Quick Memes

I’ve had a few memes sitting around for a while that just didn’t seem to merit an entire post.  Enjoy!


Being Offended

Actually, we have to stop this recent culture of people not giving a f*** when somebody else is offended.  You might not understand why somebody is offended, or if you do, you might not agree with their indignation, but the least you could do – the most basic acknowledgement you could afford somebody – is to recognize that they are offended, and perhaps to offer your condolences.  Don’t worry…you can still maintain your tough guy individualist persona without being a total jerk to everybody.


Child and Gun Control

Either this meme is a complete non sequitur, or it’s suggesting that many of the societal issues which are frequently blamed on guns (and the public’s easy access thereto) could instead be solved by a liberal application of parental strictness.  It’s hard to imagine how we might test this hypothesis in the United States, so let’s look to other nations.  A 2010 study assessed the relative toughness of parents in Canada, France, and Italy.  The results showed that Italian parents are the most strict, French are moderate, and Canadians are fairly laid back.  If I’m correctly interpreting this meme’s implied hypothesis, gun violence should therefore be most pervasive in our neighbor to the north, and least common in Italy.  But is that the case?

In a word: no.  A 2012 tally of firearm-related deaths per 100,000 population per year lists 0.51 for Canada, 0.06 for France, and 0.71 for Italy.  There doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between parental strictness and gun-related deaths, at least among those three nations.

The firearm-related death rates of all three nations pale in comparison to that of the United States: about 2.97 of every 100,000 people in the United States are killed by guns each year.  Instead of blaming lax parenting for the United States’ relatively high rate of gun-related violence, maybe there’s another explanation.  If you sort the list in terms of gun ownership, the United States is at the top of the list for which data is available: there are 88.8 guns for every 100 people in the United States.  Let me put that into perspective: there were only about 83 registered passenger vehicles per 100 people in the United States in 2009.

Now I’m not going to preach about gun control this time: you may make of these statistics whatever you like.  But know this: there’s no reason to think that stricter parents will lead to a decrease in gun violence.


Angels

Although the Bible never explicitly states that all Angels are male, it always refers to them in masculine terms, and they always seem to appear as men.  Some argue that Angels are genderless.  While I suppose it wouldn’t be beyond the power of an Angel to assume a feminine form, this picture is not, strictly speaking, Biblically-based.  That’s not a point against the picture, by the way.

Also, here we see another example of the awesome power of Facebook to bend the will of the Immortals.  Zuckerberg be praised!


PEMDAS

Perhaps you remember learning the Order of Operations in elementary school.  You may have learned Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, or PEMDAS, which tells you that when you evaluate a sequence of mathematical operations, you should first heed anything in parentheses, followed by exponents, multiplication and division (left to right), and addition and subtraction (left to right).  If you’re a PEMDAS purist, you get 7 as the answer:

6 – 1 x 0 + 2 / 2

6 – 0 + 1

6 + 1

7

Here’s the trouble: contrary to what you may have been taught, there is no single correct Order of Operations, as this video demonstrates.  In fact, the Order of Operations we’re taught in school is quite arbitrary.  This problem could be correctly evaluated to give several different answers, which means it is ambiguous and therefore useless.  Writing intentionally vague math problems and then demanding that your audience use one particular Order of Operations to get a prescribed answer does not show how smart or dumb your audience is; it shows how much of a pedant you are.


Two Different Bands

Ah, so the message is: Throw your money around and you’ve got a dance partner, but put a ring on it and you’ve got a slave!  Classy.

Now I know there are women who happily make their living as housewives, cooking and cleaning and so on, and that’s okay.  I’m just really uncomfortable with the idea that a marriage band mandates a woman to that kind of life.  I just can’t get rid of this idea that a marriage should be an equal partnership, with each partner able to pursue his or her ambitions.  The view of marriage expressed in this meme is…well, it’s kind of Medieval.

Your Fault For Being Offended

Your Fault If You're Offended

Wow, I am really confused about what’s going on in this pile-up of emoticons. Only one-third of them seem to be enjoying it. Five of them look genuinely uncomfortable, and one is apparently trying to find his calm place. Whatever’s going on in this party, it probably needs to stop. But enough about the bizarre and possibly illegal emoticon orgy. Let’s talk about the heart of this meme: people who deny their responsibility to not be jerks.

I’ve seen several variations of this meme during my travels through this vast Internet. Though the wording varies, the message is always the same: it’s your issue if you’re offended by something I’ve said, written, or done. In other words: I’m blameless. In other other words: I’m too self-centered to care about anybody’s emotional well-being besides my own.

I wish that people who post memes like this, or who express agreement with the sentiments therein, would recite a simple daily affirmation:

I accept that some people are going to be offended by the things I do. I may not agree with the reason they are offended, but I will respect their right to be offended without trying to make it all about them. I will apologize even if I don’t really understand why, because I know that social cohesion is based on people playing nice even when they don’t feel like it. Also, I understand that my refusal to apologize for having unintentionally offended someone constitutes obnoxiousness in the first degree – that is, pre-meditated obnoxiousness. I accept and understand that the penalty for first-degree obnoxiousness is loss of esteem among my peers and a growing consensus that I’m sort of a jerk.

Surely everybody would be better off.

By the way…if anything in this post offended you, feel free to leave me a scathing comment. I won’t refer to you as “butt-hurt” or anything like that, and I might even apologize! I’m just cool like that.

Politically Cracked

Tired of Political Correctness

When the phrase politically correct was first used, it had a much more literal meaning. During the early 20th century, debates raged between hardline Communists (who adhered rigidly to Stalinist doctrine) and the less dogmatic Socialists. From the Socialists’ perspective, the Communists had defined what was “correct” to believe, politically speaking. Anybody who toed the Communist party line was therefore politically correct.

If right wingers are aware of the historical connection between political correctness and Communism, they aren’t very vocal about it. I’m surprised; I never expect a conservative to pass up an opportunity to conflate a liberal idea with something un-American.

At any rate, the phrase politically correct has evolved dramatically since the 1950’s. When liberals appropriated the phrase near the end of the 20th century, they changed its meaning to something less Orwellian: self-restraint from saying or doing things that would marginalize or discriminate against minority groups, particularly those that are already socially or economically disadvantaged. Almost overnight it became de rigueur to say Native American instead of Indian (unless you happen to be referring to somebody from Mumbai, of course). Gender neutral firefighters and salespeople replaced firemen and saleswomen. And of course it became more appropriate to refer to your black neighbor as African American or, more recently, as a person of color (although the last term can refer to any non-white person). And Morgan Freeman wishes you wouldn’t bring it up at all.

While we’re on the topic… Don’t confuse true political correctness with mock political correctness. Calling a short person vertically challenged doesn’t do anything to avoid discriminating against a minority group (although it is kind of funny).

You can offend people and still be PC; in fact, making a conscious effort to be politically correct will offend just about any conservative. When late December rolls around and winter’s chill is in the air, try saying “Happy holidays” or “Season’s greetings” to an RWCM (rich white Christian male) conservative. I guarantee he’ll get so angry he’ll froth at the mouth. There: you’ve been offensive and inclusive. Everybody wins!