Friday, October 22, 2010

How May I Offend You Today?

I woke up to the television report of Juan Williams’ firing by NPR after voicing an opinion on FOX’s “The O’Rielly Factor.”  It is my understanding that this NPR news correspondent turned senior news analyst makes regular appearances on FOX news, which in spite of its “Fair and Balanced” tagline, is known for its general right-wing, conservative political stance. NPR, on the other hand, is a non-profit, member-based media organization, operating on mostly (98%) private donations or non-government sources, and it has a left-leaning, liberal reputation. That Williams maintains objectivity for one organization and voices opinions on another does shine a spotlight on his credibility. And according to the NPR Ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, this was not an isolated incident. Williams was already walking a fine line.

First let me say, I don’t believe Williams’ comment about an underlying fear of Muslims on airplanes dressed in religious garb on its own warranted firing. It was an honest admission and may have voiced a fear shared by many Americans since 9/11; however, I do believe the comment was ill-advised, and it pandered to the O’Reilly audience. In other words, it wasn’t news reporting or analysis, and it really wasn’t even opinion. It was a personal admission that supposedly violated NPR’s code of ethics as it illustrated and may have even promoted a prejudicial stereotype.

“News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues,” said NPR CEO, Vivian Schiller.

If this is truly the case, how and why did NPR tolerate Juan William’s appearances on FOX news in the first place? And why wasn’t he fired for previous statements he’s made publicly? Further, there are other NPR correspondents who voice opinions on other networks. Are they the next to be fired?

It’s amazing to me that there’s anyone left out there with the balls to voice an opinion without being slapped with a politically incorrect label.

My blog is benign politically, for the most part, and that’s because as an independent voter, I abhor partisan politics. That doesn’t mean that I completely refrain from voicing political opinions and that some of my non-political Internet postings have not been offensive to some.

For example, recently I posted a photo of a white male streaker, which I happened to snap during the half time show of the local high school’s homecoming game. I didn’t have my telephoto lens and the runner was clear across the field. So, while I did manage to get a shot of him in frozen motion, in the 5-1/2” x 3-1/2” snapshot, his number-4 shaped figure measured ¾” x ¼” and the only clear anatomical details visible were his bent elbows and his left knee. It’s impossible to make out a nose or whether or not he was wearing a cap—and there was certainly no evidence of genitalia or even butt-crack. Regardless, I received a message indicating that there was concern among the high school faculty that I had posted “naked photos of a minor” on the Internet and it made them uncomfortable. The person who wrote to me didn’t want me to get in trouble, so I said, “thanks for the heads-up” and removed the photo.

Hey, I didn’t know it was a “minor!”

I heard the streaker was caught and there was talk about charging him with far more than an “indecent exposure” rap. It was alleged he’d have to register as a sex offender for his homecoming prank. I don’t know whether or not this is true because frankly, it’s an outrageous a charge and really hard for me to believe. But if it is true, my opinion is that it’s a major injustice to this minor and a gross misinterpretation of the law.

Five minutes after the streaker photo note, I received a comment on another homecoming photo I’d posted, which was of a white girl dressed in costume as a black woman. The comment said this costume was “racially insensitive” and also asked why they didn’t have a black girl play this role. Gotta say, I didn’t see that one coming. So, lest I be responsible for anyone else being offended, I took down that photo too.

I thought back to 20-some years ago when I dressed up as Oprah for Halloween (and Mike was Phil Donohue). I painted my freckly pink skin chocolate brown, wore a dark-haired wig and big earrings. And since Oprah was in one of her heavy phases at the time, I added a pillow to my middle. It was a long time ago and probably before the height of politically correct watchdoggedness, but I don’t remember anyone saying my costume was racially insensitive. I do remember an African-American friend at the party told me I “passed for a sister in every way—except for the blue eyes, baby!”

We’re supposed to go to a Halloween party tomorrow night and I’m sitting here staring at my tall black witch hat. I wonder if wearing it tomorrow might offend supporters of Christine O’Donnell, the republican senate candidate from Delaware who infamously proclaimed in a recent television commercial, “I am not a witch. I’m YOU.”

Hmmmm, I can only imagine how many people were offended by THAT statement—especially in light of her exposed resume misrepresentations and the accusation of her using campaign funds for personal expenses.

I can honestly say it is not my intention to offend anyone by what I write or what pictures I post; however, if you do find me offensive, than all I can suggest is that you get over it and move on. With my fiftieth birthday looming over me like a waning moon and the life lessons I’ve just experienced, I really don’t give a damn.

Bookmark and Share

No comments: