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Give thanks! 

Thanksgiving isn’t just a time to watch football, argue with relatives, and with gluttonous abandon shove food in our faces. It’s also a time to celebrate the genocide of Native American populations. Wait, no. That’s not right. It’s also a time when we ponder our many blessings, which is easier if you forget that we’re still at war, our country’s racist as hell, and terrorists want to post YouTube videos of our beheadings.

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Yep, set that stuff aside and we’ve got much to be grateful for, like living in a country where free speech is the law of the land. I get to say what I want. You get to say what you want. And we both get to live with the consequences. That’s America, baby!

You know who else has free speech rights? Letter writer Hershel Parker, for starters, who read Editor Camillia Lanham and Arts Editor Ryah Cooley’s Suffragette film review in last week’s issue and decided that since they’d given “away all the surprising moments” in the historical drama, they should be fired. By me. 

Like snap, “I’ve got the power!”

Mr. Parker, sir, you are correct. When you see a film about something that’s already happened, like women fighting for and winning the right to vote, the last thing you want to read is a review from two broads who think their 95-year-old voting right equates to a right to reveal that Maud burns a serial molester’s hand with a hot iron. Spoiler alert! Lanham and Cooley are total monsters! Clearly giving dames the right to vote has turned them into power-mad harpies. And Mr. Parker has every right to demand their heads on metaphorical pikes!

Yes, New Times Media Group clearly believes in free speech, which is why New Times sister paper, the Sun, gave climate change denier Larry Bargenquast a chance to explain why he believes climate change is a myth (“Man-made climate change is a myth,” Nov. 19) It’s a plot, see? If the lib-tards can convince everyone the sky is falling, they can tax everything that’s carbon-related, giving them “more money and power than anything since the Magna Carta,” which seems weird since the Magna Carta diffused rather than consolidated power, but oh well. Details.

Of course, that’s not the only weird thing in Bargenquast’s commentary. Did you know, for instance, that calling global climate change “the greenhouse effect” is ridiculous because “a greenhouse has a solid, clear cover that traps heat,” and since “gas molecules cannot form surfaces,” heat can’t be trapped in our gaseous atmosphere? Um, that’d be absolutely true except for gravity, which holds our atmosphere to our planet, trapping heat. But shhh! Don’t tell Mr. Bargenquast. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for him.

Science deniers like Bargenquast have every right to spout their ill-informed, ignorant opinions, even though they’re dangerous and lead to inaction. Why believe 97 percent of climate scientists who disagree with you when you can cherry-pick a handful of crackpot scientists who confirm your incorrect and scientifically disproven worldview?

Yes, free speech also means living in a world where hypersensitive, politically correct college students can complain about being “uncomfortable” on campus because of racism and perceived micro-aggressions and white chicks wearing “Hot Navajo Squaw” Halloween costumes. Why? Because free speech doesn’t have to be appropriate speech or even reasonable speech, which is why Cal Poly President Jeffery Armstrong and his “leadership team” are trying to figure out how to appear to appease the SLO Solidarity group while protecting free speech, even when it’s hateful or offensive.

SLO Solidarity has every right to make demands that Cal Poly increase diversity, even though using ethnicity in hiring and the college application process was made illegal way back in 1996, meaning Cal Poly can’t do much about the fact that white folks like it here and minorities … not so much. Cal Poly lacks diversity because often when prospective minority students visit, they look around, see mostly white people on campus and in town, and think, “I don’t think I’ll be comfortable here,” and then they apply elsewhere. For achievable diversity, instead of blaming Cal Poly, lobby to re-legalize Affirmative Action.

Obviously Cal Poly should continue to enlighten the racist, homophobic, misogynist, and misanthropic elements within its midst—that’s what education is all about—but we all need to stop believing other people’s free speech rights end as soon as we begin to feel uncomfortable, offended, or angry. 

Yes, sometimes what people say sucks, but it could be worse. Communities around the globe don’t have the right to express their opinions, to hold their government or other institutions accountable, to tell Donald Trump he’s a blowhard with a bad comb-over, or to call President Obama a secret Kenyan Muslim liar and the worst president in American history. 

We do.

Much of the crap that comes out of people’s mouths is ignorant twaddle, but in the immortal words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her biography of Voltaire, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll fight to defend your right to say it.” 

So Happy Thanksgiving, jackasses!  

The Shredder wants you to pass the gravy. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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