I was teased as a kid.  Some days were better than others and some others weren’t so great, but the fact is that from the time I entered first grade through high school graduation, there was something in me which drew the jibes, catcalls and slanders from my fellow students.  Somehow I was different, though exactly how I had no idea back then.  This whole business was made worse by the fact that for a great deal of that time, I was hyper-sensitive to that kind of abuse and could not control my reactions to it.  Quite naturally, this only encouraged my assailants to pursue my goat all the more energetically and frequently with similar levels of success.  I was well into my adult years before I had even begun to get a handle on how to face such attacks and recognize them for the incoherent noise that they were.

More recently we’ve seen the advent of political correctness, the attempts to soften speech in consideration for those who don’t deal well with unfiltered reality, with harsh facts or people.  We hear terms like “safe spaces” and pejoratives such as “special snowflakes” with regard to couching solutions for those who find the latent or blatant hostility around them too much to bear.

Obviously, I know something about that.  At the risk of recycling an old trope: been there, done that, the t-shirt’s a rag.  Back when I had to plow through the slings and arrows proffered by my fellows, the PC concept was as non-existent as any organized program with the goal of countering bullying behavior.  The kids who heckled me didn’t give a damn about how I felt about their harassment, and any downside to their behavior never reached my awareness.  In fact, when confronted with my situation, most of the school’s teachers and administrators acknowledged that they were largely powerless to take any meaningful action which would put an end to their behavior.  Worth mentioning too is the shrink I saw twice a week for too many years.  Though he did his level best, I can’t say that his input especially aided me or improved things much if at all.  In the final analysis, I just slogged through it.  It was neither easy nor painless, and yeah, there were plenty of scars, but I survived.

Reflecting on all of this, I realize that I have been a long time learning the following two lessons:

  • The world is not safe.
  • The world cannot be made safe for everyone.

Twenty-first century Planet Earth is probably more civilized than it has been at any time in its 4.5 billion years.  Violence – aggression of human against human – is at its lowest point in the history of Homo sapiens.  It is entirely likely that the human race will do even better as time goes on.  But … will we ever fully purge the desire or the tendency of one to act out on another, whether verbally or physically?  Honestly, I am dubious.

As for what this means for those who want the world to recognize and respect their sensitivities, all I have to say is this.  Some of the world may be willing to change for them, but all of it?  Never.  Won’t happen.  Political correctness and safe spaces are short term Band-Aids at best.  At some point or other, they can either learn to value themselves sufficiently and develop the strength necessary to defend against their opposition or resign themselves to living with the pain the noisemakers wish to inflict.

It's not a pretty solution ... but then it's not a safe world.

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Comment by Loren Miller on March 8, 2017 at 7:57am

John, don't worry.  I'll grade your comments and hand them back to you before your last class today! [chuckle!]

There does indeed need to be an intelligent response to the whole PC business which has apparently been running rampant on university campuses in the US.  The issue of "feeling secure" is a wide open one, too, as there is a considerable difference between protecting students from assault and rape and guarding against what they may think of as untoward language.  Regarding that, I recently unearthed a quote which speaks to this whole magilla:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Indeed, no one can make you feel ANYTHING, positive or negative, without your approval. Those who react badly to words spoken need to ask themselves a very simple and non-trivial question:

WHY AM I GIVING THIS PERSON POWER OVER ME?

Comment by Michael Penn on March 8, 2017 at 6:41am

I go along with you on that, Loren. Adding to it a moment we find some people that whine "that made me feel uncomfortable." Then people cater to their feelings on this trying to say that you cannot make people feel this way, etc. Grow up! A lot of things in this world are going to make you feel uncomfortable. Trying to hide that fact doesn't make it better or make it go away. Only in dealing with these things outright do we ever make it better.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 8, 2017 at 5:05am

John, I have likely said it 100 times around A|N and YouTube:

No one ... no one, No One, NO ONE has the right not to be offended.

FSM knows we get offended enough by the religious idiot-children who peddle their bilge to the young, the unlearned and unsophisticated and they get away with it all too often.  Then there are the whiners who complain their feeling have been hurt by thus-and-so.  That used to be me for entirely too long.  Now, instead of complaining, I COUNTER-PUNCH.  My prescription for such people remains:

  • Knock off the whining
  • Grow a thicker skin
  • Recognize that the world doesn't owe you ANYTHING

And learn to stand on your own two fucking feet.

Comment by BenGee on March 8, 2017 at 4:06am
Agreed. This is why I want the infamous cradle of filth t shirt that says "Jesus is a cunt" with a nun masterbating on the front. Because we have a constitutional right to express such things and yet that shirt lands people in jail even in parts of the us. In this instance is not being offensive to offend it's confronting free speech violations.

Generally though I wouldn't wear stuff like that, I wouldn't care if someone had it on but I usually don't go looking for trouble or to cause harm. When I heard blue laws allowed people to go to jail over it though I felt people should wear this to make a stand.
Comment by Loren Miller on March 7, 2017 at 3:15pm

I agree the world is not safe and should not be safe. The alternative smacks of thought control and moral policing in a milk toast world.
-- John Elder

Utterly on the nose, John.  Thank you for your comment and especially for THAT.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 7, 2017 at 2:27pm

Daniel, certainly we should continue to work to make the world more safe, but that's only half the equation.  The other half is helping those who have the issues of sensitivity and a lack of defense to gain those skills so that they can survive in environments where the hostility is ongoing and less likely to be resolved.  This is where I part company with those who want PERFECT safety for such people, because I seriously doubt that the world will EVER be perfectly safe.  That, like so many other examples of absolute thinking, are pipe dreams which may never come to fruition.

