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February 17, 2009

Choosing not to be offended. (updated)

Edited to add this preface: 

For the record, I'm VERY VERY VERY defensive of my girls.  If you insult them, you better be ready to deal with me - and I'm not the least bit afraid of confrontation so it's NOT going to be comfortable for you!  But I don't want to walk through life being pissed off every time someone recites the stupid "Me Chinese, me play joke..." rhyme or pulls on their eyelids or tries to imitate Mandarin language by saying "ching ching" a bunch of times.    
I understand that there are people in this world who genuinely hate other people solely because of the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes but I'll never understand why so many choose to pick THIS particular silly teenage stunt as the mountain upon which to plant their florescent billowing flag of outrage.   
Kids do stupid things - which is precisely why we don't let them get tattoos, marry, drink or vote until they're older.  
We've all been guilty of teenage stupidity and thank goodness we didn't have to grow up in politically over-correct society where everyone was carrying a cell phone with a camera. 
Our kids will grow up with cameras all around them.  Cameras that will capture all their less glamorous moments and make those moments available on YouTube forever.   When I was a kid, I could get mad and mumble under my breath and stomp to my room and slam my bedroom door but our kids will have social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and Twitter that will permanently record all their childish rants and raves and nothing will ever be forgotten.  Nothing.  Ever. 
This has the potential to devistate them so I'm doing everything I can to help them learn to pick and choose carefully what they're going to let emotionally affect them.  If I teach them to never let anything slide, to always be offended any time someone does anything even remotely offensive, then I think I'm doing them a great disservice. 
Now, my original post:


Don't we all really have bigger things to worry about than Miley Cyrus (in the middle of this photo) pulling on her eyelids to look Asian?  Does anyone really think she hates that guy to her right and wants to offend him and all of her Asian fans?  For cryinoutloud, she's 16 and plenty guilty of teenage stupidity but certainly not racism. 

Now she's being sued for 4 billion dollars over this.  Is the plaintiff genuinely offended or just genuinely greedy and hungry for publicity?    By the way, Miley has apologized twice for this photo.  She's claimed that everyone in this photo is her friend and they were just goofing around.  If that's true, then the Asian guy (who, by the way, is obviously trying to make his eyes look really wide) is also her friend.   Should I be offended that he's trying to look like me when I put on mascara?    

These kids should have been coached by their PR-sensitive handlers that antics like this are strictly taboo but they're kids and I think it's written somewhere in the Kid Handbook that children will diligently resist all recommendations of their parents/adult advisers.  At least that's how it seemed when we were raising our first teenager and I'm not expecting it to be any different when our next two (adopted from China) hit their teen years.

So why are members of my local FCC chapter spending many hours writing complaints about this, hinting at Hannah Montana boycotts and suggesting like minded adoptive parents do the same?   Are there really people out there who haven't embraced one of their most important rights of all: The right to choose NOT to be offended?  

I'm constantly frustrated that so many people have been conditioned to have a knee-jerk, negative, reaction to anything and everything that mentions race in any context whatsoever.  As if the mere mention of race makes you a racist.   I remember a newspaper article about a robbery suspect that described the man the police were seeking in great detail but failed to mention his race because the paper wasn't comfortable printing it.  How absurd is that?    

There are very offensive things in this world and they deserve our outrage but this Miley Cyrus picture isn't one of them.  In the end, I believe that it's all about how we choose to interpret things.  We can choose to be offended and constantly walk around with our attorney on speed-dial and our nose bent out of shape or we can choose to give people the benefit of the doubt and enjoy a much happier life.    You'd think more people would choose happiness!  I certainly do and I'm raising children who will do that too.  



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