Matt Lauer Draws Ire For Asking Two Simple Questions

Matt Lauer has been one of the most consistently liberal voices in New York media in my lifetime.  Often you’ll find him lobbing softball questions at his favorite left-wing icons while ignoring the opposition or just not even having them there to discuss their point at all.  It’s the worst kept secret in the media today, and part of the reason that The Today Show is a favorite stopping point for everyone peddling a social justice cause du jour.

It came as a great surprise to me that Lauer would be at the center of a controversy over his questioning of GM CEO Mary Barra when he asked her on his show two questions that sent everyone into a frenzy.

Question #1: Do you think you were given the position to present a softer side of GM during its current crises?

Question #2: Do you think you’ll be able to effectively balance being a CEO and a mother?

Now, many people who could potentially ask that question would be called out for being sexist and so on, but when I read the questions, I thought of it completely differently.  Lauer is a lot of things, but sexist?  No.  He’s actually, to put it in the words of many people I’ve heard call him such, a weenie and is so committed to being unapologetically left-wing that I actually think people are seeing this precisely the wrong way.

Let’s look at question #1.  He didn’t say she wasn’t qualified, but he did imply that her being a woman shed a warmer light on the company than having a man at the helm would.  Those kinds of considerations are made all the time and, honestly, when left wingers (the complainers in this case) talk about affirmative action, this is what happens.  In fact, talking about making “diversity appointments” or hiring someone to fill a quota or presenting a more “diverse” appearance, these are the consequences.  Added to that, the side effect of affirmative action type policies is that every protected class who achieves anything will have it questioned because of it and you have a combustible mix of a bad idea and an insitutionalized bias.

She basically answered that question by saying that “Some people would say that, but I’ve earned the position on my merits.”  Fine.  Problem solved.

Now for question #2: Can you balance the needs of being a CEO and a mother?

This is the question that caused the most outrage because it was clear to everyone with a women’s studies degree that the only reason for asking that question was because Lauer clearly believes that women do not have the ability to do so.  I mean, that’s what interviewers do, right?  They ask questions that have simple answers that validate their beliefs, right?

Well yeah, if they suck as an interviewer they do, but Lauer isn’t an idiot.  Lauer didn’t ask that question because he believes it, it’s called lobbing a softball.  Lauer wouldn’t conceivably believe that she couldn’t do the job and balance being a mother.  He asked the question to give her a springboard from which to jump into exactly why she could do that and how ridiculous that question, which didn’t originate in Lauer’s brain, really is.

That’s right, as Lauer explained, he was referencing a Forbes article that raised a similar point and he was giving her a chance to respond.

Oops.

Of course that doesn’t stop the gnashing of teeth, as it usually doesn’t and the usual suspects are calling for the usual things.  Boycotts, protests, angry tweets, etc.

Yawn.

See, I’ve been known to commit acts of journalism from time to time.  In a former life, I was the Editor of my high school newspaper, a writer for my college newspaper, and a mildly successful podcaster including a stint as an interviewer where I talked to some of the best names in the tech business, so believe me, I know what I’m talking about when I say this: Matt Lauer’s agenda drove him to ask those questions, and that agenda is not to make her look bad, but to make her critics look bad.

When he asked those questions, it was to give her easy criticisms that she could forcefully reject and look like the strong qualified leader she is.  He wasn’t trying to make her look bad, he was trying to give her an opportunity to make herself look good and instead of taking it, she reacted to him (not the critics he was citing) and then her advocates joined right in because, as is usually the case, they led with their hearts and not with their brains.

Sad, because this was a missed opportunity to respond forcefully to critics (which, to her credit, Barra kind of did) and her answers, which were pretty decent (albeit they could’ve been more forceful) are now being overshadowed by a bunch of offenderati jerks who don’t understand how journalism actually happens and how an interview is done.

Tragic.

If Matt Lauer hadn’t been so reliably liberal over his time as host of Today, I might buy that he was being combative with Barra, but I just don’t see it.    If you follow my golden rule and assume benign intent, then you can make a rational argument (rather than an emotional one) that he was merely giving her a chance to speak her peace.

People need to relax a little and stop being so quick to be outraged and extort apologies.  It seems to be a recurring theme lately, and yet we’ve learned next to nothing after each time it happens.


Header image via Nan Palmero on Flickr

IRS Hard Drives Died Conveniently; Only An Idiot Believes That

If we’ve learned nothing else in this whole IRS targeting scandal, it’s that no matter what is uncovered and no matter how improbable the explanations for the malfeasance and coverup are, there’s guaranteed to be some left-winger that’s going to defend the agency as if it were their mother.

A few days ago on The Daily Beast, yet another defense of Lois Lerner appeared.  The reliably blind liberal Michael Tomasky defended the preposterous claim by the IRS that Lerner’s e-mail was on a hard drive that conveniently crashed and that no backup existed of and that was unable to be retrieved.  Here’s what Tomasky had to say:

Her computer crashed on June 13, 2011. It was the following day that she wrote to other IRS personnel to tell them: “My computer crashed yesterday.” This date was noted last week by Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

That was when all those emails disappeared on her. It happened 16 days before she even knew about the problem in the Cincinnati office. So how likely is it that she deleted those emails in order to prevent House investigators from being able to learn anything about the “scandal”? Considering that she didn’t know about the problem yet, I’d say bloody unlikely.

First of all, let’s address the easiest part of the “defense” he’s putting forward: that she didn’t know about the scandal and only found out 16 days later.  How do we know this?  Oh right, because she said so.  Not because we have any actual proof.  Not because it’s documented.  Because she said she didn’t know about it until a certain date.

I’m sorry but how is that a valid defense?  That’s what makes the missing data irrelevant?  That she said she didn’t know about the scandal the data pertained to until a certain point 16 days afterward?

Fine.  Let’s pretend you believe that nonsense.  How do you explain the fact that so many of the people involved in the scandal had similar occurences?  Oh, what?  You didn’t know that?  Yeah, you probably didn’t because it’s nearly been embargoed by the media.  Here’s the story from National Review.

The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.

The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.

Let’s suspend disbelief and say Lois Lerner’s hard drive conveniently crashed right before she “knew” about the scandal.  How about the other six who were being investigated?  Did their email suddenly get wiped too?   Was their hard drive not backed up somewhere?

And by somewhere, I mean somewhere they had a contract for backup services with?

The problem with the explanations that we’ve been getting is that they don’t actually make sense, and on top of it recently we were sold a bill of goods that the emails are stored only on the personal computers of the IRS employees and not the servers and that people were responsible for maintaining their own archives.

Well, if that’s the case, then please explain to me how these six employees conveniently lost their emails all at the same time, and that those are the time frames that happen to contain the alleged collaboration that’s under review by Congress.

Go ahead.  I dare you.

Michael Tomasky, as you could expect, then turns the conversation to George W. Bush and comparing it to the Attorneys General that were fired by him and how the e-mails for that and the Valerie Plame scandal went missing.  I’m not really sure what his point in bringing that up is, but I’m pretty sure it’s the usual “Bush did it so Obama did it” stuff we just can’t seem to get enough of.  Apparently if your guy does something and you can prove that the other guy did the same thing, it’s okay even if it’s wrong.

Typical “party politics” mindset, if you ask me.

I find it hard to believe that the people defending both Lerner and the IRS are being intellectually honest.  In fact, in my opinion, they’re being the exact opposite and you know this is the case once they drag out George W. Bush.

It’s pretty clear that the IRS did target Tea Party groups, then worked very diligently to cover it up.  You’re totally within your rights to think otherwise, and if the conclusion you draw after the ridiculous stalling and silly excuses is that Lerner and her folks are telling the truth, then good for you.  I reckon you probably believe Obama is a great President, government can save the world, and if we just took more out of the pockets of those who make more money we can fix everything wrong with this planet.

But if you’re an actual adult who understands that excuses for their behavior are so silly that if you gave those excuses back to them in an audit you’d end up owing the IRS thousands upon thousands of dollars then congratulations because you see through both the idiotic spin being dished out daily by the IRS about this and the hordes of statist left-wing defenders who have contorted reality into a twisted pretzel of explaining away the obvious truths that are sitting right before us.

We, as enlightened and intelligent adults who utilize common sense and can draw rational conclusions from evidence may not be able to convince the Michael Tomaskys of the world that we’re onto them, but the one thing we don’t have to do is accept it quietly.  The facts are out there and it’s important that we share them whenever possible and particularly in instances like this when our beloved and benevolent dictators cross a line.


via Ken Teegardin on Flickr

 

Delta Tweets a Giraffe Photo, Pisses Off Over Sensitive Jackasses

When you think of Africa, what do you think of?  Unless you’re an intellectually dishonest left-wing douchebag, you think of safaris, lions, etc.  And unless you’re a really guilty left-wing douchebag, you probably don’t feel bad about it no matter how much you’re told that those thoughts are racist stereotypes held by stupid white people who don’t bother to understand how different and varied the countries of Africa actually are.

Because I’m sure you really give a damn, don’t you?

So Delta, after the USA beat Ghana in their World Cup match posted a tweet that congratulated Team USA and included two pictures.  One of a giraffe, and another of the Statue of Liberty.

Offenderati, start your engines!

The reaction was swift, immediate, and decisive.  Cries of racism and outrage flew forth with speed usually reserved for the Red Bull Air Race.  It was the perfect storm of pompous outrage, white privilege accusations, and an opportunity to bemoan the ignorance of western culture.  It was a perfect chowder of all the crap soup we’ve been served in the past few months every single time someone says something that makes someone unhappy.

I always ask myself who actually gets offended by stuff like this.  For ages and ages, the nations of Africa have made their money on tourism from Western people looking for the Safari experience.  The fastest-growing industry in Tanzania, for example, is tourism and, chances are, if you’re going to Tanzania, it’s to either photograph exotic animals, or shoot them dead.

That’s just reality.

But beyond that, is it really such a bad thing to assume that giraffes live in a country in Africa?  More to the point, is it such a ridiculous presumption that the mere expression of it is cause for, essentially, a modern-day letter writing campaign?  Who, in the nation of Ghana, was personally harmed by a tweet, and in what way?  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of the outrage came from the “check your privilege” crowd who who the sane world has come to know, hate, and wish smited from the planet.  Here are two of the featured outrage tweets from Fox News…

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Oh yeah.  Saying giraffes live in Africa is totally racist you moron.

Delta’s apology (yes, they made an official apology over this) was as groveling and silly as you would expect a corporate apology to be.

After removing the “offending” tweet, Delta groveled…

skitch

Okay A, you’re sorry for your choice of photo?  Why?  Because some internet douches on Twitter got butthurt over it?  And B, best of luck to all teams?  Why?  Do you have to now root for Ghana because you misused a giraffe!?

I mean, I know this is silly, but that’s kind of the point: it’s silly.  At some point I’d really love for a company to grow a pair of balls and say “You know what?  I don’t give a damn if you’re offended.  We can’t make everyone happy all the time, so be an adult and realize things are gonna be said that will make you unhappy and if you’re not happy it’s your problem, not ours.”

I know.  Dream on, right?

I could live with the apology a little more if Delta hadn’t double-groveled by wishing “all teams” good luck when they clearly don’t mean it (as evidenced by the fact that the whole thing started when the US airline was congratulating the US soccer team on their win), but Delta didn’t even have the courage to not try and endear themselves to the same people who, as of the moment that tweet was made, will never not see them as racist and will perpetually be trying to extract apologies and penance from Delta.

Meanwhile, in the real world, reasonable adults understand that this was neither racist, nor offensive, and the overreaction by the aggrieved is the only thing more offensive than the stupid apology for using a universally understood symbol for a continent.

By the standards of the offenderati, I should be very angry that they chose the Statue of Liberty.  After all, there’s no Statue of Liberty in California, so it’s stereotypical of the US, right?  Damn, Delta, you can’t get anything right!  The main thrust of the criticism of the picture choice was that they were using an animal to represent a country’s people.  That’s all well and good, so let’s carry that over.  The US picture used a statue.  Are we all made of copper and blue-green now?

And yes, before you get your Righteous Anger(tm) brand underwear in a bunch, I understand that the situations aren’t exactly parallel, but at the same time, I’m just tired of people seeking reasons to be offended, and I’m tired of the insincere groveling apologies that universally follow that offense.  The apologizing party doesn’t really mean it, the apology target doesn’t really accept it, and the whole thing looks ridiculous to normal people looking in from the outside, so maybe…  Just maybe we can put a stop to this stupid charade we keep engaging in time and time again…

Whaddya say…  Maybe we can start being adults, now?


