Recently, the blogs, social networks, and message boards on the Internets have been all abuzz with frantic news reports that the newly appointed New York Times editorial board member, Sarah Jeong, had published messages on the Twitter social media platform some years ago that many have found to be indistinguishable from the trite canards of hate speech.
Surely, even speech at its most hateful and disgusting deserves protection under the First Amendment, and Ms. Jeong certainly had every right in the world to publish her views, as uncompassionate-seeming, judgmental-looking, and narrow-minded-feeling as they were, and are. I think Ms. Jeong truly meant well, I really do, even if the outcome was less-than-good.
However, when we look more carefully at the content of the Tweets in question, I find that although I support Sarah Jeong’s every right to speak, think, and act freely, precisely as !she! chooses, I cannot help but feel that perhaps such disrespectful, hateful, and damaging public messages are mutually exclusive with Ms. Jeong’s newly appointed position working as editor charged with technology topics at the Times.
It’s time Ms.Jeong distances herself from her statements; by this I do not mean the content, but rather the means of conveying such content, the actual language; no need to renounce her dedication to fighting for those who could use some help.
And of course, many congratulations, to Ms. Jeong, truly! Her new position means many will be challenging her because of her views and how she chose to express them publicly; hopefully Sarah Jeong will think of these as opportunities to demonstrate her caring character and strong moral fiber. How we respond to others is important; it shows a lot.
I am not a cruel person and so do not wish to see Ms. Jeong fired or demoted, necessarily even, and certainly not end up homeless or permanently ostracized from the news industry! However, some accountability is in order. Merely acknowledging that this was not the best way to communicate her ideas is probably not enough.
Ms. Jeong states that, “…these comments were not aimed at a general audience…”, however, even with context, the content of the tweets does nothing to help the reader understand whom the precise target of the tweets was; the language is far too vague and inclusive, the groups too overarchingly broad. An apology is in order, for sure. While Ms. Jeong states she “regrets” her statements, one may easily regret an error that calls one’s reputation into question, without being truly sorry to the parties harmed by such error.
Think of all those included in the group: White people who are poor along with those who are wealthy, the disenfranchised as well as well-connected, boys, girls, Grandmas, Grandpas, cousins, sisters, brothers, everyone. No one should have to contend with an editor of a well-respected newspaper wanting any group of people, their own or any other, “cancelled”.
It’s just wrong. An effective writer is clear; a good editor seeks clarity in all she edits. Surely, clarity of intent, as well as clarity of meaning, are both on sabbatical in the instance of these tweets.
Of course, these messages were tweeted out a few years ago, and Sarah Jeong was not yet an NYT editor. From all appearances, Sarah is a woman deeply concerned with contemporary social issues in America, and freely identifies with those less fortunate.
At the time, her tweets numbered a few among a far wider field of such mean-sounding tweets, from all sides. My feeling is that we should all cut her some slack, and permit Jeong the opportunity to distance herself from her more youthfully angsty, rebellious sentiment and statements.
As long as such online messages are following the rules of the private system they were posted to, however, we must do our best to ascertain the meaning of all this and grow as a society together, as well as consider the unspoken implications of these mean-spirited-sounding posts, as such are now (a permanent) part of the online fabric of our collective meaning and expression. As for Twitter, it seems that Sarah Jeong’s posts shall stand. Forever.
That’s fine. Twitter can enforce their rules as they see fit. It is a private space after all. Odd how free-market people with views more to the Right speak exasperatedly about enacting government control over private online space; this paradox confounds, surely; this runs counter to everything such people usually claim to want for a future.
Now that we’re stuck with Ms. Jeong’s words, let’s delve deeper still. Sarah Jeong is Asian-American, and she has provided hateful messages she’s received online over the years, from people attacking her (perceived) sexuality, attacking her race, attacking her national origin, all because of her stated political views.
While all this is truly heinous, I wonder whether she ever experienced such terribly alienating bias in real life, or offline, if you will, outside of any politically charged context, for instance at Harvard, where she received her education. Sarah is a “…woman of color”, as she rightfully describes herself, and identifies with the narratives of other women of color, like Hispanic and Black women. That is truly noble.
Even so, I do believe that Sarah Jeong has likely experienced racism because of her appearance and gender in real life like she clearly has online. But online, it’s likely far worse. People online, on all sides, generally have no regard for those with opposing (or different) ideas, and forget they’re talking with other living, breathing beings.
Hiding behind a screen, many feel emboldened to dump on others. At least in face-to-face interactions, we would hope all sides respect one another’s person-hood enough to listen and keep from hurtful, destructive language.
Are these not considered biased tweets simply because these comments are directed at Whites, as opposed to a marginalized group such as American Blacks? Or, because Ms. Jeong is an Asian-American, a Woman of Color? Some claim that racism against White folks is an impossibility, considering the long-standing power differential between Whites and other groups, as well as our unique history of race relations here in the United States.
To this fallacious argument, I reply that racism and bias exist worldwide, sometimes among two or more groups totally ignorant of the four hundred (plus) year drama yet unfolding between White and Black people here in America, always with their own unique and complex histories.
Any time any person hates another because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, perceived gender, nation of origin, or ethnicity, it’s bias, plain and simple. Trying to deconstruct the issue and re-frame it any other way is disingenuous and counter-productive to our seeking of actual Truth and Understanding.
In fact, there is great confusion because some of the more recognizable Power Brokers on Earth are White people. However, at such levels of world power we find Middle Easterners, Asians, Europeans, Americans of diverse background, and people inhabiting lands flung far and wide across the globe. It’s far from a White Man’s club; that’s merely a meme.
The country with the largest growing number of new Forbes billionaires is not America, but rather China, a communist state experimenting (quite successfully, apparently!) with free markets. Just another lazy meme.
Clearly, the notion that “Whites” oppress(ed) “Blacks” (or even Asians), does not take into account that there are many, many more disenfranchised White people than White folks at the top. And, many more White people had nothing at all to do with slavery or even segregation, having arrived at Ellis Island from Europe dirt poor and settling in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, nearly literally, or then moving out West and North, spreading slowly.
Could such people have been racist? Certainly, though most would not be in any position of individual power to yield much sway in oppressing anyone, and aside from those (relatively) few joining organized groups that had sprung up here and there across the country, using questionable, and often violent and unlawful methods to oppress, these majority poor Whites had no means of oppressing anyone, White, Black, or any color. But of course, some were racist, either way.
These White Europeans may have even experienced real and serious racism at the hands of other Whites. The largest mass lynching in the United States was not against African-Americans, but rather Sicilians. This happened in Louisiana in 1890, after a murder of a police superintendent, and a mob took care of the rest.
Is this what the Sicilian-American Mob was formed for, defense of Sicilians from lynch mobs (in addition to smuggling Canadian Prohibition whiskey a few decades later, of course)? Sicilians experienced many other terrible episodes of racism at the hands of other whites in the South in the 1890s. Are we to somehow compartmentalize this in our minds when we consider racism against Black people in the South? Or how Native Americans were treated at the time, in the same place?
Ironically, some White people can recount experiencing racism on car trips with the family to Florida through the Deep South, where dark-skinned Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards, and other Southern Europeans had to worry about hate and vitriol directed against their own families, back in the 60s and prior!
Living in urban areas back up North, people (pretty much) learned to coexist. This was proven by the higher numbers of inter-racial babies born over time. It isn’t just an illusion or nice-sounding words; this is what happened over the generations. Racism still exists; racism will always exist as long as people choose to entertain such vile feelings and ideas.
While Eddie Murphy’s 1980s’ SNL skit about the ever-present White culture he discovers (while cosmetically adjusted to appear White, as well as learning how to “walk White” with a stiff butt) that’s like a wonderful 24/7 party hidden from Black people, is surely genius comedy, truly hilarious, hinting at many areas we should all take a better look at while making us laugh, there is, in my experience, little cohesiveness among White folks merely because of skin color.
Ethnicity, religion, national origin, yes; if a person who’s Macedonian-Italian is going for a job at a place run by Macedonian or Italian people, surely it’s a foot in the door. But if he’s Irish or Scottish? It’s doubtful. The cultures are not one and the same; there is no monolithic “White culture”, just as there’s no single Black culture.
If the owner of a newspaper is a native of Portugal and I greet her with, “Komu eshta?” and ramble on in her tongue with the ease of a native speaker, I know I’m good (at least getting to the next phase of hiring)! Of course, this is all assuming I’m qualified for the position; I think any wise business owner would rather have a qualified Black, Indian, Asian, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, or White person performing the duties of the job best, rather than simply going with a candidate who can only claim that they’re the best choice for the job because their last name is similar to that of the business owner. That’s just dumb.
And of course, there’s Classism, something most people with Leftist ideologies should definitely know all about. The Upper Class and Upper Middle Class White folks have little to do with Working Class or Struggling Poor White people faring even worse, in terms of how these groups socialize and interact.
Just because both happen to be “white” doesn’t mean very much, in reality. People inhabit different social spheres, even those of the same race, national origin, or faith. Possibly, their only interaction would be between a donor to a nonprofit and the recipients helped by the foundation, if the nonprofit focused on human aid. And of course, such aid is truly color blind, so this proves nothing. Or, possibly encountering a working class white while being served in some capacity, as there are yet many service jobs available for all.
“Whiteness” is not a culture; the distinct Black cultures in America, from Southern to Louisiana Creole (…”Colonists referred to themselves and enslaved Black people who were native-born as creole” – Wikipedia “Louisiana Creole” entry), to Northeast Urban, evolved in specific sets of harsh and unforgiving circumstances; White people did not arrive here as slaves, as the few Black people who survived the terrible cross-ocean journey, did. While death was harsh, survival was harsher, though survive and thrive many Black people did, in time.
Mahatma Ghandi quelled the bias of Muslims by Hindus, the bias of Hindus by Muslims, by uniting all of India for a time, now so many decades ago, under his banner of nonviolent resistance referred to as Satyagraha, roughly translated from Hindi as “Soul Force.”
In retrospect, it seems unbelievable that any one person could accomplish anything like this. Are we to believe, as some avid social justice advocates in America claim, that such bias is qualitatively different than bias between other groups elsewhere in the world, or even within the borders of the US? True, every case of bias has its own unique history, but who are we to grade and compare which are legitimate cases of bias, and which are not, using our own concepts and history as a measuring rod of authenticity?
Bias is bias, simply.
Somehow, because of the history of the former American institution of slavery, some feel that only our own American narrative of less-than-stellar race relations is “real” racism, and certainly only when perpetrated by White people against Black people, a seriously ethnocentric view devoid of heart and soul, or any real analysis.
And, unlike the social awareness movement that swept the US in the 1960s and early 70s, American Indians are nowhere to be found, to any significant degree, in any of these present-day social justice crusades by those on the Left. This group, the peoples indigenous to our Lands, were also heavily marginalized, and over time have fared comparatively poorly, in many instances. Many modern-day thinkers on the Left talk about racism and forget all about the plight of the American Natives and Canadian First Peoples.
Whether groups experience social conflict over race, religion, sexual orientation, or other perceived differences makes little difference, really. It all hurts; it all causes real pain and crippling emotional and mental distress, and eventually real physical sickness as well.
Of course, there may be (members of) a group in power oppressing another group; there may be deeply ingrained racist attitudes (among some) even though institutional racism has been (largely) quashed by Rule of Law. Certainly, there are still significant issues Black people face, that may fall under the category of institutional racism, such as some disparities in prison sentencing for drugs (which may be argued as Classist as well), quality of health care, and more.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t grow up hearing about stories of oppression from my Dad’s friends, how “Driving While Black” was a serious offense in Los Angeles even in the 1990s (well before Rodney King). But those stories are about unspoken, unwritten bias, quite different than hearing other stories about performing in the Deep South as a Black musician during segregation times, right before its close when racism was perhaps at its ugliest. That was truly institutional racism, while the first example is just a product of deeply ingrained racism that just won’t go away; not at all the same.
However, on an *individual* basis, a member of the oppressed group may act and speak with bias (including violence and hate) against a member of the group that includes the (perceived) oppressors, even though such members of the oppressor group (race/religion/etc.) have nothing at all to do with this longstanding situation, even remotely. Clearly, this is just another lame example of stereotyping blindly. Love is blind, we’re told, but stereotyping blinds us. Not quite the same thing.
Vox writer Zack Beauchamp argues that “#CancelWhitePeople”, and other disturbing messages by Jueng on Twitter, are part of a different lexicon, a vernacular particular to the marginalized groups that Jeong, and the Left at large, seek to represent ( undeniably with good cause). These are socially-aware people; they are seeking to make change, however discarding Positivity and Mutual Understanding, and what are we all to work with in building bridges? (This goes for the Right as well.)
People embracing such Left-leaning ideas feel that in no way was Jeong calling for physical violence against White Americans, and also seem to believe that if one is not part of this activist sub-culture, then one (absolutely) won’t “get” the true meaning behind the message; it’s easily misunderstood, only something that certain individuals and groups (“in the know”) will rightly recognize as NOT violent hate speech, but rather just dramatic expression. This doesn’t sound egalitarian, and further seems a situation of ambiguity ripe for confusion, anything but a clear way of conveying meaning beyond the in-group.
The target of these attacks, namely White people, is in no way privy to such understanding, unless already involved with Leftist ideas of using violent language to imply nonviolent change, according to Mr. Beauchamp’s explanation.
Keeping this discussion presently confined to the topic of this one hashtag, #CancelWhitePeople, this one statement only, and a serious issue remains. “Cancel white people” may be a hash-tag on Twitter, but it’s also an imperative sentence (command), one of the four basic types of sentences.
It’s a complete thought, with a subject (implied as “you”, the reader, the person being addressed and requested to “take action”), and a verb predicating action against the group being objectified, namely White people. “Cancel” is actually a word derived from the Latin verb “cancellare“, which passed down to us after first maturing into the Old French “canceller”. It’s meaning is clear: cancel means to end something, to finish it finally, to make it “history”. Clear enough, no?
This is undeniably a call to violent action (or materially indistinguishable from such) and not merely protest and acceptable resistance; if Martin Shkreli was found to be endangering lives because some unhinged person might have taken him seriously for his wacky online comments about desiring a hair from Senator Clinton to prove she wasn’t a space alien, when such statements were clearly framed as part of a longstanding one-man comedy routine, entertaining or not, his actions were dangerous and irresponsible enough to warrant his bail being revoked at the time, merely because he joked around in a decidedly uncouth and irresponsible manner. Someone could have been hurt by his keyboard diarrhea, the US Federal Judge assigned to his case quickly decided.
What if a reader of Sarah Jeong’s tweets isn’t part of her exclusive anti-establishment sub-culture, yet identifies with the underlying message? What if that person has violent tendencies…and what if that same hypothetical individual this message resonates with suffers from untreated, un-medicated, !significant! mental health issues? “Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.” -NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health Statistics)
Could someone wrongly misunderstand that these Tweets are not a call to actual violence, even if the tweets are actually not intended as such, as Ms. Jeong claims? Is it really a stretch to assume that a (admittedly quite small) percentage of Twitter users, and now readers of news stories and consumers of video news reports, may not understand the humor in this, and an even smaller subset of mentally ill people may take this command literally, as a suggested course of violent action and become radicalized against their own fellow Citizens?
It is my personal hope that Sarah Jeong further addresses this issue forthright; biased individuals publicly displaying such sentiment have no place in New York City’s, and the world’s, most respected periodical, especially when they do not understand the power of words to incite all manner of responses. I don’t care, particularly, that her diatribe was about White people. It would be just as sordid and outside the bounds of acceptability were she to write #CancelItalians, #CancelLatinas, #CancelJews, #CancelEskimos, or any other group of people, (presently) marginalized or not.
Such (seemingly?) violent catch phrases have no place on a public forum, where anyone could read this and decide to take action, putting ideas into motion, but we’re stuck with them. If it had been #OvercomeWhitePeople or #RiseAboveWhitePeople, I’d be all for her bravery in standing up to her perceived bully; I’d be right behind her noble efforts at enacting social change for identified issues she wants to help improve in our world.
As long as such messages are determined to fall within the rules of the private computer system they were posted to, however, there is little anyone can do beyond comment on the matter and try to elucidate the quandary.
What about if Ms. Jeong absolutely loves the verb “cancel”, and could not do without its use? #CancelRacism or even #CancelWhiteRacism are two fitting hashtags, neither stinking of pukish vitriol or jaw-grinding rage. As a professional writer, we cannot pretend that such an accomplished wordsmith does not understand the fineness of distinction between various phrases. And, to feign such ignorance is insensible, insincere even.
But let’s be honest: Sarah Jeong did not invent this hash-tag. Did she?
