Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Maturity vs. Comfort

Fellow Sandlapper (that's "South Carolinian" for the unfamiliar) and former Pelion resident (also in South Carolina...a kind of inside joke), Michael Graham has an excellant essay in this weeks episode of his column, Charleston "The Usual Suspects".
According to Graham, a large segment of the population believes that it has to be protected from anything contrary. I get upset at the mere mention of God, nooooo problem. I go running to court and get an injunction. I read something I disagree, I begin a campaign to have the offending writer fired. It works at Colorado University, unless of course you are Ward Churchill then you seem to be safe.
Just in case the link provided above is one those that changes with the week, here is the column in its entirety:

The Usual Suspects
by Michael Graham

No Pain, No Brain

According to testimony before the U.S. Supreme Court, there are American citizens who live in constant fear of sentences.

Not the “20-to-life with a large, sweaty and overly friendly cellmate” kind, but rather the “noun/verb” type. Specifically, the 10 sentences reportedly brought down from the mount by Moses those many years ago are so intimidating, so disturbing, so fearsome that otherwise healthy adults cannot walk past them in a public park without feeling threatened.

So the Ten Command-ments have to go.

For evangelical Christ-ians, this story is about religious freedom. But for me, this is just another story of life in our wussy nation.

As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy asked the ACLU attorney in this case, why can’t a citizen offended by the Ten Commandments merely avert his eyes? Too late, came the reply. The damage has already been done.

What damage? Well, if you were harboring graven images or coveting your neighbor’s ox, you wouldn’t be asking that question. I’m prepared to accept the premise that the Ten Commandments actually do, for whatever reason, make some people feel uncomfortable.

The key question is: So what?

In Kentucky last week, a high school senior was arrested and (as of this writing) remains in jail for writing in his personal journal, at home, in his own bedroom, a scary story involving zombies overrunning a high school. His grandparents found it and felt “disturbed” by it. So they gave it to the police, who were also “disturbed.” So 18-year-old William Poole sits in jail, having committed the crime of “disturbing” people.

Could it be that Poole was right, that mindless zombies have taken over his small, Kentucky town? Well, the “mindless” part seems to be on point.

I’m no fan of Jada Pinkett Smith, and I have no idea why Harvard University would be honoring her (didn’t they see Matrix: Reloaded?) When she appeared on campus, Smith told the students: “Women, you can have it all — a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career … You can do whatever it is you want.”

I know what you’re thinking. Pretty strong words, right?

Too strong for Harvard, where some students with the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance found the comments hurtful. Why? “Some of the content was extremely heteronormative, and made BGLTSA members feel uncomfortable,” a spokesman said.

So much for straight talk at Harvard U.

There are a thousand stories like these from every corner of America. As I write, there are two public schools near my home shut down after school officials discovered a few drops of mercury on the floor. In one case, naughty chemistry students intentionally dumped two ounces of the stuff as a prank. In the other, a kid accidentally broke a thermometer during class. One thermometer.

Today, the entire school is on lockdown.

Not to play the Grandpa Simpson “back in my day” card, but when I was a kid, we used to play with mercury, rolling it around in our hands. Is there such a thing as mercury poisoning? Of course. Should kids be taking baths in the stuff or sprinkling it on their nachos? Of course not.

But the idea that the miniscule amount of risk that comes with a few drops of mercury should stop the entire education system in its tracks is idiotic. Why shut down the school?

“Some parents felt uncomfortable,” said a school spokesperson.

Uncomfortable. Uncomfortable? What lives of utter comfort these people must enjoy to be discomfited so by the minor travails of life. I don’t know about you, but from the time I stump my toe on the way to my morning shower until I finally help my son finish his last, indecipherable homework problem and shove him into bed, my day is a constant diet of the uncomfortable, difficult, and annoying.

I assume you do what I do. You deal with it. You solve your problems, you pay your bills, you shrug off the inevitable inequities and injustices and try to enjoy your life. And when you run into that insufferable jerk with the offensive T-shirt or the loud-mouthed lady at the cash register that you cannot avoid, you take Justice Kennedy’s advice and avert your eyes.

But here in our wussy nation — where the mere presence of a contrary opinion is an unbearable affront — we can no longer tolerate tolerance. Overreaction and utter panic is the order of the day.

People who fight the “oppression” of a courtroom plaque or the “bigotry” of heteronormative discourse often couch their efforts in the language of the profound. In fact, these are the actions of children. Children whine about the minor pains and scrapes of life. Grown-ups understand that discomfort and suffering are an inescapable part of the deal.

It’s way past time to grow up.

No comments: