This has nothing to do with writing, though it is partly inspired by some stuff I’ve seen in the SF/F blogosphere lately. Sorry in advance for that.
Heard today about the decline of the Tribune company, which once managed some of the most respected newspapers in the United States. There are probably a lot of reasons why the company fell apart, not the least of which is the general decline of print media overall, but I was struck by this article’s descriptions of changes that occurred at the company headquarters when new management took over. Among other things, the new boss and his cronies changed the employee handbook to include this gem:
“Working at Tribune means accepting that you might hear a word that you, personally, might not use,” the new handbook warned. “You might experience an attitude you don’t share. You might hear a joke that you don’t consider funny. That is because a loose, fun, nonlinear atmosphere is important to the creative process.” It then added, “This should be understood, should not be a surprise and not considered harassment.”
My first reaction to this is, fun for who? Probably not the people getting bombarded with these problematic words and unfunny jokes. Sales of Tribune newspapers dropped precipitiously in the subsequent years, so it sounds like the staff wasn’t all that inspired to new heights of creativity by this policy, either.
My second reaction to this is, I’m getting really, really sick of the idea that respecting your fellow human beings is somehow restrictive or oppressive or damaging to creativity, productivity, the genre, whatever. I keep running into this kind of whining — because that’s what it is — all over the place. Most often I see it coming from older people who resent suddenly having to respect groups they were encouraged to show open contempt for back in the days of their youth. But I’ve seen this attitude among younger people too, so it’s not strictly an artifact of lost historical privilege. It even comes in new interations these days, like Christians who whine about Muslims wanting to be protected from hate crimes, perish the thought, and Americans annoyed that immigrants demand respect for their religion… in a country founded on freedom of religion.
How dare they actually believe this country’s PR? these people seem to be saying. We don’t really want your tired, poor, huddled masses.* We don’t really believe everyone is created equal. Ohhhh, it’s so hard; such a burden to have to think about all this. See how it harms us, stifles us, to give a damn about others? It makes us less creative! It damages the genre! And all these policies that say we can’t harass and belittle and exclude whole groups of people in order to make ourselves feel superior are just so much. How can we function under the bootheel of such oppression?
::sigh:: Sorry for the simulated whining. Was just trying to capture how all this crap sounds to me.
Here’s a thought: if you need to harass and belittle and exclude other people in order to produce or create? You’re insecure at best, a narcissist at worst, and you should get some help for that. If you think empathy and equality are oppressive? You keep using that word, and I do not think it means what you think it means. And if your creativity is so fragile and conditional? Maybe you’re just not that damn creative.
So consider this a plea, on behalf of those of us who are sick of all the whining and doubletalk: please grow a pair. When you complain about political correctness, we hear “Man, if only we were still back in the good ol’ days, when I could stomp all over other people with impunity!” That’s what you really mean, so why not just come right out and say it? Own your selfishness and sadism. And when people hurt you back, or take legal action against you, or call you selfish or a bully or any number of other names, own that too, because you’ve earned it. Have the courage of your convictions. Don’t downplay them, rationalize them, or pretend that you’re the aggrieved party — because no matter how you try to paint yourself as a brave crusader against the thought police, or the innocent victim of the anti-bigotry hordes, nobody’s buying it, except maybe your fellow whiners. Everybody else just thinks you’re stupid and a coward, on top of being selfish and sadistic.
* Note that Paladino’s not differentiating between legal and illegal immigrants. He’s an equal-opportunity hater of the poor. Schmuck.