First, if you find the title of this piece offensive, consider the following.
Merriam-Webster states the word idiot is outdated and offensive. It also lists 80 synonyms, most of which are apparently not considered outdated and offensive. At least, none of the ones I checked through M-W came up that way. Admittedly, I did not take the time to run them all.
Suffice it to say, “idiot” is dated, and offensive. On the other hand, airhead, birdbrain, chowderhead, ignoramus, nimrod, and fool are descriptive nouns. Interestingly, some of the words M-W does not flag as “dated and offensive” use the term idiot as a definition. For instance, nimrod is defined as ” slang : IDIOT, JERK.”
Okay! The question now is this. Do I have a point, or am I merely attempting to push the edge of the envelope to catch your attention? I genuinely hope I have a point, and I can communicate it understandably. Of course, you will be the judge of how well I accomplish my goal.
The incident inspiring this essay, or rant, was a “news” piece catching my eye when I opened my browser. The headline was: “Family outraged after a Universal character made ‘OK’ symbol on 6-year-old’s shoulder.”
My first thought was, “Are you kidding me?” Then, I clicked the link and read the piece. I guess with all the mundane issues in the news over the last year or two, you know, the Muller Report, the impeachment inquiry, the turmoil in Hong Kong, North Korean missile testing, and the latest Jenner gossip, I missed a significant development. The hand gesture to signify things are “OK” is now considered hate speech!
All right! Maybe at my age, I simply forgot the latest outrage in the hate speech dialogue. Whatever the truth of that statement, the title of this piece stands. No, the parents in question are neither ignorant nor idiots for their reaction when they noticed or were told, the cartoon character was flashing a white supremacist sign over their bi-racial daughter’s shoulder. They had, given the world in which we live today, every right to be outraged. One does not go on vacation to be insulted or used as a propaganda prop by an amusement park actor.
The video clearly shows the actor intentionally making the upside-down okay sign. That use of the sign is now considered by many to be hate speech, and there is evidence white supremacists have deliberately adopted the gesture as a symbol of hate. The idiot in the costume appears to have intentionally insulted the family. Either that or his or her level of ignorance toward this matter was even more significant than mine. I find that hard to believe, as an innocent gesture would have been the universal sign for okay, not the inverted form.
So, to whom does the title above apply? In some ways, it applies to all of us. We all, as human beings, have a tendency to jump on the bandwagon without checking to see where it is going. Humans, for the most part, are joiners, or as the Bible says, sheep. We go with or follow the flow, and social media gives us instant access to a multitude of bandwagons.
In this case, it appears a group of satirists decided to prank some within the general population and social media users specifically. They decided to claim the almost universal finger sign for okay was now being used as a symbol of “White Power.” They claimed the gesture used by divers worldwide to indicate they were okay, or your equipment was okay, or they had your back was being subverted by nefarious forces to send a message of hate.
It was supposed to be a joke. It was supposed to make people who overreacted look foolish. It was a prank! The problem was the world of social media is full of people who fall into the category described by the outdated and offensive term in the title. The other problem was those initiating this tomfoolery were ignorant of, or ignored, the potential pandora’s box they were opening.
It seems others within the social media universe jumped on the bandwagon with a vengeance. They helped spread the misinformation to the point those within the white supremacist movement picked it up, initially according to some as a joke on their critics. Sadly, the Alt-Right, WP crowd decided they liked the way their critics and opponents reacted and decided to adopt the inverted okay hand signal as a gang sign of sorts. Now, anyone using the sign, in any fashion runs the risk of being considered a racist.[i]
To close, let me make a point I have made in the past. A point I will continue to make when something such as this comes to my attention. Social media is an effective way to stay connected, make new connections, share stories, raise money, fight for causes, and so on and so forth. It is also a dangerous tool, even a weapon, when used by mean spirited, evil, or ignorant people. If you are mean spirited or evil, there is little I or anyone else can do, at least through social media, to change you. On the other hand, ignorance can be cured.
I was ignorant of the development concerning the okay sign until I noticed the post about the family mentioned earlier. That is no longer the case. If you are reading this, you can reduce your level of ignorance or increase your understanding by remembering the following:
- Do not believe any so-called news, revelation or other noteworthy nonpersonal posts on social media until you have researched it yourself.
- Do not like, forward, share, or repost something that might be controversial until you have given it some thought.
- If you just enjoy poking the bear, so to speak, by posting things you know will upset some friend or acquaintance of a different faith, political philosophy, or whatever, quit! Do that in person or privately through PM or snail mail.
- If you are one of those people who simply enjoys stirring things up and posting information you know is not true just to see how many people you can enrage or deceive, go to Washington and, join the clowns up there.
[i] I feel it appropriate to note, even the Anti-Defamation League, which is often quick to point the racist accusing finger at people suggests caution when accusing someone of being a white supremacist just because they flash the okay gesture.
© oneoldcop.com – 2019