Thursday, January 24, 2019

The weight of our words and the consequences that come with them

The conversation about the MAGA hat teens / Nathan Phillips / the Black Hebrew Israelites continues to spark debate in our national dialogue.

I guess that means another blog post on my part.

Now that Phillips has given about a dozen interviews and the teen spoke on TODAY, I think it should die down.  Sure, the memes will still survive, but by the Super Bowl, it will be in the rear view.  Hopefully the government shutdown will be over by then and there will be other things to talk about.

This entire situation morphed into several other debates, however, so the fallout keeps generating talk this week.

The clothing we wear:

I don't own a  MAGA hat, I don't want to own a MAGA hat and I don't want to wear a MAGA hat.  That being said, if someone wants to wear one, it's his or her right to do so.

Trevor Noah weighed in on the hat situation and said, essentially, that they know what MAGA hat has come to symbolize, so they shouldn't be wearing it.

Isn't that the opposite of the argument we use for sexual harassment and rape victims?

'She was wearing skimpy clothing, so she wanted to have a good time.'   That's what people use as an excuse and we don't let that slide.  Why does it get a 'pass' in this instance.

I've also seen people bring up Trayvon Martin and how people said, 'Well, you shouldn't wear a hoodie if you don't want to look suspicious.'  I do remember seeing some people express that viewpoint on social media.

People also call anyone who wears their pants near the ground are 'thugs.'

Number 1)    wearing a skimpy outfit doesn't mean you deserve to be raped
Number 2)    Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie obviously doesn't justify being shot
Number 3)    the MAGA teens shouldn't have been aggressively confronted by adults because of the hats they were wearing

The consequences we reap:

Now that I've said those things, there does come some responsibility and consequences with wearing anything.

That's a reality of life.

Wearing anything that makes you stand out will make you ... stand out.

Skimpy clothing will attract attention.  Wearing a hoodie may make you look suspicious.  Wearing a pro-Trump hat may get you a face-to-face confrontation with an angry anti-Trumper.

The consequence in making a political or cultural statement by wearing a pink pussy hat or a red MAGA hat is that people who disagree with our viewpoint (statement) may be upset with you.

They may (but shouldn't) judge you for wearing that MAGA hat.  They may project every negative feeling they have about Trump onto you, just as those who see a woman in a short skirt assume she's looking to get some.

The responsibilities we have:

The responsibility that we have when seeing someone dressed in a way we don't agree with is not to antagonize that person.

I wouldn't wear an Obama shirt to a Trump rally.  I wouldn't wear a MAGA hat to the Democratic National Convention.  I wouldn't wear a shirt with a middle finger on it into a grade school.

That's just common courtesy, something a lot of people don't exercise while exercising their free speech.