Header Image via Enjosmith on Flickr 

Gungrabbers Twist Facts Because They Have To

Gun control advocates have been trying really hard to get as much mileage as possible out of the Sandy Hook shooting, and they’ve made good progress.  Many states, including my own, immediately and reflexively clamped down on guns as if that would suddenly halt the problem.  No one even bothered to understand that Connecticut already had an assault weapons ban at the time of the shooting.

It didn’t matter, though, because Adam Lanza was set on killing people.

This is where the anti-gun lobby falls on its face: they never seem to understand that all the laws in the world won’t make them safer because the people who follow gun laws, myself included, are not a danger.  I’m not going to shoot you, even though I could from a very respectable distance, because it’s not in my nature.  I won’t take my rifle to a spot with a good vantage point of a schoolyard and start picking off kids at recess because I have no desire or motivation to do so.  My guns are legally owned, they’re locked (one is in a locked case, the other is trigger locked) and the ammo for them, when I’m not out of it, is not near them.

You can pass laws until you’re blue in the face, but in the end you will be no safer tomorrow than you are today because you’re not in any danger today.  From me, anyway.

Gungrabbers reflexively spew numbers because numbers quantify what they see as the problem.  Often, they don’t realize that when they drop these numbers on people, smart people take the time to process them and come to conclusions and those conclusions aren’t always what the gungrabbers want even with a media that literally jumps right into their corner.

Take for instance this recent graphic going around, purporting to be statistics on handgun violence in various countries.

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A cursory look at this piece of stupidity and you can simply say it’s another anti-gun propaganda piece.  It looks silly in context of the arguments made against “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” but it looks even sillier when it purports to be current data and includes a country named “West Germany.”  The actual data isn’t much better, of course, and doesn’t account for population size, legal gun ownership rate, or any other distinguishing factors, it simply shows a number and has been repeated uncritically thousands of times as proof of a point.

It came as no surprise when Michael Bloomberg’s Every Town for Gun Safety, an organization devoted to doing nothing more than making it still harder for people to legally own a firearm, came out with a statistic that lit the internet and most major media on fire.  The claim was simple.  Since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, there have been 74 school shootings.  This number and the accompanying report were repeated in every major news outlet across the country and nearly all of them did so uncritically.  The astonishing part of that is that these mainstream media organizations echo’ed the report knowing full well that it was driven by an agenda and an ideologically biased group but since the media in general likes this kind of advocacy (namely, what Everytown advocates for), it didn’t matter, and off to the presses they went.

Immediately upon seeing the data, many people were puzzled.  Had the folks reporting this number fallen down on their job that badly?  If there were 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook, how is it at all possible that we didn’t hear about them?

The simple answer is because the number is an outright lie.

As soon as the number started hitting the media, Charles R. Johnson started looking into it and found that only 15 out of the 74 “school shootings” were actual “school shootings” in what adults consider the term to mean.  Once Johnson finished his work, they concluded the same, and just a few days ago, Politifact, an organization that almost always skews left in their analysis of facts, was even harder on the organization saying that only 10 of the incidents in the report were actual school shootings.

Among their findings, Politifact noted:

  • Incidents such as Sandy Hook or Columbine in which the shooter intended to commit mass murder: 10 instances
  • Incidents related to criminal activity (such as drug dealing or robbery), or personal altercations: 39 instances
  • Incidents unconnected to members of school community and/or that took place outside school hours: 16 instances
  •  Suicides: 6 instances
  • Accidental discharges: 3 instances

Does that sound like a rash of school shootings to you?  Because it sure doesn’t to me.  It sounds  a lot like someone Googled the word “gun” and then posted any stories within a certain date range, but that should surprise precisely no one because the truth rarely bears out the hysteria from the gungrabber crowd.

They also carefully worded their report with phraseology such as “We should feel secure in sending our children to school” even when 35 of the shootings they cited were at a college.  Clearly, they were trying to elicit fear from parents, and, as I noted earlier, the complicit media played right along.

In numerous discussions over this I’ve heard every manner of justification for this bogus stat you can imagine, including “It doesn’t matter if the number is 74, 10, or 3.  1 is even too many.”  That sounds nice on paper, but it’s also complete and total bullshit because if they truly believed “1 is too many” then 1 would be enough, but they know damn well they need to puff up those stats to look as scary as possible in order to get vote-seeking douchebags in state houses and Congress to pass reactionary legislation to solve a problem that legislation can’t actually solve.

If you really want to know how weak the gungrabbers are in their grasp of numbers, think about this.  Gungrabbers often cite a number of around 200,000,000 guns in the United States as proof that there are “too many” guns in this country, yet when you consider that sheer number and take it along with the chart below you realize why they have to lie.SDT-2013-05-gun-crime-1-2

They have to lie because the “too many guns = crime” thing is overly simplistic and belies the fact that legal guns do not contribute to crime in the first place.

So what can people who believe in the right to bear arms, the second amendment, and the right to defend your property including the number one piece of property you own, your body, when gungrabbers start spreading lies and their accomplices in the media are not only complicit, but gleefully and uncritically parrot every word they speak?  Well, for one thing you can make sure to not let their lies go unchecked.  Every single time they lie, counter with facts, real statistics and non-debatable points.  They’ll always argue from emotion because appeals to emotion, parents, families, and “the children” will always go a long way, but if you back them into a corner and they can’t prove their empty arguments, you’ve won.

Secondly, be a model citizen, particularly if you’re a gun owner.  I respect non-owners as much as owners, but I won’t concede my rights to placate their fears.  I simply refuse to allow anyone to tell me I’m not entitled to defend myself because we have a police force in the same way I wouldn’t advise anyone against having a fire extinguisher because there are firefighters.

It’s time we took back this debate, and if it means we have to exhaustively engage every single anti-gun zealot in this country who thinks that a criminal with a gun is the same as a legally licensed gun owner then that’s what we have to do or we’ll simply watch our rights get flushed directly down the toilet.  Allowing idiocy like this “74 School Shootings” lie to go unchecked simply because the people who are spreading it think it’s right “in principle” is something we’re obligated to put a stop to immediately.


Header Image via Elvert Barnes on Flickr

Cosmo Goes Nuts, Ignores Its Role In The Issue

Cosmopolitan, that magazine loaded with tons of fat acceptance, on June 4th had a piece on their website that just reeked of complete crap, or at least crap of the disingenuous kind.

In a discussion about Melissa McCarthy’s Oscar attire from last year, they expressed outrage that no prominent designers wanted to design her attire for the occasion.

In the new issue of Redbook, however, McCarthy explains that finding her Oscars look was not easy. Despite the opportunity to have their work worn by a presenter and, you know, also a beautiful, talented, and hilarious actress, “five or six designers, very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people, all said no” to her requests for a gown. She does not name names, which is polite — designers who don’t want to show off their work on a fuller-figured woman are, in fact, only showing off their own limitations, and probably deserve to be called out for it. It’s not that much more difficult to produce stunning, red carpet-worthy gowns for women with curves than it is for those without; really, it isn’t. So what gives, fashion people? Sort it out, please. And soon.

You get all that?   It’s wrong, damn wrong, that she couldn’t find a designer to do the deed and Cosmo is not happy about it.  It makes me wonder, however, if Cosmo has ever looked inside its own pages.

Here’s July 2014’s cover featuring Katy Perry.

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I’m glad they chose plus-sized icon Katy Perry for the cover so they could teach you her trick for “flat abs.”  When was the last time they even had a “woman with curves,” as they referred to McCarthy, on their cover?  In fact, during a cursory look at their last 20 or so covers, Adele is the only one in the group.

Most of the cover models look a lot more like Katy Perry than Melissa McCarthy.  And by most, I mean nearly all.

And every issue is loaded with tricks on how to lose weight, how to “look better,” how to “have a bikini body” and other euphemisms for “get slim so you aren’t fat.”  Nearly all of the ads are for companies that don’t even make clothing for plus-sized women and when criticism has been lobbed toward media outlets for the pressure they put on young girls, it’s almost always directed at Cosmo primarily because of their reputation of glamorizing thin women, thin clothing designers, and “looking good” (losing weight, etc).

If Cosmo truly felt that what happened to Melissa McCarthy was worthy of scorn, it could be easily fixed and it wouldn’t even take a whole ton on their part to do so considering their clout in the publishing business.

  • They could refuse to accept advertisements from companies that don’t make clothing that fits all sizes of women.  If the clothing line isn’t diverse enough to fit everyone, then they aren’t a good fit for the glossy interior of Cosmo.
  • They could put more plus-sized women on the cover, and I don’t mean plus-sized by the ridiculous definition of what has come to mean plus-sized.  I mean large curvy women of the size that they’ve shunned for years and years.
  • They could actually make an effort to stop running ads with cut up and chiseled guys as well and maybe feature a regular guy or two.  I mean, if you’re going to pretend body image diversity matters, then it should matter for men and women, not just women.

There’s one problem with all of those things, however, and the problem is that they all would actually mean changing their business model, potentially angering advertisers, and maybe losing readers who find plus-sizes disgusting.  They can’t have that, can they?

It’s easy for Cosmo to pontificate on what’s wrong with the world and how everyone else needs to fix it.  It’s much harder when you turn that microscope inward and have to figure out ways that you can help fix it.

Now I should be really clear; I don’t care what Cosmo prints.  I don’t care if they only have the thinnest of thin anorexic-looking celebrities on their cover and run article after article on how important it is to have a 6-pack bikini body and a perfect ass.  My issue with them isn’t the trash they choose to publish on a month-to-month basis because I believe that people have a right to say what they want, publish what they want, and run their business as they see fit.

My problem is when an icon of everything that’s considered “the problem” starts lecturing others on their contribution to it.  It would be the equivalent of someone standing their with a blow torch bitching that people keep starting fires with matches.  It’s all well and good that Cosmo has jumped in the corner of Melissa McCarthy, but that’s a pretty damn hollow gesture, and unless I miss my guess, that plea for designers to get their crap together never even appeared in the magazine, proving that their commitment to this “issue” is as thin as the paper it could potentially be printed on.

Once Cosmo starts walking the walk, I’ll take them a lot more seriously.  For now, it’s just blather and politically correct outrage and as long as they have such a great platform upon which to actually do something and they don’t, you’ll never convince me they mean the words that were printed.


Header via Mingle Media  TV on Flickr

 

Context Doesn’t Just Matter, It’s Everything

In Jonah Hill’s apology to the LGBT community for saying a word that’s so verboten that you have to grovel for days after saying it, he made one very revealing statement that tells you everything you need to know about how devoid of substance our current apology culture really is.

In his apology, he actually said the following sentence.

I said the most hurtful word I could think of at that moment. I didn’t mean this in the sense of the word. I didn’t mean it in a homophobic way. I think that….that doesn’t matter, you know? How you mean things doesn’t matter. Words have weight in meaning. The word I chose was grotesque. No one deserves to say or hear words like that.

Wait, what?  How you mean things doesn’t matter?  Everyone who heard this should be shocked at such a daft statement from a man who makes his living both writing and producing movies and acting, right?  Instead, people are reinforcing his idiotic statement.

Perhaps most significant in all of this is Hill’s acknowledgement that the context and what he meant by the word—a word that, like so many of us, Hill probably heard hurled with impunity throughout his teenage years, just by virtue of being a dude—simply doesn’t matter.

If the context doesn’t matter, then holy crap do we have a lot of things we need to rethink, and we can start with the actual thing that Hill said.  If you recall from yesterday’s post, he told the photographer who he felt was harassing him to “Suck my fucking dick you faggot.”  While he’s gone out of his way to distance himself and self flagellate over the use of the word “faggot,” if context doesn’t matter and only words do, Jonah Hill literally requested a blowjob from the photographer.

See what you get into when you start taking the context away from words?

And Hill is an actor.  In Hill’s movies, he has used the word faggot multiple times.  In fact, in Wolf of Wall Street, Jonah Hill tosses around the word “fag” to provoke a fight in a parking lot.  In Django Unchained, Hill appeared as a KKK member who tossed around the word “nigger” with relative ease.  By Hill’s (and by extension, by A.V. Club’s) rationale, he thinks gay people are fags and black people are niggers, since context doesn’t matter.

Adults inherently understand the importance of context, even when using words that may make people uncomfortable.  The idea that a word has a weight of its own and a mind of its own is childish, simplistic, and flat out stupid, and the idea that there is no need for discussion of context when discussing something someone says tells me that we are a long way off from being the adults we’re supposed to be.

