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Sunday, November 6, 2011


     robert rauschenberg, monogram, 1959

Reading Juan Williams' new book, MUZZLED. It's the story of his firing at NPR for not honoring political correctness in his private life. The shame is, it looked bad for NPR and good for Fox. I was glad to read that the two people above him, who both fired him, both were fired for implementing a stupid decision. At least there is that justice in the matter. It sounded to me like a decision that came from fear of losing one's own job, which ultimately happened. Williams' point is that the decision was made from political correctness without considering discussion on the matter. Repeatedly in his writing, he calls on people who disagree with him or with each other to talk about it, get together and exchange thoughts. Since the beginning of the Reagan Revolution's Divide & Conquer policy, we who disagree on any matters are thrown into having nothing to do with each other because we don't agree. Then there's the problem of finding someone who believes the same as I believe. Nobody. If I fail to accept the company of people I don't agree with, who don't agree with me, I end up mighty lonesome. Maybe.

It appears we've reached that place in our artificial separation for political advantage. More lonely in the crowd syndrome. Now we have political correctness for Left leaning and Right leaning. Each one berates the other and, in line with the Republican intent to put the Democrat party out of operation, the repubs viciously keep the dems defending themselves, strategy to render them ineffective. By now political correctness has spread beyond politics into about everything. Friday I was chided for saying, shit happens. There are times that is the only answer. I have to confess, I did not take it kindly. I kept my peace, but it touched something within that matters to me. I watch my language. I don't say things like goddamn and motherfucker and fuck you. I don't even say damn. If I'd said feces occurs, it would have been acceptable, like saying sanitation expert. Political correctness amounts to calling something anything but what it is. Like Juan Williams says, how can you have honest discussion restricted to the bullshit of political correctness? I've seen others dressed down for not being politically correct to the letter, and I've experienced it myself.

I don't want to let it bother me; I try inside myself to let it go. And this came while I'm in the very middle of MUZZLED. It was conversations with about anybody here from the Flatland that inspired me to read the book. Not conversations about political correctness, but restrictions dictated by political correctness. I will not edit my conversation to political correctness. And I will not honor anyone who requires it of me. I'm starting to feel the heat welling up inside. It evidently really pissed me off, because I can feel the heat rising now, making me want to say some hurtful things I don't mean. I'll let that pass, because I only want to say what I mean. Recalling a time a reader said to me of this blog, "You're so honest." My automatic answer, one I heard at the same time she did, "How else can we communicate?" And that is my meaning. If I am restricted to saying only that which is judged politically correct, it's easily taken care of. I don't have to talk. I've lived in the country so long that I'm very happy with silence, happy with solitude. And I will say shit happens whenever I feel like it.

I've spent half my life in these mountains where I have learned the importance of being who you are, or more specifically, being who I am. I am someone who recognizes that sometimes something inexplicable occurs to make a moment into something other than what we might want or expect it to be. Well, shit happens. I'm reminded of Jesse Helms making a big legislation deal over a bumper sticker that said shit happens. Shit happens is a truth and we all know it. In the time of Helms making the public fuss over the word shit, he did nothing more than draw attention to the word a million times more than the people who would ever see it on a bumpersticker. In that time I passed on the interstate a little red Yugo with a wiggling exhaust pipe, an Asian college age guy driving it and a bumper sticker that said, "Helms Happens." I thought it hilarious, but I'm not going to say Helms happens instead of shit happens. I don't like saying his name that much. And when I use the term it's for it's meaning, not to make a joke. Even my mother, as fervent a fundamentalist as you'll ever see, allows herself to say shit and damn.

I'm laughing at myself for getting so excited over so little. Yet at the same time, it hit me in the heart of something that's important to me. I refuse to honor political correctness because of its dishonesty. I refuse to be subject to political correctness. Everyone who expects it of me will be disappointed, the same as everyone in the past who has expected it of me. Oh that's just TJ being TJ. No shit. I will not talk as if I'm on television with people I think of as my friends. Anyone who overhears can think of it what they will, because they will. My alternative: shut up and stay home. I like home an awful lot anyway. And I like not talking. At home I can say all the forbidden words and put on some music from the 1950s like Muddy Waters singing Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. Well, golly gee, what do I listen to then, Pat Boone singing Metallica's greatest hits? Pop music from start to present is about sex. So one comes out and says it. Where's the big deal? Don't do as I do, do as I say; I have a feeling this is the issue here. It smelled an awful lot like it came from a woven nest of control issues. In fact, that's how I took it at first, until I recognized that political correctness is about control, and this wasn't the first time. I can't help but find it hilarious this happened in the very middle of MUZZLED. I reckon I'm just an independent old turd that will not conform. I've been out of the high school conformity factory way too long. Best place for shit like me is at home. Takes a lot less gas.


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