Racist Drinking Game?

My last blog post was on the subject of political correctness. And I just read an article which I think exemplifies how politically correct our society has become.

The article was from the New York Times. It was called “‘Racist’ Drinking Game Causes Uproar an High School in New Jersey.” The game was a version of beer pong called Jews vs Nazis or Alcoholocaust.

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As you can see, one team has their cups arranged into the shape of a swastika while the other team has theirs in the shape of the Star of David.

One of the kids at the party took a Snapchat of the beer pong table. A classmate of theirs saw the photo on Snapchat, took a screenshot of it, and posted it to her blog.

That blog post went viral. Numerous news sources ran stories about it. It was even made the news in Israel.

The school released a statement about how they intend to speak with all of the students involved and the parents of those students. And the police have started an investigation.

So, were the students involved actually being antisemitic? Or as the New York Times surprisingly called it, racist?

The student who blogged about it certainly thought so, “They must be trapped in the delusional mindset that making a drinking game based off of the Holocaust is cool. Or funny. Or anything besides insane. Because that’s what this is: insanity. I’m not even Jewish and I’m still offended.”

Well, I am Jewish. And I was offended as well. But not by the Alcoholocaust drinking game, which you have to admit is a pretty clever name for it.

I was offended by the way this self-appointed social justice warrior singlehandedly turned her friends stupid drinking game into an international incident.

As the New York Times pointed out, “The high school boys who crowded into a Princeton basement for the game included Jewish students.”

So this shiksa, which a yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman, who wasn’t even invited to the party was offended by what was taking place there. But the Jewish students who were actually there, were not offended.

I think that is insane.

Now I’m not saying that what these kid did was appropriate. But I do think that their biggest offense is the fact that they were drinking while underage.

How antisemitic could they actually be? They invited their Jewish friends to the party and they obviously don’t know what a swastika really looks like since they made theirs backwards.

They aren’t exactly young skinhead Neo-Nazis or members of the Aryan Brotherhood for God’s sake. Let’s just keep things in the proper perspective people.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

 

 

 

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The Problem with Political Correctness

The term political correctness has become sort of a catch phrase for controversial politicians. They use it far too often, usually as some sort of smoke screen for problematic political positions such as opposition to homosexuality or transgenderism.

Pat McCrory,the mayor of North Carolina, a state that recently passed legislation targeting transgender individuals and prohibiting cities from passing non-discrimination ordinances, described the criticism of that controversial piece of legislation as “political correctness gone amuck.” But is it really?

Donald Trump’s controversial comments have become an almost ubiquitous aspect of television news broadcasts ever since he announced he was running for president. And he has frequently used the term political correctness as some sort of shield for the criticism he has received.

So is the term political correctness just an inappropriate attempt to deflect criticism from controversial political decisions, or is there something more to it?

George Carlin was one of the best comedians who ever lived. In his act, he often explored the English language. He took issue with political correctness in the form of euphemisms such as “differently abled” and “minimally exceptional.” He referred to this type of euphemistic language as “verbal slight of hand” and “language which takes the life out of life.” I agree with him.

Bill Maher is another comedian concerned with the increasing amount of political correctness in the country. He took such an issue with it that he named his old television show Politically Incorrect.

On his current television show, Real Time, he often criticizes the liberal obsession with being politically correct. He once said, “lazy liberalism allows scolding to substitute for actually do something.”

Some of our country’s most celebrated comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock are now refusing to perform on college campuses because of the inevitable protests that will take place.

Jerry Seinfeld said, “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist’; ‘That’s sexist’; ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Has our country lost the ability to take a joke?

George Carlin said, “Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people’s language with strict codes and rigid rules. I’m not sure that’s the way to fight discrimination. I’m not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.”

And it isn’t just comedians and politicians who are being effected by political correctness. We are becoming a culture that shames anyone who expresses an opinion, or even makes a joke, that people consider indecent.

Justin Sacco wasn’t a comedian. But when she was boarding a plane on a trip to Africa she made a joke on Twitter that would utterly change her life.

 

Justine Sacco

It was a joke which sarcastically used white privilege as a punch line. It wasn’t a good joke, but it was still just a joke. Unfortunately, it caused quite an uproar.

The New York Times wrote an article about what happened to Justine Sacco. It is rather disturbing how she was targeted by social justice warriors who got her fired from her job before her plane even landed and then harassed her online to the point that it caused her psychological damage.

I’m not defending her sense of humor but perhaps this is a case where it is actually appropriate to say that political correctness has gone amuck. Her punishment seemed disproportionate to her crime, if indeed she even committed a crime.

I don’t think she did. What do you think? Is political correctness a problem? If so, what should we do about it? And are politicians drawing attention to this societal issue or just making the problem worse by using the term political correctness to deflect criticism?

 

Bernie or Bust?

According to a recent McClatchy-Marist poll, 25% of Bernie Sander’s supporters would refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee. This seems insane since there are so many similarities between the political philosophy of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and such a stark difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

There is even an online petition called Revolt Against Plutocracy which has gained over 70,000 signatures from people pledging to vote for the Green Party candidate if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee. Is this some sort of political death pact?

While I would like to see more legitimacy given to third party candidates, I am afraid that this election is far too important to split the Democratic vote. I believe that Bernie Sanders would be a better president than Hillary Clinton, but I also believe that either one of them would be a far better option than anyone running on the Republican side.

Ralph Nader was widely condemned for splitting the Democratic vote during the election of 2000 which gave George Bush the presidency even though Al Gore had won the popular vote. Damn electoral college.

I don’t think that the criticism Ralph Nader received in the aftermath of the election was fair. But it is a fact that if the votes which went to Nader had gone to Gore instead, then Gore would have won the presidency.

I can understand the feeling of disillusionment which can occur when the candidate you prefer is not chosen as the nominee. But to refuse to vote for the person who is chosen even though they share many of the same political views simply because they weren’t the one you wanted is childish.

I can also understand the feeling of frustration at the political establishment and the desire to see a candidate nominated who would fight to change the system. That’s part of the reason why I supported Barack Obama in 2008.

I was disappointed by some of the policy positions he has taken over the years. But I supported him again in 2012 because he it was a choice between him and Mitt Romney.

Even though I didn’t agree with everything Barack Obama had done, I still thought he was the better option.

If Clinton is the nominee. I would vote for her because she would be the better option.

And I like Bernie Sanders far more than I like Hillary Clinton. But if he is not on the ballot, than he is not on the ballot.

I think that the country has a political system which is based upon compromise. A system of checks and balances keeps our government functioning properly, when it’s functioning.

Politics have become so dysfunctional because politicians no longer compromise with one another. And they don’t do it because they know that if they did, it would cause them to lose elections.

One of the most effective criticisms of Chris Christie during the early days of election season was the photo of him hugging president Obama. It happened during Obama’s visit to the Jersey shore after hurricane Sandy.

The man hugged the president in the aftermath of a natural disaster and it was viewed by members of the Republican party as treason. It basically capsized his campaign.

The Republican Party seems to have been slowly splintering apart ever since the Tea Party surge of 2010 when a freshmen class of ideologically driven and uncompromising congressmen came to the capital.

In some ways you could trace the origins of Donald Trump’s campaign back to the start of the Tea Party. In some ways you could trace it back even further.

Now there is a segment of the Republican Party who wants to prevent Donald Trump from receiving their nomination. They think that he is dangerous.

If members of his own party think he is dangerous, he probably is. So let’s hold it together Democrats, now isn’t the time to turn into the Tea Party.

 

 

The Discourse Divide

Politics has become so contentious that violence is increasingly becoming a part of our political debate. But how did it come to this? Surely, it can’t all be blamed on Donald Trump.

It is undeniable that Trump has used incendiary rhetoric while campaigning. His controversial comments have been widely reported and criticized by most main stream media outlets.

However, instead of damaging his campaign, his comments have only increased his poll numbers. He once bragged, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Controversial comments like this typically capsize campaigns, so how could courting controversy increase Donald Trump’s support?

To better understand this, it is important to consider the discourse divide between the liberal left and conservative right.

When I say discourse divide, I am referring to the way that the country’s political discourse has increasingly become less of a debate between the two political parties and more like two separate conversations simultaneously being conducted within the rigid confines of those political parties.

Even when discussing the same issue, liberals and conservatives use terms which don’t seem to line up with one another. Take the abortion debate for example, by using the terms pro-life and pro-choice, the issue becomes convoluted. Would anyone say that they are anti-life or anti-choice? Of course not. And is life the opposite of choice? Of course not.

This type of political messaging has caused the base of each party to become more ideological and less compromising. And political messaging has become an industry.

The carefully crafted rhetoric used by politicians has become so focus group oriented that it seems more like manipulation than messaging.

Consultants like Frank Luntz have,”forever redefined the way public policy issues will be framed,” as his website points out, “It’s not what you say. It’s what they hear.”

So what do people hear when Donald Trump makes controversial comments? They hear what they want to hear.

The Washington Post has accused Trump of using racially coded language. Perhaps that’s why he has earned the endorsement of several white supremacist groups. But his supporters insist that he is not a racist.

His controversial comments have gained him a lot of support, but there is an anti-Trump movement within the Republican Party.

I think that the discourse divide is almost like a wedge has been driven between the two political parties and Donald Trump snuck in through the gap.

So is this damaging the country? Appellate judge Charles W. Pickering once said, “A healthy democracy requires a decent society; it requires that we are honorable, generous, tolerant and respectful.” So, the answer is yes. Yes, it is.