Apologies are only sincere when we address the heart of the statement that warranted the apology.  Apologizing simply for a choice of words tells me that we don’t want to have deeper discussions about what is meant, we just want to be childish and take every word at its face value with no understanding of the intent behind it or the meaning of it.

As someone who makes their bones with words, I’m not really sure I want to live in that world.

Jonah Hill’s comment, though, shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows the media and so on to any extent.  In fact, I’ve talked here about apology culture many times, and there’s one thing in common with nearly every story about someone apologizing: words are punished with a complete disregard for context.

Joan Rivers, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, caught hell for joking that her room at Melissa’s house was as small as the room the Cleveland kidnap girls were held in.  She didn’t diminish their suffering or anything else, but the mere mention of the girls was called disrespectful and everyone jumped on her, resulting in Willie Geist making the most insincere and over the top apology I’ve ever seen a human being make.  The context of her words didn’t matter, she was soundly beaten, verbally, for saying them.

A game development company, Turtle Rock Studios, fired its community manager for saying that Donald Sterling was the victim of a person who betrayed his trust by recording his conversations and distributing them to the media.  In his tweet, he said…

k56nfdbpcck58tjhmhwxTurtle Rock immediately let him go, saying that his comments stand in stark contrast to the beliefs of the company.  Notice, Olin did not say he was correct for his views, only that his privacy was violated and it’s wrong, but the lynch mob focused on his quote of “He’s a victim.” and used that to determine that Olin supported the racism he espoused and therefore he had to be fired.  Again, context be damned.

Pharrell Williams recently landed in hot water for a cover of Elle UK on which he was wearing a Native American head dress.

pharrell-williams-elle-uk-featuredIt didn’t matter that the context wasn’t disrespectful or that he wasn’t pulling a YMCA Indian Chief gimmick, and it didn’t matter that he is, in fact, part Native American, he immediately was harassed until he apologized over the cover, and of course he had to give the usual caveats that he never meant to offend and he honors all cultures.  Some still haven’t accepted his apology and the cries of “cultural appropriation” have run wild, mostly from Western-dressing Native American tribes who wear jeans, sneakers, and other parts of a culture they’re totally not appropriating, you guys.

It just keeps getting more ridiculous, and the more ridiculous it gets, the less we discuss the context of the thing that’s allegedly offensive because all we need is someone to be outraged and that’s good enough to demand an apology even if the “offending” remark or word wasn’t directed directly at them or to them.

Jonah Hill’s admission that context doesn’t matter is very enlightening and shines light on a problem we have in this country and, to a similar extent, the rest of the world: we’re shallow, thoughtless, and base in our arguments and reactionary in our comments on current events, particularly controversial ones.  When anyone can say, to a modern civilized world that “What you meant don’t matter; we only care about what you said because we can’t be bothered to give you the courtesy of thinking about meaning before we react,” we’re setting ourselves down a bad and dangerous path.

I’m scared.


Header Image via David Goehring on Flickr

 

Jonah Hill’s “Perfect Apology” Is Bullshit

After being followed and annoyed by a paparazzi photographer who made a crack about the shorts he was wearing, Jonah Hill, told him to “Suck my fucking dick you faggot.”  The right to say it notwithstanding, Hill did it to a man carrying a video camera who, probably, immediately saw the gold he was carrying, and went to TMZ with the footage.  The rest, of course, is as predictable as the day is long, and Hill immediately began the grovel that accompanies all slips of the tongue in 2014 in an effort to prove that his words did not represent his true feelings about the LGBT community.

After showing up on the Howard Stern show, he appeared the same night on Jimmy Fallon’s show and basically repeated the same apology, but on Fallon’s show, he got choked up, then chose to martyr himself by telling everyone “If you want to do what I did, use me as an example.” Translation: look at what I’m going through and make a better decision.

The headhunters in the media immediately jumped out to say this was a “perfect” apology and applauded Hill for groveling in the right amount.  Everyone was so happy that this sniveling snot apology hit all the necessary points to be considered contrite and the world moves on.

Screw that.  Someone has to call Jonah Hill out on his bullshit and you know what?  Seeing as I pride myself on being an expert bovine fecal matter detector, it might as well be me.

