Sometimes we hear someone huffing with anger, “I can say Merry Christmas if I want to!!!” And they are correct in their assertion – while being incorrect in their anger. Some act as if Congress passed a law against saying Merry Christmas – no such thing has happened, and it will never happen in the United States of America. Free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution – and yes, the Constitution remains the governing document of our country.
Take this example:
OK – who says? Who? Should I ask again? Who said we cannot say Merry Christmas?
We can say anything we want – this is America after all. I could say, “Charlie Brown is white trash, just a white nigger” if I want. Would the FBI and ATF come knocking down my door to arrest me for using a bad word?
If I said the same thing in a crowded shopping mall on Christmas Eve might I get a reaction? Absolutely!! People would steer clear of the nut because he likely has a gun and wants to kill us all. Would they be wrong?
If I am running for President of the United States and have enough polling points to qualify for a Fox News Debate could I say, on live television, “President Obama is a nigger Muslim”? Yes I could. Might the Justice Department of the U.S. Government be knocking on my door before I even arrived home?
Would I likely get the Republican nomination for President? That is a different question. There are no laws governing the language a candidate for President can use – this attribute of free speech falls under the category of ‘social regulation’.
Social regulatory mandates are cultural, regional, ethnic, and religious rules that are generally not written – we only know when we violate them by the response of the people around us. A candidate can call Obama a Muslim nigger if he wants – but I don’t have to vote for that person.
Social regulations permeate our lives. Even in the low-life culture of the South Belt Walmart store social regulation rears up – perhaps even more than at the North Belt Walmart. These Walmart stores are located in St. Joseph, Missouri – both on the Belt Highway, the main north/south traffic artery in the city. The North belt store is located in an affluent neighborhood. South Belt not so much.
There is a pork processing plant in St. Joe and the management at Triumph Foods recruits immigrants from Latin American workers to keep the wages low. These are hard working people with families and they shop in small gangs at the South Belt Walmart. In this case ‘gang’ means familiarity, safety (although I have seen them outside of the Latino food section). Right away we conjure images of mexicans operating in gangs to better shoplift frm the store – but this is not the case at all – these people worked hard for their money and they are purchasing groceries to feed their families. It is the white trash roaming the aisles that are most photographed and put on facebook. Can I say “white trash”? It is an offensive term, not at all politically correct, but I can say it if I want to incur the wrath of the politically correct.
The point is that social regulation is sometimes confused with political correctness.
I said in an earlier post that the political correctness governing farting on the elementary school playground is different that that of my mother’s kitchen. So politeness is dependent on circumstances or geography.
Enter the media. This post could not be published in the St. Joseph News Press because I used non-politically correct words. Like nigger and white trash. These terms are offensive. They are offensive to all but the most calloused of cultures. The “media”, whatever that is, seems to have a code of correctness more like my mother’s kitchen. There are some things one just does not do. And this media holds candidates to their standard – whether the general population agrees or not.
For instance: Generally media types do not affirm terms like “Illegal Alien”. They never use the ‘n’ word or the ‘f’ word. Republicans use terms like ‘illegal immigrant’ while democrats use ‘undocumented person’. Some democrats make a big toot about the application of the word ‘illegal’ when identifying a person. They say there is no such thing as an illegal person, only illegal behavior. This causes conservatives hair pulling torment and angst.
The media is responding to changing cultures – responding to social regulation. Fifty years ago I worked in a Police Station. The word ‘nigger’ was used wantonly on the police radio by white police officers. Like this: “Unit 14 to Unity 29. Those niggers giving you trouble over there?” It was a common practice. In today’s world a police officer would lose his job over such language. I think justly so.
We are no longer just five white guys sitting around the wood stove at the general store on Saturday morning. We are facebook and twitter and social media – those places where social regulation take charge.
We can say whatever we want. We can do what we want. We can act how we want. But in every case there are consequences. We have to be willing to accept the consequences. This applies also to political candidates.
P.S. I have to add this joke – it may be an affront to a particular human identity but it is funny. Should this sort of humor be banned?