Looking back over the week’s writing to think about my round-up, I was immediately drawn to Wednesday’s post on offensive language. There are, I think, ideas here worth exploring. I started with the principle:
You do not get to decide whether I should be offended by something you do or say; you only get to decide whether you care.
Then I explored some examples of how this plays out. I think it’s vitally important, though, to consider some followup rules. One I’m dealing with just now involves this principle – if someone apologizes, try to accept it. I want to lower the stakes on communication about offensive discourse. I really do believe that representation matters in how we shape our reality. Reality and representation have a dialectical relationship – I’m focused on disability and gender, on this blog, but these issues extend much more broadly and get tied up in the most crucial power politics and policies of our era. Representation matters.
But then if we want to shape representation, lowering the stakes in one to one communication makes it easier. If you can just say, “hey, that bothered me,” and the other person can say, “oops, sorry” and have that genuinely end an issue, that’s a win for everybody. Calling something out is a risk and we owe it to those brave enough to confront offensive language to lower the stakes. Let people express their reactions. Apologizing and trying to correct the situation is also a risk and we owe it to those brave enough to apologize to lower the stakes, so that doing so doesn’t raise questions about the quality of the self and one’s moral compass, but just becomes an “oops” and a chance to do better next time.
Here’s the roundup.
- Sunday – Masculinity and bullying through the lens of the NFL, with a very sophisticated quote from Bears’ receiver Brandon Marshall.
- Monday – Life/work challenges: Be good to yourself as parents. Let yourselves NOT be good parents.
- Tuesday – The Continued Franciscan Revolution: I commented on Pope Francis’ response to the “Bishop of Bling” and what it might mean for the hierarchy as a shot across the bow.
- Wednesday – On offensive language, with examples from the Washington NFL team, Barilla pasta, Chuck Klosterman, and WaPo columnist Richard Cohen.
- Thursday I went to Virginia Tech, and left a little note about history and why I study what I study.
- Friday I just used my blog to post some links which I used to have a discussion with undergrads at Virginia Tech.
- On Saturday I talked about my conversation with those wonderful students. This post talks both about my message and the experiment with intentional community making there.
Have a great day! I’ve got a few hours to rake before the rains return.