First of all, let’s address the big part of the issue: he called someone a faggot.  The only equivalent word in the English language these days is nigger, and both send the lynchmob into a feeding frenzy (as long as your politics or reputation don’t match the “accepted” ones).  I’m going to lay some knowledge on you, and this is going to shock some of you.  Ready?  I love racial humor.  And sexist humor.  And gender humor.  And sexual orientation humor.  The more offensive it is, the higher the probability that I’ll enjoy it.  I make jokes all the time, and I love making offensive jokes in an elbow-to-the-ribs kinda way.  I make black, puerto rican, and gay jokes with friends of those stripes without any thought that they’ll be offended and we all have a good laugh over them.

But one thing I have never and would never do is use a slur and direct it at someone.  I have never called a black person a nigger, a gay person a faggot, or any other slur.  You can ask anyone who knows me and they’ll confirm it for you: I simply do not use those words toward other people.  I’ll readily admit to using them in jokes or in smart-ass remarks, but I never once have ever used them to refer to another person.  This is where Jonah Hill, to me, is a liar.

See, I’ve been really pissed off at people who I could come up with a convenient ethnic, racial, or sexual orientation slur for, but the words have never come out of my mouth.  They’re not at the tip of my tongue and they don’t “slip out” no matter how angry I get.  It just doesn’t happen.  Hill, however, wanted to insult someone who criticized his clothing.  The clear implication he made with his choice of the word “faggot” is that if you notice another man’s clothing, you’re gay and if I want to hurt a gay person, the best thing I can do is call them a faggot.  So that’s what he did, adding a request for fellatio to punch it up.   In Hill’s apology, he says “I said a disgusting word that does not reflect at all how I feel about any group of people.”

Jonah Hill, you are a liar.

Calling someone a faggot in that circumstance doesn’t slip out of your mouth unless you have used it in that way in the past.  It’s convenient that he doesn’t feel this way about any group of people, yet his remark, when rationalized through the perspective of where that would come from, seems to fit a perfect stereotype of the kind of person you would call a “faggot.”  If that word didn’t reflect your opinion of a group of people, then it wouldn’t have come to mind in such a perfect circumstance.  Instead, you picked the exact right time to use a term you never use about a group you don’t feel a certain way about all by coincidence?  Not bloody likely, dude.

In his apology on the Stern show he makes sure to defend himself by saying that he was going to spend time with his gay friend who was about to be married.  It’s the old “I’m not a homophobe; I have lots of gay friends” thing, and everyone just ate it up like it was so heartwarming of him to say.

On Fallon, Hill broke down in his groveling, getting choked up when talking about how he shouldn’t have done it.  The NY Daily News couldn’t get enough of Hill’s apology, saying it was “A sincere celebrity apology” and praising him for doing it on Fallon as if he booked the visit simply for the apology and not to promote his new movie, 22 Jump Street.  They even, helpfully, told you how to grovel for yourself in case you ever need to.  How helpful!

Now I’m going to basically take everything I just wrote and invalidate it to an extent.  I don’t hink Jonah Hill should have to apologize, except maybe to the camera person and in that regard only if they were personally offended by being called a faggot.  He doesn’t have to apologize to the community at large, the LGBT community, special interest groups, activists, or anyone else in the pitchfork and torch crowd.  In fact, the whole reason he had to give this bullshit apology in the first place is because we sit around waiting for people to slip up so that we can extract our pound of flesh from them.  Everyone lies in wait for their moment to demonstrate the power they have over them.  We don’t have to wait long to find out if someone offended an aggrieved group because the offenderati are there to immediately grab the issue and run with it because, frankly, they have nothing better to do.

A celebrity or anyone else should only have to apologize when they feel the need to and they should never have an apology extracted from them the way people do today.  Similarly, you are not entitled to an apology when something doesn’t concern you directly.  You do not have the right to ask for an apology for something that does not directly affect you (and I don’t mean your group by race, ethnicity, gender orientation, sexual orientation or anything else, I mean you specifically ).  If Jonah Hill using a word you find offensive is such a great affront to you as a person, even if the word wasn’t directed at you, you probably need to re-evaluate your life.  And if this “apology,” his groveling, and his horrendous explanation for his behavior sate you, then you’re probably not really offended to begin with.  You just want your pound of flesh so that you can show you have power over another person.

That kind of megalomaniacal lauding of power over others is probably more a cause for apology  than some dope celebrity saying a bad word.