September is apparently Rude Season. Taylor Swift was making her thank you speech at the VMA awards when fellow musical artist Kanye West took her microphone away from her and went on a rant. I did not witness the event, but that’s okay because I hate that squirmy feeling you get when you see somebody doing something really stupid that you just know they are going to regret later but will never be able to “edit” out of their life.
Kanye apparently did regret it later. On the Leno show, he said as much, and appeared to be close to tears when Jay asked him how his deceased grandmother would have felt about it. President Obama also got involved- but NOT intentionally, when someone overheard him saying that West had behaved like a “jackass.” Since it was a private conversation, the news outlet later apologized for treating Obama’s statement as a public statement.
This event plus fallout makes me think of the very recent Joe Wilson bit, in which he said “You lie” to a president on national TV, a first in television history. I also think back to the news conference in which President Obama dissed the Cambridge Massachusetts police force for behaving “stupidly” for arresting a black man in his own home for the crime of being upset with their presence.
I suppose there is a common element in all three of these things. Do you remember back in Elementary School when the teacher explained the process of counting to ten when you are upset? All 3 of these people could have used that strategy and saved themselves some trouble. I do not put the president’s statement in the same category as the other two, but still he should have taken a deep breath and said no comment. It’s also worth noting that all three of these things had a racial component, or could at least be interpreted that way.
This posting may be coming across as an imitation of Rodney King, pleading “can’t we just get along.” Actually, I realize that we can’t get along. I spend a lot of time on Gather, and if Gather teaches you anything, it’s that we can’t get along. But even when we can’t, things still work out better when we strive for a little civility, and wait a little while, and mull over the golden rule, before we blurt it out. It’s normal for people to feel hurt and victimized at numerous times in their lives. But when you react with pure emotion, you risk making the guy who just played you actually look better than you do! If you are going to say or do something offensive to a person of a different race, ask yourself first “would I be ready to do this thing if he were of MY race?” So granted, we can’t get long, but at least we could stop throwing gasoline on fires.