It’s just a phrase people have been using to communicate their desire to end what they see as rampant inequality and White favoritism in all matters. Are all the readers out there even familiar with how Twitter works? Apparently, studies show that the Facebook set doesn’t venture onto Twitter as often as younger people. A hash-tag looks like this: “#equality,” and it’s a way of searching for messages that Twitterers included so that others can later easily find the messages when interested in searching on that particular topic. It’s like a (voluntary) filing system for tweets. OK?
Let’s suppose that no one takes such directives literally, and we all understand it’s just a hash-tag, a way of organizing and later retrieving tweets. OK. Let’s further suppose that there is no hazard or physical threat to White children, elderly White folks, or other White Americans. Would such tweets be acceptable, then? In the context of her OTHER tweets about White people, there is clearly a pattern of behavior that suggests (potential) ill will toward White people, and not merely a desire to help encourage social change.
Can we accept hate in any form? That is the question today; whether directed at Blacks, Whites, Mexicans, or members of any other group, the clear answer – no – should be staring us all in the face, boldly beckoning us to consider the matter even more carefully. After all, this is an exercise in Being Americans, and we all have our say, our own unique perspective worth sharing…as long as such sharing is done respectfully, of course.
Is hate speech healthy?
Certainly, most readers already know the answer: Of course hate speech is unhealthy; unrest in communities causes stress to individuals and families, and hate speech is a surefire way to stir up resentment and fear in any targeted community, group, nation, or demographic.
Then, there’s the stress of being a victim of such an attack directly, as well as the doubtless real stress of merely witnessing such as a third party, watching others being attacked and marginalized in such a crude and uncivilized manner. It’s enough to raise pulses and set emotions on edge; to ignore why White people, or any other people in support of White folks, consider this language retrograde and out-of-sync, is to ignore the language and words in question.
Racism, sexism, genderism, ageism, ableism, bias in any form of speech or online written commentary or “humor/satire” pollutes and degrades our social fabric. Hate speech also takes a valued message of needed societal self-examination and trashes it, replacing cool analysis and warm compassion with cold, dark, raging hatred.
In fact, these nasty biases cause undue stress and suffering, and erode our sense of community; America is a melting pot if nothing else; argue that this metaphor misses the mark and America’s a more pluralistic “salad bowl” instead, a better description of the sociological scene in American society today, and such inflammatory, hurtful, and insensitive speech still has no place at all. Either way one chooses to look at the world and America, hate speech has NO place.
Can written hateful diatribes merely get shrugged off as slightly insensitive jokes? Is it that easy to be a biased individual and then pretend one is actually not, leaning on your own race, ethnicity, or gender identity, to name but a few ways writers may hide from their own disturbing shared musings?
The Times is claiming that Ms. Jeong’s comments were, in fact, satirical responses to bias directed at HER by such groups, “counter-trolling” if you will, to borrow from Ms. Jeung. But does this claim stand the test of real scrutiny? Claiming that these were just “mocking the tone” of *true* oppressors is lame, and could conceivably be used as an excuse to spout hatred, as long as it wasn’t done first, anywhere, any time.
Let’s consider what else Sarah Jeong had to say: “While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers.” What, I wonder, was satirical about trash talking men, police officers, White people? When did police officers ever troll Ms. Jeung and use similar language? I can assure the reader that this NEVER happened, yet there are those tweets, all the same, here for us all to contemplate.
Does anyone even recall the definition of satire? Well, here’s a refresher: Satire is the use of “humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.” The word first passed into the language in the sixteenth century, from French, and earlier the Latin, “satura“, meaning “poetic medley”, usually referring to a poem focusing on then-contemporary vices or hard-headedness.
A bevy of bluntly anti-law enforcement tweets: “f*** the police” , “cops were s*** even before broken windows policing”, and more, as well as other “literary gems” of (the former limit of) 140 character Twitter brevity directed unapologetically against men, such as: “kill more men”.
Perhaps the idea of irony is lost on me; it definitely isn’t due to a lack of sincere will to try to understand where the humor lies in such tweets. How are these statements ironic, exactly? And why are so many on the Left all about censorship of everyone else but those sharing their own views? That’s not really the definition of a Liberal!
Jerry Seinfeld is a Master of the Art of Comedy, and a good amount of his material requires us all to strip ourselves of any dumb pride, or even a sense of anger at ANY subject being targeted by Mr. Seinfeld in his past show with the same name: His jokes were witty and brilliant commentary and social record of many quirky aspects of 1990s American life in New York City. Everyone was fair game. EVERYONE. No “Sacred Cows” Here. Still, there was a real innocence and respect to it all; there was never an intent to hurt anyone, just playfully make us laugh ’til our sides split.
Recently, I made a crude joke (in private company) in quite poor taste. I was speaking regarding what I feel some media activists would likely wish as a fate for Mr. Seinfeld; honestly, I stated that it seems some of those seeking politically correct speech for all might imagine the King of Comedy (here and now so dubbed) to suffer the same fate as the World’s Most Famous Jewish Man of All Time, the “Other” King (with an even bigger audience than Mr. Seinfeld, now in re-runs for over 2000 years)!
Yikes. A Truly Tasteless Joke. Juvenile and puerile. Rude, even.
The person whom I told it to wasn’t fazed; he turned out to be an Atheist. How ironic. Either way, he didn’t find it particularly funny.
Still, I apologized for this immediately after saying such, as it just didn’t seem right. Jews and Christians are living people, and people of sometimes great faith, and there was just something inherently disrespectful in what I so casually stated for the sake of a laugh. I was only trying to make a somewhat (greatly) exaggerated comparison; I considered a future social climate so cold that comedians are afraid to make jokes. So I made an extra-bold one myself, and in the process I think I disrespected too many, even though this was not told publicly. Well, now it has been, but with an explanation.
But was my joke at all hateful? Do I say I hate Jews? Christians? Jesus? Comedians, even? Is it ever even implied? Clearly, the answer is a definite NO. I was just proving a point, in a colorful (and far-less-than-politically-correct) manner, using a comparison that fits the idea. However, many will find this joke disrespectful, as religious matters, and faith itself even, are respected topics in polite society, and daring to say something that compares a stand-up comedian to the Christian Messiah probably borders on insanity, at least by 12th century Church standards.
Even so, as tasteless as my own joke was, I did not call for violence against anyone, nor make blanket condemnations against any group. If anything, I’ve elevated Jerry Seinfeld to the level of “comedy gawd”. (How’s that for pressure to live up to a GOLD standard next season, Mr. Seinfeld?! lol Just kidding; JS never fails to deliver!)
Today, we can still be faithful without taking ourselves nearly so seriously, thankfully! Still, I felt that saying this was somehow disrespectful to Christians , as well as Jews (but not Mr. Seinfeld, personally). In future, I likely will not joke around in this way. It can be too hurtful, and my intention wasn’t to hurt, disrespect, or diminish anyone’s faith in any way.
Some people literally do call for violence against others as a (misguided) means of solving problems; it isn’t beyond conception that we may one day have a future where people are afraid to perform comedy live for fear of offending someone and inciting violence or being screamed down for doing performance art. Let’s hope not. No; let’s *pray* not. (Atheists can send good vibes!) Society should never come to that point.
Perhaps that’s the highest mark of an artist, having hordes coming with (virtual Internet) torches to persecute that individual for creating so freely, with such abandon and trueness? Can we accept that Ms. Jeong is a brilliant satirist, a comedian of epic proportions, and all of this controversy is in response to her unbridled genius?
Perhaps some of the material featured on the show Seinfeld might not have been so well-received had it been produced in the last few years instead of decades ago; perhaps there would have been zero issues, regardless when it was made, because the show was always just so very funny and interesting.
The social mores of the 1990s were without a doubt, somewhat different than today, and what’s labeled hateful now was often just plain funny in yesteryear. True, comedians were freely more controversial and surely not at all concerned with hurting feelings, but at least these pent-up emotions had a positive shared outlet, a healthy way of being addressed without hate.
Wait. Go back. The 1990s as “yesteryear”? Yes; it’s happened; the 1990s are now just a vague and distant memory like the 1890s, fuzzy images cemented together into a cohesive Time Frame by our memories and TV shows and Kodak photo prints in the closet, carefully arranged in neat albums with floral print covers, not quite so garish and gaudy as those (even older) photo albums from the 70s, or as vibrantly green, orange, or yellow, for that matter. In time, things change.
In any case, Jerry Seinfeld is a stand-up comic, clearly on stage (or a stage set or now even in incredibly cool cars) to entertain us, to make us laugh and get into the present moment, to be real. For this, I am incredibly grateful to Mr. Seinfeld; humor is the mark of a mirthful soul and levity can take a serious issue and render it more palatable and agreeable. Plus, it’s just great (and healthy, considering the bent of this article journal, this should be particularly important to our subscribers) to laugh and laugh and feel good doing so.
We know Seinfeld was created with the viewer’s laughter and giddiness in mind, first and foremost, and can in no way be taken as Jerry Seinfeld’s personal opinions on *anything*. Like the comedian says, it’s a show about nothing. Seinfeld pokes fun at everything and everyone, and manages to get us to reflect deeply on life, in the hilarious process.
If you’re a Seinfeld viewer, perhaps you wonder whether his character’s love for breakfast cereals was a true-to-life characteristic of Mr. Seinfeld at the time of his show’s debut and subsequent successful run? I’m guessing yes. Anyone who’s a fan and knows for sure, or even Mr. Seinfeld himself, please kindly reply and let us all know; finding out for sure would finally put the matter to rest in all of our minds, finally and forever.
The same cannot be said for Ms. Jeong’s tweets. She is not a comedian, and thus we cannot possibly place her comments in such a light, even if we try. Plus, they’re just not that funny.
Of course, I am not suggesting that Ms. Jeong (literally) wants to hang White people out to dry like the wash before the clothes dryer and modern appliances arrived on the American scene, but we really should consider whether such talk, and use of such harsh-sounding hash-tags and language online), ever brings people together, or just creates more divisiveness and discord, more hatred and less understanding, for all people on ALL sides.
And of course, as stated, that was just a recycled hash-tag, not even a product of her own mind. But what of the other tweets? We should all be thinking more about using language to reach out to those who think differently than ourselves, especially writers and editors, but really all of us.
And finally, to answer the question posed in the title of this piece: In my most sincere estimation, the answer to “When Is Hate(ful-Sounding) Speech Acceptable By A Media Professional?” is that it’s sometimes acceptable, sometimes not. In this situation, NYT has decided it’s acceptable, just something from Sarah Jeong’s past, not any indicator that Sarah hates anyone. Of course, the controversy continues, as not everyone seems to agree. (Edit: Added this conclusion August 8th, 2018)
(Apologies for an UNFINISHED, pre-spell checked, unedited version of this article that was accidentally published August 5rth, 2018, without images! I’ve since decided to stick with the single image of Ghandi, which had been posted as well.
For me, serious writing is a process of writing and re-writing, adding and subtracting, arriving closer and closer to a point of objectivity, so of course many modifications were made! This piece grew and grew, and changed and morphed into its present form with time. Even this disclaimer changed and evolved. 🙂
Also, as a side-note: I CAN type, really I can, but now it’s not a secret that I mistype practically as many words as I type correctly; I don’t care, really; this way, I type super-fast! It works for me.)
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August 24, 2018
We are quite lucky to have Mr. Seinfeld’s wise words on matters related to those discussed in the above article in the recent New York Times piece entitled “Jerry Seinfeld Says Jokes Are Not Real Life” published August 15, 2018. Please enjoy the below exceprt from this most interesting and important interview by Dan Amira with Mr. Seinfeld:
“You’ve been outspoken about stand-up audiences being too sensitive and politically correct these days. Have you ever apologized for a joke?
No. Jokes are not real. People assume that when you say something that you believe it. It’s purely comedic invention. You know, I do this whole bit about Pop-Tarts and how much I love them. I don’t love Pop-Tarts. It’s just funny. It’s funny to say it, so I say it.”
Worlds of thanks to Mr. Seinfeld for his much-welcomed, heartfelt and intelligent words on the topic. And so, we now know that when it comes to breakfast foods and Jerry Seinfeld’s real-life likes, the character “Jerry” on Seinfeld was just that: a character created by a comedian to make us laugh (and reflect).
Sadly, I missed seeing Jerry Seinfeld perform at the Concord when I was younger, though I did see Howie Mandel live doing his “Bobby” character-voice from the cartoon series, Bobby’s World. What Mr. Seinfeld says makes perfect sense; if Bobby enjoyed stewed peas and mashed fruits, that does not mean the comedian behind the laughter felt the same. Of course, concerning more sensitive matters than diet (though that’s getting to be yet another area it’s best not to approach with flexitarians, vegans, paleos, raw foodists, and so many more complex ways to eat food), it’s still the same. Comedy is not politics.