Friday, September 02, 2005

Conditioned Acceptance of the Unacceptable

Blue Girl, related an incident from her life in the world of advertising in response to my “Last Plane Out” post of 25-Aug-2005, which told of an encounter between The Viscount and a self-proclaimed Intolerant Christian.

She wrote:

"I was at a meeting Tuesday and had to present ideas for a TV commercial. The CEO of the company liked one way more than the other -- but he didn't put it that way. He stood up and said he "really, really hated" the one idea. (There were maybe 20 people in the conference room)I said -- Jeez Ron! HATE? You HATE it? That's pretty strong language to describe an idea! C'mon now, HATE?And he goes, "ok. I don't hate it. There are some thing's I really hate. Like Muslims and liberals. When I compare those two to your idea -- I now take it back. I don't hate it so much!"Well. There was some nervous laughter -- and then we moved on quickly."

How did we get here? Since when was it acceptable to proclaim hatred of literally millions of people openly, proudly and happily? I read that story, and I wasn’t surprised. Admit it. None of us are surprised when we are subjected to this sort of talk. If someone said in a business meeting, “Ok. I don’t hate it. There are some things I really hate like Jews and African Americans…” then we would be surprised. Outraged. How was Blue’s experience different?

The Republican Conservative movement has engaged in a concerted effort to demonize entire groups of people in order to achieve their agenda: The establishment of a Plutocracy in the USA. Liberals are an enemy of that agenda. We believe as Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers’ believed: Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Liberals understand that in order to solve any problem, first we must find out the truth. We hold the truth above any agenda. Conservatives seek their agenda with no regard to the truth. They have bombarded the airwaves with mantras of hatred against their enemies and it effects all of us. Deeply.

I have to fight my own demons in order to not succumb to their efforts. Watching the World Trade Center towers crumble incited feelings of bigotry against “those people,” as if “they all were responsible.” I have to force myself to be rational, to understand that an entire group of people should never be labeled and held responsible for the deeds of a few. We all must do this. We cannot let them condition us to accept the unacceptable.

I strongly want to remind everyone to visit the excellent Media Matters page on a daily basis so we can be armed with the truth when someone repeats their fabrications.

I don’t fault Blue Girl in the above situation. I wouldn’t have done anything differently. It is very hard when our livelihood becomes intertwined with politics. Indeed, in ’03 I was reported to HR for speaking out openly against Bush and the war in the office. HR actually apologized to me and said that I did nothing wrong. They just wanted to alert me to the fact that someone had complained. Interesting that some people who claim to be patriotic are actually patently un-American in their actions.

I have not been silent in social situations. I must be a crashing bore, but I don’t care. I know when I start talking about election fraud, corporate ownership of the media and the shifting of the tax burden downward, these things I speak of to the uniformed sound like the rantings of a paranoid suffering from conspiracy theory delusions. Still, yesterday’s rantings of yellow cake, Valerie Plame, fabrications of evidence to justify a war have all become today’s news, so maybe some of them remember that they heard it from The Viscount first.

Please welcome Calidem and her blog Nite Swimming as a new friend of The Viscount.
Portrait of Blue Girl courtesy of Neil Shakespeare.


Anonymous blue girl said...

Great Post Al...

"There are some things I really hate like Jews and African Americans…”

I've actually been in conversations much like this also -- I normally just reply with an "oh my God -- stop it!"

There are so many things about this guy -- this client -- that if I told you -- your head would spin like Linda Blair and explode! He never ceases to amaze me with the words that come out of his mouth. And his utter unethical behavior.

Here's the way I've learned to look at my little business:

Most clients I deal with are small to mid-size business owners and for the most part they are all Pro-Bush, very Republican and very outspoken -- I make my arguments to them when I feel it's appropriate -- or when I have the energy -- (sometimes I don't like shouting into a black hole) --

But, more than anything else -- I love taking their money. I try to get as much as I can. Not from a sheer greed standpoint -- but, I figure it's what gets them the most.

Get 'em where it'll hurt the most.

"Nite Swimming" is a great blog...

