Saturday, September 10, 2016

We're not gonna take it.... anymore

I think more often than ever before in the history of modern society, people are calling out others for the things they say in public. By "in public", I'm referring both to physical public space and virtual public space, such as social media and comments on news sites.

In a recent example, a male Alberta politician joked that it was too bad that "beating" our female Premier was against the law. He immediately apologized and issued a statement, but the cat was already out of the bag. Sparks flew and he was admonished for joking about violence toward a woman, let alone another human being.

Some people came to his rescue and suggested that too much was being made of the comment because he was after all, just joking. I've also read several opinion pieces that suggest that saying something inappropriate while joking around, although it isn't meant to be taken seriously, is still a symptom of the character of the individual making the joke. I would counter that sometimes we say things for various reasons. For example, I might say something to "fit in", or as a way of venting, or as a means of playing the fool. But an excuse for saying something inappropriate can often be disassembled by asking the person if they would still say the same thing something about, or in front of, their mother, or spouse, or the opposite sex. If the answer is no, then the person has a double standard. Or they're a comedian. If the answer is yes, then there are deeper issues at heart.

I would offer that many of the things that people say or do are learned behaviours, based on a person's upbringing, cultural experiences, environment and so on. Some people choose to resist those behaviours, while others embrace them as a form of cultural bonding. For example, in the military, it was common for non-commissioned members to curse. A lot. Not everyone embraced this behaviour, but most did. In my case, it became a learned behaviour that I had to quickly unlearn when I left the service. I very quickly realized that it wasn't considered acceptable behaviour and I had to adapt. I have relapses, but they typically occur when I'm severely agitated, or my ego is highly stimulated.

The thing is, I know in my heart that it is wrong to physically hurt someone and it is just as wrong to joke about it. But I would be just as much at fault to stand idly by, while someone else does it. To suggest that it's just a joke, is, when you get right down to it, just an excuse.

Unfortunately, we still have members of our society that don't hesitate to judge and verbally assault or mock-threaten someone's life when they disagree with that person. It's wrong and I applaud those who call these people out.

No matter where you sit on this fence, I like the growing trend that observers are now willing to speak up when people behave or communicate in an inappropriate way, or a way that makes us feel disrespected. I hope to see this trend continue so that decades of learned bad behaviour is finally challenged for what it is, regardless of the motive, meaning, and context.

No comments: