Michael Smerconish | Muzzed - to within an inch of our lives
Note: If anything I'm about to say is offensive, send a note to the "bald-headed putz" at the Daily News, and I promise not to be upset.
Feb. 02, 2006
It's what we've become. After being continually schooled to walk and talk and act like automatons, it's working.
Everybody is so afraid of offending that we're sacrificing our individualism and truth. And it threatens our ability to win the war on terror. Consider:
Bill Scranton's campaign manager said that in the GOP race for governor, "the rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann." Nobody blinked when the guy got fired because a stupid comment that uses a racial term is assumed to be racist, even when the statement carries no racist meaning.
Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Santorum is demanding an apology from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid because Reid said having Santorum "talk about reform is like John Gotti talking about doing something about organized crime." It's being spun as a slur against Italians, namely Santorum.
These incidents came just after a prominent city lawyer, Carl Singley, who happens to be African-American, lost a reverse-discrimination case and, in the heat of defeat, called white jurors a bunch of "crackers."
I think Scranton's campaign manager (Jim Seif), Harry Reid and Carl Singley each said something boneheaded, not biased. But I'm not surprised how their statements were spun. We are now surrounded by such "injustice." (Recall the cheesesteak joint that thrived for decades until a young Asian woman made a stink because it was called "Chink's"?)
Every day, somebody is outraged over words or nonviolent actions. People get fired, lawsuits are filed, and the muzzle of political correctness gets tightened to the point that truth is sacrificed. This makes people reluctant to speak out in circumstances where they should.
Look what just happened in New Jersey. Gov. Corzine made Zulima Farber the highest law- enforcement officer in the state, despite her multiple speeding tickets and corresponding bench warrants. But shhh. We don't want to offend Hispanics or women or Hispanic women, by saying so. If someone were to criticize Corzine for "putting that Hispanic woman in the AG office," you bet there would be a firestorm.
That's how it works.
The victimhood culture is destructive. It doesn't attack real racism. To the contrary, it creates a boy-who-cried-wolf presumption any time racism is alleged. There are so many bogus complaints that when something is really harmful, in private, people don't take it seriously.
This is the context in which to view the Scranton flap.
From what I can see, his campaign manager, Seif, made a clumsy attempt at explaining that, between Scranton and Swann, Swann is actually the insider, the country-clubber, the establishment guy. How did he try to make the point? By reversing their races. The mere mention of race caused a problem.
Never mind that people celebrated Bill Clinton as "the first black president." And am I the only one who noticed that when the Daily News put the Scranton flap on the front cover, it depicted both Scranton and Swann as the faces of playing cards?
Scranton was the ace of clubs and Swann was the ace of hearts. You sure knew which card would not be assigned to Swann, for if it had been a different ace, the DN would be apologizing like the time it did after printing accurate mug shots on its cover. That was another example of what I'm talking about.
There was a time when telling an inappropriate joke might get you slapped. Or the finger. Today, it gets you fired - and sued.
We want everybody happy. Everybody equal. Everybody looking, acting and talking the same, and those who dare to be different will be damned. In short, we have become a society that is trigger-happy to be offended, and unyielding in opposition to anyone who, at any time, says or does something that might be street-smart, but runs contrary to these touchy-feely norms.
It would be one thing if this mushroom cloud of sensitivity were only corroding our domestic lifestyle. My fear is that there is more at stake.
That mind-set has extended to the war on terror. They kill innocent people - while we try to get the job done without causing offense. We put our tails between our legs on Abu Ghraib instead of simply saying, Hey, it was a half-dozen dopes out of 140,000;
we're sorry, now give it a rest. We search 80-year-old blue-haired ladies just like young Arab males because no one has the stones to say, Sorry, fellows, but you resemble people trying to murder us - again - so we have to take a few precautions.
We're gutless. Radical Islam decapitates while we get criticized for playing Christina Aguilera music too loud for detainees.
People need to be freed from this bondage and lead their lives as individuals, sometimes stupid individuals. That means speaking out, acting out, joking aloud and rubbing others the wrong way in the process.
Our lives may depend on it.
She must be VERY qualified