Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yes, She Should Be Forgiven??

When the Paula Deen story first appeared I must admit I was angry (for those of you who may have just awakened from a coma, celebrity chef Ms. Deen has been vilified for admitting in a court deposition that at some point in her life she used a racial epithet).

No, I’m not mad at Paula. All she did was tell the truth. As a fellow Southerner of a similar age I know that times were very different in our younger days. Back then calling a black person a nigger—oh, please, can we dispense with this political/social correctness “N-word” malarkey?—was completely normal. Brazil nuts had no other name but “nigger toes” when I was a child.

I’m not saying any of this was right, but I honestly wasn’t raised to think of the word in a derogatory sense. That’s just the way it was, and what things and certain people were called. And I grew up in Atlanta, not some rural hillbilly town without a red light.

But the point is not about whether Ms. Deen uttered the word 30 years ago or yesterday. Our Founding Fathers thought that freedom of speech was important enough to include it in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Remember the Constitution? It’s that quaint document upon which our once great nation was founded, now regularly trampled on by the courts and government.

When I first read about this “racial slur scandal,” as it’s being termed in the mainstream media, I remembered a skit Dave Chappelle, a black comedian, did on his TV show way back in 2004 called “The Niggar Family.” It’s a spoof of a Leave It to Beaver white family with an interesting last name that trots out every racial cliché and stereotype imaginable.

I found the skit on YouTube. Re-watching it made me think, “H-m-m-m, Dave Chappelle’s career certainly wasn’t destroyed by this.” I imagine a lot of his audience found the piece hilarious and admiringly thought, “The stuff that guy says and gets away with------.”

Consider the hypocrisy, and think about the shitstorm of trouble Ms. Deen finds herself in as she continues to be dumped by one gutless sponsor after another.

What in the hell has happened to our country? I’m sad that such obvious double standards are somehow OK in modern society. Just why is it acceptable for this person or group to say something and so horribly wrong for someone else to say the exact same thing?

Freedom of speech? Fuggitabowdit.

A former President disgraced the nation’s highest office when he got a blow job in the White House then lied through his teeth about it. Now all is forgiven and he’s a revered statesman.

Paula Deen used a word that blacks often call themselves, admitted it, and her life is ruined.

I’m disappointed that our citizens have become so spineless and apathetic that they put up with this kind of nonsense. Put up with it? Apparently, since this non-story refuses to die, the public is actually enjoying watching a decent woman being crucified in the press. “Oh, look, she’s crying. What BS—she’s just trying to save her ass. Ha-ha-ha---.”

Let me ask you-- who hasn’t said something in their life that they regret?

OK, now I’m mad again. I just saw a USA Today poll. The affirmative response is, “Yes, she should be forgiven.”


Forgiven for what? And by whom?

Paula, you told the truth when a lot of weaker people would have lied. You’re now being unfairly persecuted by a horde of bloodthirsty, “holier-than-thou” jackals whose lives and reputations would probably wilt under the same spotlight of scrutiny to which you are being subjected.

I’m behind you all the way, sister.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Too Much Time on Their Hands

People often wonder what expats do all day long. Well, one thing we like to do is chat. Over long, leisurely lunches—at the home of friends—bumping into each other on the street—chatting is one of our favorite pastimes.

And especially on forums. The Facebook Ecuador Expats forum is the most vigorous gabfest I’ve ever seen. As an experiment I recently posted an innocuous comment about dogs barking on both my personal newsfeed and the EE forum. The personal one got 3 “likes” and 3 comments; EE rang in with 27 “likes” and 50 comments! Holy moley!

One of the hottest topics buzzing around Cuenca lately has been about Obnoxious Gringos/Ugly Americans. The ball got rolling with the publication of an anonymous article (although anonymity is somewhat moot when everyone knows the author’s identity).

The article lambasted Obnoxious Gringos (or “OG’s”), and proposed the formation of a secret society called the Behavior Modification Group to publicly correct all instances of improper behavior.

I have no idea whether this was serious or an attempt at a joke. If the latter, I personally find the notion of a fascist vigilante organization roaming the streets of Cuenca to be utterly humorless.

Then a blogger created an Ugly American self-test and followed this up with a recent appearance on a local radio show. Then a survey about culturally-challenged foreigners came out on GringoTree, an online community bulletin board.


I responded to the survey stating that in three years living here I’ve never witnessed a single instance of expats displaying offensive behavior. Based on other responders therein lies the challenge with this entire topic.

It seems that in spite of all the chatter no one has actually seen any of this going on. Not that it has never happened, but one can surmise that the subject has been blown WAY out of proportion.

If so, why? Some gringos around here seem to have as their theme song an old Styx tune---“Too Much Time on My Hands.” They apparently have so little to do that they find enjoyment in talking about other people or groups and what they should or should not be doing.

Translated, this of course infers, “according to my values.” And who really is in a position to pass such judgment?

OG’s apparently are going around saying things like, “Why don’t these people speak English?” and “I hate that these people are always late!” While such statements, if uttered, are ludicrous beyond comment, I have a question:

What’s the difference between gringos telling locals what to do and gringos telling other gringos what to do? Are these not two sides of the same coin called “self-righteousness?”

It’s sad that the focus on such a non-topic minimizes the outstanding volunteer work being done by so many expats in local orphanages, schools, and hospitals. Untold time, energy, and money are being freely given to our community by retirees out of the goodness of their hearts.

Is it possible that we can quit looking for and talking about what’s wrong and concentrate on all the wonderful aspects of our life here?

For as Dr. Wayne Dyer so correctly states, “It’s never polite to ‘should’ on other people.”