Being politically correct or PC as it is known, has never been one of my better attributes. Offending people with what can be charitably termed an offbeat sense of humor, has often made me struggle badly in mixed company. For instance,
Last week at a cocktail party, I told the tale of a guy whose wife sent him to the drug store to buy “some of those things” to make him perform better. Upon his return from the pharmacy this fellow was confused why his wife threw him out of the house after he handed her some diet pills.
“This is not funny Richard, you are making fun of overweight people,” I was told. “These individuals are suffering from a disease. They are victims. You’re an emotionally bankrupt chump.”
Incidents such as this tend to make me gun shy. It is so easy these days to offend people, even if one does not intentionally try to do so. Case in point is a liberal acquaintance Polyanna, who, despite my diverse group of friends of “Heinz 57″ origin, thinks I am a racist because of holding conservative political views. In addition, she considers me a sexist by virtue of a vocabulary which is not PC enough.
The other day when innocently remarking to Polyanna about planting Early Girl tomatoes in my vegetable garden, I was immediately reprimanded for offending women. The word girl apparently is not appropriate in polite conversation anymore unless one is referring to a child or a grandmotherly type.
To make things worse, I later got in more trouble when mentioning it was my intention to make a run over to “Fresh and Easy” to score some chicken. After ducking the paperweight that was thrown in my direction, I reasoned it would be best for me to re-educate myself rather than risking further difficulties with the PC crowd.
Even President Obama got in trouble with this group when he recently remarked that California Attorney General Kamala Harris is the most attractive lady holding the office in the USA. There was so much outrage about this seemingly harmless comment that Obama and his press secretary had to apologize and beg forgiveness the next day.
Things are so touchy that even basic colors can be controversial. I have learned from bitter experience that it offends certain individuals if one is critical of anything brown, black, or green. Even yellow is out if it refers to skin color. Rainbows can also be controversial unless they are somehow connected with Seasame Street or a certain coalition. Purple is OK but it is best to use this color in reference to Barney the Dinosaur. The only thing I know for certain is, that when in doubt, trash anything that is white.
Sports team mascots are not immune from wrath from PC world. For several years the Washington Redskins have been under attack by Indian rights advocates who feel this name demeans their race. Public outcry has resulted in the Houston Colt 45′s becoming Astros and Stanford Indians transforming into The Cardinal. One wonders when cheerleaders in sexy outfits will be outlawed as they are obviously a sexist activity of the highest order.
Jokes concerning religion, which at one point were considered the mainstay of our culture, are not PC in any form these days. A humorous bit that begins with a meeting of a Baptist minister, Catholic priest, and a Rabbi, is now considered to be a borderline hate crime. Former President Ronald Reagan, who was known for telling these type of stories, were he living today, might be denounced as a bigot.
Of course the big elephant in the closet is the Muslim faith. Any reference made to this group is a serious matter, as evidenced by Islamist mobs being inflamed by a novel by Salmon Rushdie, political cartoons, burning a Koran; or worse, a comedian telling a seemingly harmless joke. Before more information was made available, it was first thought the fatal attack on the American Consulate in Libya was the result of defaming Muslims by American heretics. We are getting to the point where the Adventures of Aladdin is a subject that should be treaded on lightly.
Ethnic jokes, be they Polish, Irish, Jewish, Chukchies (Russian Eskimo’s) etc., are sailing on to dangerous waters. The only way a belittling comment can be made by any nationality or race—while still keeping the PC approved label—is if the comedian is related by blood to this group. In this way, Chris Rock is hilarious if he makes fun of black folks but not so humorous if he jokes about other races.
The biggest area of Non-PC approved humor is dumb people whom we once referred to when I was a kid as being retards. Now these individuals are called “mentally challenged” or perhaps developmentally handicapped. Such people have historically been the subject of humor in punch lines to jokes that entail stupidity. No longer is this the case as our society has become more respectful to those of low IQ.
As a result, other terminology has had to be devised when people are not in the public spotlight. For example, when the movie Borat was released, the eponymous lead character had a dumb brother by the name of Bilo who was the butt of crude humor. At the time many teenagers, who related to this character, used the description of Bilo to describe 800-number types who weren’t quite all there.
In addition to PC guidelines, there are certain taboo subjects that can only bring wrath from those who judge us. Among the topics that should be avoided are global warming/climate change, organic anything, recycling, pro life, and endangered species (especially Republicans in California). It is best to keep conversations with PC sensitive people on the topic of diversity, as long as you are not referring to your hand gun collection.
There is still humor that exists today about sex but once again one has to careful that jokes on this subject are not offensive. It is still OK to make up gags involving cheating on a spouse as long as their ethnicticity, sexual preferences, age, or physical condition are not mentioned. But then again, after the PC check list is taken into account, there may not be much left over to laugh about.
In trying to avoid the wrath of the PC Police. I feel like either attending a 12 step program to cure my potty mouth or pour myself a drink, pop a pill, and smoke a reefer, to ease the pain of not being able to fit in with polite society. Or, as Jimmy Hendrix once said, Excuse me while I kiss the sky. Such is my lot in life.