Political Correctness Never Was Happiness

Controversometer Red Mike Thayer

PoliticalCorrectness Mike ThayerWell, that was an interesting week. Apparently cranking the controvers-o-meter to the max ends up breaking the internet and “setting the mommy blogging world on fire” as one person put it (I really gotta make sure to put that button somewhere where I won’t accidentally lean against it). Did I think my last article would strike a chord? Yes. Did I think it would go volcanic? Uh…no. It has been a fun ride though.

The response, although overwhelmingly positive, has been varied. Writing is a bit like creating a connect the dots puzzle. The quality of the image you get in the end is a reflection of both how well I placed and numbered the dots and how well you drew the lines. A lot of people picked up exactly what I was putting down. Awesome. Others, after looking at the final picture, divined meaning I never intended nor even considered. That is also awesome. Awesome that people think differently than I do, better than I do, and are willing to voice those thoughts, even if they can be critical at times. I write because of these two awesomes. The former being the awesomeness of validation, the latter the awesomeness of perspective and reevaluation.

There were still many other people, who just saw a jumble of dots and started doing their own thing. “One, seven, fourteen, twelve…looks like a tail, it’s a dog, the dog’s got a knife in its head, Mike wants to kill puppies! Mike’s a puppy killer!” I could try and write clarifications for some of this, but it would be a bit like the traffic sign I used to always see in Houston that read “Obey Warning Signs. State Law.” If you ain’t paying attention to traffic signs already… As an aside, I would love to see how that meeting at the DOT went down.

“Bob, people aren’t obeying our signs. Ideas?”

“Uh, I’ve got this other sign I made.”

“Hmmmm…I like the way you think, Bob. I like the way you think…”

One of the comments I reflect on most came from one of my closest friends, who sagely said: “Thayer, you’ve literally never had this many people hate you in your entire life.”

And in some respects it’s true. Over the last week I’ve been called stupid, an idiot, barf, a douche (this one seems to be a favorite among my critics), a mansplainer, a porn addict, anti-woman, and on and on. It’s not like I appreciate these titles, but I honestly don’t really mind the criticism. I even get a good measure of twisted amusement from the really good ones. Look, as the age-old proverb goes: “one cannot proclaim a strong opinion without someone, somewhere thinking they are a douche.” And believe it or not, in a roundabout way, this is exactly what I set out to do.

Expressing a belief is a bit like playing laser tag down at the ol’ Nickel City: If you want to hit the target, you got to expose yourself. Plain and simple. You can stay huddled in a corner behind that florescent painted barrel if you want. You’ll never have to get hit. But I wanted to spark a conversation. I wanted to shed light on something that I felt was festering in the shadows. And to do that I had to come out from cover and expose the little blinking lights on my shoulders, chest, back and gun.

It was fascinating to see the reaction and discussion, but whether people liked it or hated it, thought I was brilliant or thought I was a talentless, bitter, misogynistic hack, the most fulfilling aspect of my 15 seconds of fame was simply that people (a lot of people) were having a discussion. In some ways I think this is getting harder to do today despite having unprecedented communication tools at our fingertips. People talk and share stuff, for sure, but discussing one’s true, deeply held beliefs is becoming an ever riskier proposition these days.

To continue the laser tag analogy, I don’t even think that most people stay hidden behind cover because they’re afraid of getting shot at; I think they’re afraid of being unfairly disqualified from the game altogether or banned for life for violating a rule they didn’t even know existed, nor agreed to. Said another way, people are terrified of being on the business end of a political correctness witch hunt.

The debate strategy de jour isn’t to discuss opinions, it’s to dismiss the opinionator. The quicker you can ram someone into your brain’s existing narratives of bigot, misogynist, homophobe or equivalent, the quicker you can disregard anything and everything that person says. Mike’s a man explaining problems that women have, he’s mansplaining, he’s a mansplainer, mansplainers are stupid, Mike’s stupid, moving on. He’s judging people, you shouldn’t judge, I can ignore judgmental statements, moving on.

Some people believe that repeatedly yelling “bigot” or “racist” or “misogynist” at the top of their lungs is akin to reciting some all-powerful incantation to exorcise the three demons of political correctness: offense, confronting information, and dissenting opinion. What they don’t realize is that they look about as ridiculous as the old dude in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who sprays Windex on everything. If this is you, please do the world a favor and stop trying to windex away the bits of life that make you uncomfortable. Put the bottle down, stand firm, and actually put together a reasonable counter argument.

So what’s the difference between windexing and calling someone a lifestyle porn star, you might ask? Well, first off, I took 2,500 words to make my point. I didn’t just squirt the same old ammonia rich panacea again and again and again in hopes that it would make the bad things go away. I used a bit of snarky logic (snargic) to draw a parallel and make a critique.