9:36 AM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

I should've also added:

I believe this guy is gonna get what's coming to him. I really do. His business is so mismanaged and their behavior is so unethical -- I predict bankruptcy within a year...

I really believe what goes around comes around -- he'll get his.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Forget work - I have these conversations with my family!

Well, actually I avoid having these conversations because I know that anybody, at work or home, whose world view is shaped by Fox News is not going to listen to what I have to say. Like BG says, it's shouting into a black hole...

10:43 AM  
Blogger Simon said...

As I'm getting older and care less about what other people think of me, I found the thing to do is *call them on their bullshit*. People's intolerance is *allowed* by us.

There's an old REM quote from the song 'Begin the Begin' i've always liked.

"Silence means security
Silence means approval"

If someone is saying something patently offensive, speak up, and make them feel like an idiot for saying so. Most people probably don't agree with their point of view in a group situation, but are simply laughing along because they're too scared to speak up.

I'm pretty sure my contract in the public service wasn't renewed directly due to two events.

One of my old schoolteachers was in a position of power over me, and I was listening to him rant about the asylum seekers from the Asian countries who come over to Australia in overcrowded, unsafe boats being jailed and how they should all be 'thrown back in the ocean to drown', because he didn't want his tax dollars letting them live in comfort, (in what basically amounts to prison conditions).

The office staff laugh around him.

I stew for a second over this, then blurt out: "You should be thankful everyday that you've never been so desperate to escape oppression that you'd endanger your own life and brave conditions like that to simply give your children the hope for a better one".

I can't believe i'm that direct. Nervous silence. Then he suddenly changes the subject to the football.

The less I learn is one of emapthy. Focus on our shared *humanity* to attack their stupid arguments.

Another time he was ranting on and on about single mothers and how they should all be sterilised to stop breeding. (No mention of castration for the guys who knock these girls up and abandon their responsibilites mind you).

I know a direct attack will be useless. So i use a 'jokey' tone, bringing up Sir Francis Galton, Eugenics, Hitler, and the compulsory sterilsation against of the mentally retarded without their knowledge or consent that happened in America as late as the 1960's, and end with, "So you're basically agreeing with their way of thinking? Ha! You crack me up mate!"

I know he's a wealthy old white man, and secretly he's saying "yes" inside, but to save face in front of the rest of the office he says "No, of course not" and tries to make out he was only joking. Right - A ranting, face reddening joke.

By making it *seem* that I was interpreting his rant as a joke, I pointed out the inherent stupidity of what he was saying. This gives him the easy chance to 'take it back' and 'save face'. And you know what? A coward always take the easy option when you offer it to them.

Later on one of the older women takes me to one side and quietly tells me how she fell pregnant out of wedlock in the 70's to a man who said he loved her, then abandoned her when he found out about the baby. She thanks me for saying *something*, for she was still too ashamed over the incident to say anything.

My contract isn't renewed. I'm sure he was the main voice against me.

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught
(Rodgers and Hammerstein)

You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be carefully taught

4:44 PM  
Blogger joebftsplk said...

This is just to thank you for your recent posting of Dylan and Lennon. I'm grateful {and Grateful} that someone as articulate as you are remembers this stuff and reminds us. There's more Dylan that's relevant, too

6:39 PM  
Blogger cali said...

Interesting post. You go about your life mostly thinking that for the most part, people are basically OK. And, then someone blurts out something vile. To me, it feels like I've been sucker-punched. It's shocking and knocks all the air out of you for a moment or two.

off-topic: thanks so much for your encouragement and support for my newbie blog.

10:12 PM  
Blogger cali said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:13 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

BG - I agree - that guy has some karma coming his way soon.

Kev - I feel your pain. Family, friends, people in the next booth at the restaurant. Even when you don't say anything, it resonates in your head.

Great rant to day by the way at your place.

HFR - As always, thanks for personal perspective.

volney - I appreciate your interest. Music is very important to me and many of my posts are prompted by the important music of my life, including Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

Calidem - Your blog is cool, and remember - "Nothing is off topic at The Viscount's!"

10:47 PM  

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