|Public domain image by United States Congress.|
I’ve recently overheard and e-participated in a number of conversations that have gone something like this:
Person A, a very nice conservative leaning individual: “I’m just bummed that Romney lost. I get that now Obama is President again and you’ve got to respect the office. But still. Romney would have been so good for the economy.”
Person B, a very nice liberal leaning individual: “Personally I voted Obama but it’s no fun when your guy loses. I hear you. I voted for Kerry in ’04. And, hey, you never know. It’s clear some aspects of what Romney had to say about the economy hit a chord with
. So maybe some of that stuff will be adopted after all.” America
Person C, that one person you pray never comments on your status updates and wish you could unfriend but can’t: “Obama is a socialist who will kill the economy. It just goes to show how many lazy, entitled moochers we have in this country. I will now mis-spell some words. Also some border line racist stuff about how I can’t find work as an accountant right now because of Mexicans.”
::: Awkward silence :::
Person D, that one person who always engages when everybody else realizes it’s just best not to engage: “You’ve got to at least admit that the Republican party had some severe missteps this election that might have given even non-moochers some pause. That had to hurt Romney. Look at all the talk about “legitimate” rape, “laying back and enjoying the inevitable,” and seeing pregnancies resulting from rape as a “gift from God.” You can see how that might have rubbed people the wrong way.”
Person C: “Oh for Pete’s sake! They mis-spoke. Just because they didn’t use your PC liberal language. Obviously Akin and Mourdock and those guys didn’t mean it like that. People need to stop being so sensitive and focus on the economy for the good of the country.”
Person D: “OH IT IS ON NOW! LIKE ALL CAPS ON!”
And here is me, Person E, that one person who didn’t know precisely what to say at the time but has a blog so will say it there instead:
I get that PC language can be infuriating at times. The teenager who runs the drive through at McDonalds is a drive through worker not a “Nutrition Dispatchment Engineer.” But the comments about rape that created such controversy in the general election are not the same animal. They’re not even the same species.
Mis-speaking is when you accidentally call one child by another’s name or talk about I-502 when you really mean I-74. You mix up the stuff that’s rattling around in your frazzled, busy brain and say A when you mean B.
That’s why when people very publically make a Holocaust joke or use the N-word the room goes quiet and people suddenly stop inviting the speaker to holiday parties. The speaker might not have meant to bandy about anti-Semitic or racist sentiments in a context where they went down so badly. They might have mis-read the room or mis-spoken. And that, in and of itself, is disturbing because it implies that these thoughts and phrases are rattling around their heads somewhere and they believe there are rooms where it’s totally appropriate to speak and act as they just did.
And there are racist and anti-semitic rooms, I’m sure, but they’re gross and you don’t really want to hang out with people who frequent them. Hence people being suddenly unable to recall the anti-semitic, racist joke teller’s address when it comes time to create the guest list for their annual New Years’ brunch. Even if he behaves angelically at your party part of you wonders just what that guy does on weekends and if he has a penchant for hanging out on whatever skinhead message boards like to call themselves when they don’t like to think of themselves as skinheads.
He mis-spoke and that in and of is the scary thing.
Same goes for the guy that accidentally stands up in a public forum and goes, “All right, here’s my take on rape: If a woman has been legitimately raped then the female body has a way of shutting that whole thing down. Because, let’s face it, rape is kind of a gray area that’s sometimes used as an excuse for abortion or against the husband in the divorce. Additionally, let me tell the rape victim how to feel: her baby is a gift from God (the one I worship, of course – her religious views don’t enter into the equation).”
He might have mis-spoken and he clearly mis-read the room. He meant to say, “I love babies. What are you, anti-baby?” But that’s not what he said. Those thoughts are rattling around in his frazzled, busy brain. And that’s disturbing. So come election time I will not fill in the bubble next to his name on the ballot because part of me wonders what that guy does on weekends and if he has a penchant for hanging out in rooms where women’s much less rape victims’ positions aren’t taken seriously. I do not want someone living in that type of headspace anywhere near a position of authority.