In addition to that, I welcome counter arguments with open arms. I personally approved every single one of the 350+ comments on my last post. So if you’re wondering whether or not I saw them, I did, and I waved them all through. I want people to look at my work with a critical eye and let me know what they think. My goal is to encourage debate, not silence it.

Look, be as accepting or judgmental of me as you want to be. I would actually like to hear about it either way, and I’ll tell you one reason why. For over three years I worked on a construction site in rural Australia. The language that I heard on a daily basis makes the old high school football locker room talk seem like something Elsa would sing to a snowman. Think of any four letter word, -ism or -phobic adjective and I heard it, some with impressive regularity and creativity. These words were said by every pigment and ethnicity about every pigment and ethnicity.

And you want to know why I absolutely love these people? Because they would take a bullet for anyone. They are the kind of people that freely give of their time, money and resources to help a bloke/sheila out, regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, gender or ethnicity. They aren’t monsters. They had a different life than I did. They speak somewhat differently, they express themselves somewhat differently. That’s what diversity looks and sounds like. Their ways might be shockingly offensive to someone, but if you can’t see past that then you will fail to get to know and understand some of the most giving and wonderful people this world has to offer, and I pity you. Political correctness, however, would have them silenced, labeled and dismissed.

You could demand an apology from them and rend your clothing in a virtue signaling display of offense, OR you could let the prickly words wash over you for a while and try to get to know the person. I know this approach may challenge some existing narratives, or you might not currently have a folder set up to put “person who says things I find offensive, but might actually be a kind and wonderful person,” but I would encourage you to make that folder.

I’ll get to know anybody. I have an open invitation to Braxlynn if she ever wants to grab lunch and get to know the man behind the keyboard. We might still think each other tools in the end, but I’m willing to sit down, break bread and see if life doesn’t surprise me (she’ll pick up the tab obviously, but I’ll totally be there). Liberal, conservative, gay, straight, Christian, atheist, whatever. I want to hear what folks actually think. Not some watered down, conformist version of who they are. A staunch PC mindset makes this nearly impossible.

Some might say that curbing our freedom of expression and suppressing our true opinions is a small price to pay to ensure the vulnerable are protected (e.g. Kim Jon-un, Ministry of Truth, Ultron, Clu from Tron). I know some, however, who think this approach is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If you ask me, I would say it’s closer to throwing the baby out, leaving the bathwater and placing a big ol’ poopy diaper in it to marinate. Political correctness doesn’t protect the defenseless, it dilutes the cries of actual victims with a sea of perpetually offended pseudo-victims while generating a blacklist of undeserving pseudo-victimizers. 

I’ve heard some assert that we actually have much to thank for political correctness. Society has come a long way in terms of civility and equality since say the 1950’s, after all. I agree, and if PC is to thank for that than I give it props, but the pendulum never stopped swinging and has now found itself leading the charge in an insatiable witch hunt. It’s like telling Will Smith’s character in “I, Robot” that technology is a good thing because it saved his life with cybernetic implants. That’s true, technology is a great thing, until an army of NS-5 robots enslave humanity. PC helping us evolve from 1950’s mentality = life saving cybernetic implants. PC today = creepy murderous totalitarian robot army.

One side of the debate might be “offensive,” but the other side of the debate is saying that you’re not even allowed to express your side of the debate. You must assimilate to PC approved speech and resistance is futile. If you’re a man, don’t mansplain. If you’re judging people, thou shalt not judge. Should we strive to be civil? Of course. But it’s not my responsibility to build your safe space by excising every piece of me that makes you uncomfortable.   

If my kids hear an opinion they don’t like or that challenges them or offends them, I sure as hell won’t tell them to seek refuge in some damn comfort tent. Deal with it. Wrestle with it. Reconcile it. Talk to me about it. Study it. See past it. See through it. Break it down. Be stronger because of it. Be wiser because of it, but don’t retreat from it and don’t demand that society never says anything that makes you uncomfortable.

People, we can speak our minds and live to tell about it. If you hear something you don’t like, respond with reason…and maybe a little snargic, but don’t seek to disqualify someone from the debate because you don’t hear the exact words you want to hear. I look forward to meeting new people and I truly hope this little blogging endeavor of mine (however unlikely it seems to be unfolding) allows me to do that in a way I never thought possible, whether I agree with those people or not.

Thanks for reading, and remember to subscribe.

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13 Responses to Political Correctness Never Was Happiness

  1. Marci says:

    Yup….. Loved this Mike!!!! PC pendulum swing check!!!!! Way to stand up.

  2. Sam Houston says:

    I truly hope you and Braxlynn sit down and have lunch…and then you can both blog about it.

