This blog, article, whatever you call it has been on the back of my mind longer than any other I’ve written. A blog about how in modern society we have to give a god damn disclaimer before doing or saying anything. Most people will probably read this article and doze off three lines in so how do you start such a blog without first giving a disclaimer? Seems almost ironic that I would need a disclaimer to write a blog throwing jabs at disclaimers.
Basically, the gist of my angst here is that you can’t just be honest any more. You can’t just say what you think any more. You can’t just say the obvious any more. No matter how blatantly fucking obvious, or benign, or trivial something is these days, we all have to give disclaimers beforehand for fear of being shamed out of town, because we’ve fostered this atmosphere of wussiness.
I mean ordinarily, I would have been inclined to say at the beginning of this blog “Warning, this blog is about to use foul language. For those of you with children eyes, turn on the Disney Channel instead”.
People have to give disclaimers for practically everything they do. Here are some common examples you’re exposed to every day, whether at work, at home, during the holidays, or out in public.
- What you say: “I can see your point of view, however it’s my opinion that…”
- What you mean: “I heard you. I’m about to talk, please don’t hate me.”
- What you say: “Before I begin, I want to clarify that I didn’t vote for Bush…”
- What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not Republican.”
- What you say: “….oh and by the way, I’m Mexican.”
- What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not racist.”
- What you say: “No offense, but…”
- What you mean: “You won’t like what I’m about to say, please don’t hate me.”
- What you say: “Excuse me, can you please lower your voice. I can’t hear the movie.”
- What you mean: “I paid $12 for this ticket! Shut the fuck up before I shove my foot up your ass!”
You might argue these are niceties. But I think it’s really just pussy footing. Sometimes I wanna just blurt out “Offense intended. That’s a stupid idea.” There’s being flat out rude, and then there’s being flat out ridiculous, and I feel like the pendulum has swung very far in that direction. Even when something isn’t rude we’re afraid of coming off as rude because as a society we’ve slowly but surely been getting thinner skinned. So many people have such delicate sensibilities, and it seems like every issue is a hot topic of controversy for someone.
I’ve been told not to talk about politics even when I am with like-minded people in public, because some random person I’ll never see again might overhear and get offended. Gasp!
But exactly that’s the root of it. People being offended. Us being offended. Have we all always been so easily offended? Did we always use to cower when something of controversy was said amidst a mixed crowd at a dinner party? Do we dare not raise out glass in agreement with the stranger across the room for fear of earning some random bloke’s enmity? What happened?
Whatever fucking happened to straight shooters? Whatever happened to people who know what they want and say it. They just fucking say it for the sake of saying it? Whatever happened to Eminem? Clint Eastwood, Winston Churchill and George W. Bush? What happened to not giving a fuck?
To quote the great Marshall Mathers, “Whatever happened to wildin out and being violent? Whatever happened to catchin a good old-fashioned passionate ass whoopin’ and getting your shoes, coat, and your hat tooken”
We give disclaimers for almost everything. It’s expected that you do, and rude if you don’t. If you just go off and say what you want to say, without first lubing up the sensibilities of the people around you, you’re bound to create some friction, and some enemies.
Because of this, a void in communication has been created. There are certain opinions, certain ideas, certain offensive truths that dare not be spoken for fear of offending someone and permanently landing yourself on their shit list. No more getting invited to couples charades. What has filled this void, is lies, false pleasantries, groupthink, blind obedience to, and agreement with those whose sensibilities might be offended. We’ve catered our thoughts and speech to the lowest common denominator of the emotionally volatile.
Starbucks caught a lot of flak for starting up a dialogue about race. That’s all, let’s just talk about race. Howard Schultz never told his employees to don a white hood and start setting crosses on fire, but that’s how people reacted to it.
When you baby a kid, he turns into a baby. So let’s stop treating everyone like babies. Let’s toughen up. Let’s be bold and speak what’s on our minds. I’m not saying go out and be rude, but let’s stop acting like the simple act of disagreeing is rude. Let’s stop acting like being individuals, and thus have individual thought, is an offence. Am I asking you to stop using disclaimers? Well…