I Shouldn’t Be Posting This

A couple of days ago, I started writing something I know will be offensive to many. I no longer care. It will serve the narrative of what I am working on, and good writing should be offensive at times, if only because it may prompt some to think a little harder about the word offensive and the very concept of being offended. Me, I’m getting increasingly offended by people taking offense.
Thirty-five years ago, the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, was portrayed wearing either blackface or a KKK robe and hood (we’re not sure but are certain it is one of the two) in his medical school yearbook.
This was a stupendously idiotic thing to do, whether it reflected a truly racist nature or not. Personally, I hope he was in blackface, as I consider this a lot less offensive than wearing a KKK outfit. To the best of my knowledge, blackface was an entertainment device. The KKK killed people.
The calls for his resignation from office are ringing loud. At issue here is not the governor’s efficacy as a servant of the people, but rather the behavior of a young (and obviously not very bright) male who three-and-a-half decades ago did something moronic. The question is whether his present worth is negated by his past behavior. He did not commit a crime, unless bad taste is one, (and personally, I think it often should be), and neither—to the best of my knowledge—has his back-then costume become a present-day sartorial choice.
Yesterday, a man wearing a Confederate flag hoodie was spotted at American University. This minuscule non-event actually made the paper. The university spokesperson said, “We recognize that the Confederate flag feels threatening to members of our community.” It’s not known if the wearer was or was not a student at AU. I’m thinking that people threatened by a piece of cloth should get a life.
On a more personal and far less important level, a French word I used in a chapter of an upcoming book raised the concern of a person or two at a recent writers’ meeting. The word was nigaud, an old-fashioned expression meaning dummy. Nigaud has nothing to do with the other, highly offensive n-word. The two nouns are not of the same language, derivation, or meaning. In fact, in French, nigaud could be considered a term of endearment used when someone cared-for does something silly.
What I am curious about is this: Should poor past behavior, particularly if it is not repeated, be used to judge and sentence individuals? In law, there are statutes of limitation; in behavior, there seems not to be.
Here’s what I think. The President of this lovely nation is a boor, far worse than a nigaud, a racist, an anti-Semite, a bully, a male chauvinist, a sexual abuser and misogynist whose very existence threatens the peace of the world. We feel guilty for having elected him, so now we have to demonstrate that though we can’t do a damned thing about POTUS’s actions, we can take to task others whose behaviors are faintly similar. This makes us feel good, as if we are doing something constructive and can post our politically correct reactions on Facebook. Yay for us, but let’s face it, this is total BS. Really.
Ah, going back to Paragraph One of my diatribe.
When I was a kid, I attended a French lycée that by today’s standards would seem quite contemporary. Everyone spoke French and we had various nationalities and races. There were Parisian kids, African kids, Vietnamese kids, Middle-Eastern kids and kids from Canada and Suriname.
Into this mix one day arrived 16-year-old Cameroonian twins who told us, proudly, that they were cannibals. This was complete nonsense, and we all knew it, but still, it was scary and made some people uncomfortable. I was neither frightened nor philosophically bothered, but I was fascinated. I got to know the two boys and in time discovered that one, they liked to cause a stir, and two, their anthropophagic claims really upset their parents, which was largely the intent. The boys left the school after a year when their diplomat father became a professor at the University of Yaoundé. I have no idea what became of them or if they stuck to their cannibalistic story.
I’m writing about the Cameroonian twins because I don’t believe in revisionism, particularly of my own history. Plus, I think it’s actually a pretty funny tale, and as Bette Midler once famously said, “F*ck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”
Oh, wait. That’s an offensive thing to say…

About epiphanettes

Writer, songcrafter, possibly the best French pedal steel guitarist in Virginia.
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1 Response to I Shouldn’t Be Posting This

  1. You already know: is it gratuitous offense, or does it drive the narrative? Carry the **** on.

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