I recently ran into a buzz saw of political correctness. I’ve been attending a gathering of writers at a local cafe for a couple years. If you’ve met me you know I don’t have much of a filter. I say stuff that makes you wonder about me. This gathering of writers says it is inclusive. Their published code of conduct is amenable to the fashionable set and shuns everyone else.
My beef with it is similar to my beef with the definition of inclusivity by the fashionable set. If you are gay or gay friendly, if you see marriage as an outdated tradition that needlessly oppresses women, if you are a woman, if your skin isn’t white, if you garden a resentment against the man, or the man’s system, if you believe that a desirable answer is to punish the rich and make everything fair, if you expect that jobs should be for a lifetime and union, that’s 10 things, by now you should know where I am going with this, if you are any or all of these, then you are included. Everybody else is not part of the fashionable set and maybe needs some cultural re-education.
I’m not part of the fashionable set. I’d probably end up in detention at that cultural re-education class. I’m not gay friendly, marriage is a blessing between one man and one woman, I’m a guy, I’m white, a WASP, which is worse, the system is why I have a house, a car, my bills paid, food . . ., the rich are already in enough torment without my help, I’ve done temp work for almost 20 years and dislike unions. I’m a lot of things the fashionable set finds ugly. While we are at it, I’m a convicted wife beater. Despicable enough for you? No? Sorry, it’s the worst I’ve got.
So, when among the fashionable set I draw stares. I say stuff that has them tut-tutting about my mouth. Before spending a year putzing about with a story about vampire fan-boys who wanted to drink the blood of their victim from IV lines I was toying with a story about my grandfather that was a bit autobiographical. Lately I’ve got Ray(Rob(ert))a Bob, my drunk alien and a more recent post with a Swarthmore co-ed yelling that she was raped. Way, way back in college I wrote a rather disturbing short story about a thief who was stealing women’s underwear from unattended dryers at the laundromat. Me, unfiltered, is a bit much.
I am all of the above and more. I’m also the guy who has written thousands of words about the need for grace and mercy. One of my constant axes to grind is the love of being a victim by the fashionable set. To be included you need a dandelion you cultivate that is a token for whatever hurt or hangup is your habit. I worked very hard to weed dandelions out of my life. I’m a huge fan of giving grace first, of forgiving so I can be free. It’s one more way in which I am a dandelion to the fashionable set.
I said to the membership guy at the writer’s group what I’ll say to you. Trying to tiptoe around everybody’s triggers and perceptions of micro-aggressions is a mistake. The likely outcome is that you will be blown up by a dandelion carefully gardened by someone.
I am what I am. This space is what it is. You either like it or you don’t. There is too much insistence that the world behave in a way amenable to the fashionable set. I forget, though, who this space is for. The fat part of the curve, where the steady, universal rhythm drums on across eternity, that isn’t who I write for/about. I’m a bit silly to be cross with my peers who believe cell phones are the vector by which aliens are controlling us. Those who are at the narrow ends of the curve, in the world of the absurd, are not likely to have a sudden epiphany and give up their malcontented ways. If they did I’d have to write about something else.
This makes the count at least two organizations where the leadership has pulled me aside and asked me to be more careful. I may end up living at the Post Office like Stella-Rondo’s sister. I just can’t accept that the world is better for brutish control of acceptable conversation in the name of inclusivity. It seems to me the very opposite of inclusivity. Only those who wear the uniform, speak the patois, and send the right signals can be included. Everyone else is out and suspect. How are we free if we continually narrow the definition of polite orthodoxy in the name of not making offense? How about not taking offense? I’m really starting to understand Berkeley’s “Hate Man” a lot better. I’m done. Write to me at the Post Office if you need to find me.