them to call me that. I am a damn Yankee. And damn proud of it as well. I'm most definitely an asshole, but the world needs assholes to provide perspective, both good and bad. I'm a yuppie. Anything with the word young in it, I'm all for. I'm a snob. Snobs are discerning. Shouldn't we all be more evaluative in our lives? How is that bad? I'm a dork. I like reading about Albanian submarines and still playing minesweeper.  I'm a fatass. I can't stop eating carbs that make my shirts and pants tighter than I want them to be. So, fellow liberals, please join my crusade of taking names back and owning them. Be open-minded. Be tolerant. Be all the things that make being a liberal wonderful. The only thing I want progressive in my life is my insurance. And not even that. 

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