We do a lot of segments on the Hot Talk Morning Show to let you know what people around the country are outraged about at the moment. Most of the time we’re mocking, because people get outraged about the simplest and stupidest stuff. But it’s okay to be offended about anything…it’s a personal choice. What outrages you might be hilarious or perfectly acceptable to someone else. But when does it change from “I’m offended by this, but it’s not a big deal…I’ll ignore it or move away from what’s offending me”…to….”I’m offended by this and I demand you change your behavior immediately so you don’t offend me or anyone else ever again.” What determines that dividing line? When does an issue become big enough to exact change?
I think the determining factor is power. Once a minority group becomes powerful enough, they can wield that power to let the majority know that it’s not alright to say or do ‘this’ anymore, and if you do, ‘this’ will be the consequences. Threats like that will basically be laughed at by the majority until the minority shows they can back it up or if enough people in the majority agree with what the minority has to say.
Women were looked at as second class citizens and held under men’s thumbs for centuries. Eventually, women flexed their muscles and touted the fact that half the world is, in fact, female. Men recognized that and 100 years ago agreed to give them the vote. Equal pay is still not a reality, and in many countries, women are still treated as chattle property but at least strides are being made.
Ironically, African American men were given the vote 50 years before women, even though blacks only make up 15 percent of the population. Of course civil rights came 100 years after that, and only begrudgingly. This would be the perfect example as to why the majority shouldn’t rule when it comes to equal rights. If we let the public vote on who gets what rights, the minority is always going to get the short end of the stick. People say the Supreme Court is over-stepping its bounds to give equal rights to gays and lesbians, but if we left it up to the electorate, discrimination against lots of groups would be entirely legal and accepted.
Let’s look at gays and lesbians. They make up approximately 3 to 5 percent of the US population. In many states it’s perfectly legal to discriminate against someone for sexual orientation. Is it because of the small number and lack of power? That’s a big part of it. What about Jews? Jews make up only 2 percent of the US population, but could you imagine firing someone for being Jewish or keeping 2 Jews from marrying? Of course not. Despite the small number, that minority group wields lots of power and influence even though Jews can either been born that way or convert…which is the same exact thing some misguided people say about gays and lesbians.
Size doesn’t always matter. The largest minority group in the US is the Latinos…at about 17 percent. Despite the size, it seems perfectly okay for some people to talk about Hispanics as if they’re really not people. Jokes and putdowns aren’t met with the same disdain you’d hear if you said something bad about another group. Why? Power…or the lack thereof. Some Hispanics are starting to rise in the ranks of power politically and economically, but until they do, it seems like treating them as second-class will be acceptable to too many.
Why do Asian-Americans, who represent only 5 percent of the US population skate by? Is it language, assimilation, money, power?
In addition to power, a lot of acceptance has to do with the passage of time. Several groups, including Asians, Italians, Irish, etc, were all treated as less-than-human when they first started coming to our shores. After a while, they were accepted, and America’s disdain turned to whoever the newest batch of immigrants were. Now, that befalls the Muslims. People of the Islamic faith only make up about 1 percent of the US population, and they are now the target of most discrimination…which is perfectly acceptable to most Americans.
I started this blog with the question of what determines the dividing line of offensiveness? How many people need to be offended before something needs to be changed of sanitized? A few thousand…a few hundred….one? We’ve seen plenty of examples where one person complains to a group about something they’ve done and that group changes. Is that one person the only person with the strength to stand up to a larger group and ask for change….or are they just over-sensitive and represent only themselves?
So…what’s the litmus test on whether something’s offensive? I would say, if you have something to say about a group, if you could go up to one of that group’s members and say it to their face without the fear of reprisal or injury, you’re okay. I would also say, if you could substitute the word ‘women’ or ‘black’ in place of whatever group you have something to say about…and you know you’d get in trouble for saying it….then don’t say it.
Whether you get married by a Justice of the Peace or a priest or you just go to city hall... whether you have a reception, go on a honeymoon or get a bite for lunch afterwards... any way you cut it... you are married with a marriage license that's recognized in every state.
Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships stop short of allowing same sex couples marriage rights and it's not recognized across statelines. All they want are equal rights when it comes to marriage rights.
Call it something else. "Wife" and "husband" should be reserved for heterosexual marriages. "Partner" was working all these years for homosexual partners. "Marriage" for heterosexual couples and "Civil Unions" for homosexual couples.
Just change the parameters of a Civil Union, and the problem would be solved. End of story.
It's not about religion. It's about rights. It's not about moral decay. It's about two people that love each other.
Today's Supreme Court case is about two women who are in love and raising a family together... three kids! They want to protect their family. That's far from moral decay.
Whom am I to judge who one loves and why? I'm not perfect at it either... neither are half the married couples in this great nation.
All over France, blue-white-red national flags flew from buildings on Friday. President Francois Hollande asked the people to hoist the tricolor in patriotic solidarity with the 130 people terrorists massacred two weeks ago in Paris.