We can help, but they also need to learn to help themselves.

Comment by Joan Denoo on March 7, 2017 at 1:35pm

I feel both enlightened and encouraged by each of your posts, Loren, Ruth, Michael, BenGee, and Daniel. Thanks for sharing. 

Comment by Loren Miller on March 6, 2017 at 3:13pm

Many thanks, BenGee...

Comment by BenGee on March 6, 2017 at 2:55pm

Full of win man. I'm quite a bit younger than you. Technically I'm a millennial, Yet I was bullied ruthlessly at home by a substance abusing former Marine, and at school by kids. I was always different, because we moved a lot I was always new, and my dad only ever taught me violence. So when confronted with bullies, they never touched me twice. After a few rather brutal altercations they would step back and sling harmful words at me because they realized if they kept their abuse to words I would not react. I lived in a bit of a coma, talking to no one, no desire to do anything, escaping into the world of books on my own time, and learning about the world from books rather than the religious teachers I had. I was confronted early with this reality, I've had my life threatened at knife point and gun point and I never signed up for that life, I was just always different, always something to be feared and hated. Most of the time when I got close enough to ask people why, they couldn't even figure out why, they didn't know why they treated me the way they did. The world is not safe. The world can not be safe. Frankly the world SHOULD not be safe.

This may seem counter intuitive to those who believe in social justice. I don't I think everyone is equal and should be and should have equal opportunity yes, and a society that promotes this is generally a good thing. However Social Justice takes it a step further, they want to enforce it. This denies the existence of the individual enslaving them to the group. When you challenge the ideas of a persons who holds up social justice they may say "you're invalidating my existence" of course an idea should not be an identity, challenging an idea does not invalidate anyone's existence. More importantly by forcing your subjective morality on others you literally are invalidating and violently and abusively destroying their right to exist. They MUST conform to YOUR subjective morality. As an anti authoritarian I simply can not exist in a world created by them. For the most part my standards and values line up very well with social justice, until the subject of freedom of thought, freedom of words, freedom of action, and freedom to be yourself come up. They must conform the world to their standards to MAKE the world safe. FOR THEM. and by extension they make the world unsafe for everyone else. I'm not talking about Nazi's and bigots, though even the civil rights groups will defend the right for KKK to protest, not because KKK are right or good but because we all have the freedom of speech in this country. Removing that right for ANY one segment of society removes it for all. So I'm talking about free thinkers, anti authoritarians, good people who don't deserve to have their existence invalidated, subjugated, forcibly and abusively destroyed just to make the world safe from some scumbags.

I do not have a single friend whom I agree with even most of the time. Yet my friends are very dear to me, and we have a strong close bond. Why? Because I respect them and they respect me. If they make a valid point I ALWAYS acknowledge that, even if we're disagreeing. And visa versa. In a world dominated by thought and word police those rights, that mutual respect, that freedom for me to be me, the freedom for me to be right or wrong on any given issue evaporates. More importantly their morality and rules are entirely subjective. Let me be clear, I don't like the people who use the term "special snowflake" much either, most of them are ass hats and trolls. Both sides using subjective standards an appeals to authority and emotions to win the debate. Neither side uses facts, more specifically both sides only use facts that are favorable to them, and ignore anything else. And both sides make a ton of shit up. There's a ton of factual evidence on LGTBI rights from the science community that justifies protecting them from abusive religious folk, yet the science is rarely used its all a bunch of appeal to emotions. Makes me sick. it undermines the work they try to achieve and cheapens the entire thing. They do this mostly because not all their positions are based in fact or reason, so if they adopted a position of fact and reason they may have to give up ground on some of the positions they have that are purely based on emotions.

When people choose to be good to one another because they want to,its the most beautiful thing in the human experience. When Social Justice, or Religion force people to behave in a particular way there's no beauty in any "good" act. Specifically because its no longer genuine. The world becomes fake, phony, and meaningless. Now I'm a nihilist, there's no intrinsic meaning, but they want to take away any meaning we could possibly give to our own existence too. 

I could say so much more on this topic, but I have to go now. Thanks for what you said, I think it was very well written.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 3, 2017 at 8:10am

Michael, just as I think rational atheism is the result of a deduction made by a given individual, so I also think that treating people equitably comes from a reasoned conclusion of a similar sort.  The problem is that not everyone comes to that conclusion, either because their ego gets in the way or as a reaction to abuse or bullying or whatever.  While I don't necessarily have a complete picture on this issue, it seems to me that the PC crowd think that the solutions they offer are IT, without any other addenda, and in thinking so, they do a disservice to those who are hyper-sensitive and are victimized by the more aggressive and less empathetic elements of our population.

Changing society is a valid part of the equation but it is not the whole thing.  Like it or not, those on the other side of the equals sign need to change, themselves, if they want to be able to operate effectively in society without having their vulnerabilities exploited.  Otherwise, you're talking about making a family of immobile gazelles safe in the middle of a cheetah hunt.

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