Beautiful Intolerance

FeatureWe all need to take a moment and thank the students of Mizzou for ushering in this important moment of change. Without their actions, we as a society would have been stuck in a cycle of intolerance and hate that just might have continued ad infinitum. But thanks to their actions last week, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the end is in sight. America is about to take a turn for the better.

Also, good on them for drawing attention to the lack of honest administrative response to their race issues.

The more important action they took was banding together against the oppressive media incursion and blocking other people’s First Amendment rights in favor of their own. I’m pretty sure that marked the end of this generation’s P.C. cycle.

Everybody gets one. Like volcanoes, some are more volatile and active than others. But my goodness, hasn’t this one been a regular Mauna Loa?

I think the downturn started the first time someone used “trigger warning” in an honest-to-god, un-ironic manner in a college course. Not that things weren’t going to get worse before they got better, but that certainly lit the fuse. The day a student told a professor that it was his desire to go into massive debt that he could complain about the rest of his life in order for the professor to dumb down the curriculum and allow the student to remain the same person at the end of his four-year tour of academia so he could avoid any sort of mental discomfort, we should have collectively sighed and seen the politically correct shitstorm swirling down the road.

That’s the whole point of going to a university. It’s not what you learn there. A four-year degree is something you earn so you can show people you can handle difficult material and then actually start learning something you want to use. Very few people I know gained anything from their college courses that came close to staying in their brains once they started professional life and began really learning how to do something useful. But college challenges you with the awful truth of the world around us. That’s why we send young people there. “Hey, look at this awful shit. We haven’t really found a way to deal with it effectively. Can you offer a fresh perspective?”

For years now, this generation has been squeezing its eyes shut to uncomfortable material and then begging authorities to clamp their hands over them every time there’s a possibility they might learn something about themselves or the world they live in.

Life isn’t clean and safe. Chickens are pumped full of hormones to lay eggs like crazy or grow ridiculous breasts before having their throats slit in the millions by a robot. Cows are fed the nutritional equivalent of candy bars for months to fatten them up before they get knocked out and sawed to pieces with heavy equipment. Potatoes and corn are grown in vast, pesticide-coated square miles of otherwise dead land that would kill any infant dumb enough to wander into it. And that’s just to get lunch into your oblivious, oversensitive ass.

For years now, this generation has been squeezing its eyes shut to uncomfortable material and then begging authorities to clamp their hands over them every time there’s a possibility they might learn something about themselves or the world they live in. Life isn’t all pleasant, but it has to be dealt with.

Not that the past decade hasn’t been awesome for marginalized portions of society. I never thought I’d see the day I’d get to preside over a legal gay marriage in the state of Louisiana. Thanks to this generation’s balls-out insistence that the government pay attention to the humans in this country who aren’t busy making babies, I soon will be.

But successful activism does have a downside. It comes when people get confused about what activism is for. It’s not about making bad things just go away so you don’t have to look at them. Positive activism raises awareness in all the people not willing to fight for something so that the rest of us stand up and say “Enough. We have to work to stop this.”

The Mizzou students and football players got that. Then they got a little more. Then they got high on their own power and violated the First Amendment by dictating what the press could document.

Now the bubble has burst. Yes, apologies were made, but it’s too late. The idea of a safe space got burnt and stank up the concept. It didn’t help that they ironically staked out the university quad (one of the oldest bastions of free speech) and blocked press access.

People get confused about what activism is for. It’s not about making bad things just go away so you don’t have to look at them.

In their defense, that was in response to an actual problem. Perhaps we could allow this cycle to continue for a little while longer once the events leading up to the protests were re-analyzed. Honest-to-god hate speech, threats of violence, and a swastika in feces on a residence hall is no question something that should have been dealt with swiftly and powerfully by the administration. The students were right to be pissed.

Unfortunately, something else happened last week: the Starbucks Christmas cup controversy.

Here’s what occurred: One turd (who has since proved himself utterly insane in multiple forums) posted a video, going off on how Starbucks’ red holiday cups were part of the nonexistent war on Christmas. Then several conservative nutjobs took up the cry, because they know it’s the kind of thing people love calling in to talk radio shows about. Then Facebook went apeshit with people going off about how stupid the cups thing was and how it has nothing to do with Christmas.

I saw no one on my feed (which has quite a few militant conservatives) going off about Starbucks’ war on Christmas. No one else did, either. They just saw rants about it being a thing and joined in.

We’re too ready to fight everything just to prove that we have an opinion about it. It’s a McCarthyist response when we call out our neighbor’s possible racism or homophobia or casual disregard for anyone by whom he might feel threatened or, god forbid, uncomfortable for five seconds, just so no one will think we might feel that way and throw us to the lions of social media. We’ve seen people’s lives ruined because of nonchalant posts on Twitter or Facebook that were seized upon by the self-righteous and shared to the horizon of public opinion.

That’s how I know it’s about to get good again. The backlash will be swift and hilarious.

Like, really hilarious. I know because Cracked.com and Buzzfeed, which both used to specialize in funny lists, now post lists about how awful you are for being a straight white male, or a straight anybody, or a gay anybody who is cisgender, or for thinking that Caitlyn Jenner is still an asshole who you could give a shit about, or for being a person who thinks it’s not worth screaming your lungs out every time anyone anywhere is slighted in any way.

I’m sorry so many young people lost the opportunity to enjoy their youth in favor of being angry and scared of the world.

Comedy is dying in the quicksand of political correctness. That’s how I know it’s about to get better. Comedians are always the ones to step up and tell society to get back its sense of humor. “Laugh at yourself, or we’re all screwed!”

It happened with court jesters, who could make fun of the king to keep him humble.

It happened in the ’60s after the hippies had flower-powered everyone into submission and the Smothers Brothers fought humorless censorship to the point where they lost their jobs. That was a wave that gave us Flip Wilson, Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and the decent years of Saturday Night Live.

Then comedy overstepped into goofy without heart. SNL sucked, and the ’80s gave us An Evening at the Improv on A&E, where anyone was a comic. It’s no coincidence that society started overindulging in causes. And Tipper Gore went in front of Congress to fight the evils of AC/DC, Cindy Lauper, and Twisted Sister. And we paid attention to Newt Gingrich.

Then we got In Living Color. We got Bill Hicks and Denis Leary doing some of Bill Hicks’ best stuff. The Farrelly brothers actually made a couple of funny movies. The Daily Show got Jon Stewart, who in turn gave us Louis Black and a herd of comedians with something to actually say. South Park said “shit” hundreds of times on network television, and I lost my mind. We got to laugh again.

Then we forgot again.

I’m sorry so many young people lost the opportunity to enjoy their youth in favor of being angry and scared of the world. It’s too late for a lot of them.

But to those who are unwilling to be challenged, who believe that not hating everything that makes fun of the differences between us is a sign of weakness or complacence, who feel that the only way to be heard is to scream in the face of dissenting opinion, all I can say is this: Keep it up, you humorless fucks. The generation behind you is going to be hilarious.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Knick Moore

Knick Moore hasn't been a smoker since 2007. However, this picture is just too stylish to replace.

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