The View From The Loft
Where is Don Rickles when you need him?
I ask in reference to a rhetorical question that has been rolling around in my head for some time now, “When does political correctness stop governing civility and just become a paranoid obsession?” I want to be clear before I go any further and risk being labeled as “politically incorrect.” I am vehemently opposed to any kind of harassment or public ridicule that hurts or damages individuals or groups, whether intentionally or not. Harassment or embarrassment based on sex, race, national origin or sexual preference are unacceptable and should be considered bullying and be dealt with appropriately.
With that being said, let’s lighten up the conversation a bit. As many of you, I grew up in the Sixties and Seventies watching Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, Joan Rivers and the great Don Rickles. While most agree that all these people and many more were great entertainers, I submit that their contribution to society served an even higher purpose. They made us laugh through some of our most difficult social situations and they forced us to see ourselves and others in a different light using humor as a tool. As a result there was a paradigm shift in society’s ideas about race and national origin.
For a more contemporary reference for the younger crowd, in the Nineties and early 2000’s, along comes Will and Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Suddenly a subject that was forbidden to speak of even in private and rarely addressed in public was the premise of two of the hottest shows in television. Suddenly within a few short years comes another societal shift that has brought monumental change to our modern world.
So what’s different today? I believe the biggest problem today is that the technological ability to spew opinions is not directly proportionate to the intelligence of the one spewing. As a result, everything that is posted, tweeted or texted appears, on the surface, to be of equal value. The other difference is that in the examples above the insults and the jokes were not mean spirited, were not directed at individuals and they were self-deprecating first. You have to have the ability to laugh at yourself before you should laugh at others.
So here is what I draw from all this; Be nice, follow the Golden Rule, before you press ENTER assess yourself because you’re probably not as cute or as important as your mother said you were, remember that it takes a lot of energy to be mean and hateful and most the most important thing- LOOSEN UP. Oh! … and if you have somewhere important to go and you really want to make an impression, take a gay guy shopping with you. Even if you don’t learn anything new at least you will look Fabulous.
Now, as Don Rickles would say, why don’t all you hockey pucks get out of here, read the rest of this paper and go make somebody’s day.
(Jim Coleman is twice retired as a financial advisor and flight attendant. A theatre geek, musician, arts administrator and preservationists, he lived a relatively obscure life until he crossed paths with Corby Winters. Jm choose Newnan as his new forever home five years ago and is dedicated to making our community the best it can be.)