  3. disconnected thoughts, overall praise says:

    I was surprised I enjoyed this post more than the last. I liked what you had to say about your experience in Australia. I have some friends that can say some of the most vial things I’ve ever heard but in time of need they are the first people to help. Just because someone says something offensive does not make them an awful person. I love your open invitation for lunch with Braxlynn (that name couldn’t be more perfect). I typically water down what I have to say because I lack the confidence necessary to delve into controversial topics. I don’t like it about myself (I’m working on it) but for now, just know that I love your snargic.

  4. Jessalyn H. says:

    this was long winded and not as funny as your last one.

  5. Jenny Hatch says:

    You can link to me Mike, I promise, I won’t bite.


    If you are ever in Boulder Colorado, look me up, I would love to do lunch and talk without PC filters.


  6. Sharon Cassidy says:

    Thank you Mike. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say and explain to people for a very long time. And also for remembering us down here…… Look forward to reading more real talking, not something that what was already written by someone else. Cheers for now…

  7. Sharon Cassidy says:

    Thank you…
    That’s basically what I’ve been trying to say to people for what seems to be forever.
    They either block out difference of opinions or live by the “I’m right, so don’t tell me I’m wrong” way of life.
    Also thanks for not forgetting us…
    Lkved it fr ok m the start to the end.
    Look forward to each of your blogs…

  8. Pomeroy Jordan says:

    I think I saw the opportunity for some dousches to mix messages and decide that civility and good manners go out with the baby to be replaced with what dousches would consider snargic, but is really just your big ol’ poopy diaper.

    I did see the point that our culture of diversity has been subverted by dousches that insist on particular flavor(s) of minority opinions. So ready to dismiss true diversity of opinion in the name of political correctness, which is the abominable doppleganger that the fat, lazy, stupid baby-boomers substitute for diversity, our parents have ravaged the national tradition of a melting pot.

    Anyway, stuck it to’em cowboy!

  9. Joshua says:

    Political correctness is essentially a crowd-sourced police state.

  10. Quinn says:

    Mike, I was so excited this week to receive the notification of your new post. I am not going to lie, when I opened the email and saw the controversy meter cranked up, I became a little too excited.

    Let me clarify something, I am married and I have read you are married. I am also not gay, so this will be safe to say, I have a major man crush on you. Dude you rock! Now on to some good discussion type stuff.

    Talking about the many billions of people that grew up differently than us, I am Mo Mo too btw. I couldn’t agree more that our Mo Mo culture tends to demonize people for a lack of standards they were never raised with. I spent 5 years in the military plus half of a life as an ex-patriot and what you are saying couldn’t be closer to the truth. These are good people who love their families and look out for their friends. Who truly carry valuable Christ like traits without the expectation to even possess them, but do so because its in their nature.

    I believe that PC was originally intended to unite us through the racial divisions of the 50’s and 60’s, and had validity into the next decades as well. However, with many noble efforts, it is being turned into yet another tool of division. The billions of people on earth have so much more to unite on than to divide on. Yet we let those differences be fed from small flames to raging infernos.

    Thanks Mike, love the post. #thayerfanboy

  11. ~ On your side of this one ~ says:

    You hit the nail EVERY TIME. So they get mad at you because you’re RIGHT and they don’t want to see themselves for who they are. Sometimes it’s hard to really gaze into that mirror and see what’s staring back. You ARE allowed to express your side of the debate. Quite enjoyable. Carry on.

  12. Michelle Ballantyne says:

    “This is not a ‘political correctness’ issue. It’s a fundamental rejection of the possibility to consider that the people who don’t feel the same way you do might be right” (https://medium.com/@SeanBlanda/the-other-side-is-not-dumb-2670c1294063#.vl0y1a5fx).

    Thanks for being open-minded and honest. And making a call for distrusting things that may not be true, or exactly as they appear to be.

    Also, I appreciate your wit and sound parallel with ‘real’ porn and ‘lifestyle’ porn. It is thought-provoking and good reason for self-reflection. As a side note: when I was in the single/dating world (in Utah during the early 2000’s) I had an absolute distaste for the dating scene in general for a lot of the same reasons that lifestyle porn is fake. A “date”: one young man and one young woman put their best selves on display for a few hours with no concrete ties to reality. I couldn’t imagine how this could possibly produce a good, FUNCTIONAL marriage.

    You know, most people are normal and the things that matter are not often worn on the outside of us. But, appeal is also important. So, the magic middle is where most of us have to try and live…try to get the meaningful stuff in all while trying to look good while we do it. I say it to my kids this way, “Do respectable things, and look respectable while you do it.” What is real though?

    I’m a Mom. I absolutely know it’s what’s on the inside that counts; that is what I do as my job. It’s hearts and morals and perspective and thinking-minds that I’m growing. And I absolutely plan to teach them to distrust anything that looks too good to be true. Both polar opposites should be questioned: things that look awful and ugly, and things that look glorious and wonderful. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Thanks for asking your readers to question reality.

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