Blowback

This is not a comment about the value of different ways in which firearms fire, eject, and reload a second shell, but it could be.

Semiautomatic or automatic reloading may be accomplished by several means, and these include blowback, recoil, and gas operation.  The simplest is blowback; “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  “Blowback” is mostly used in the operation of semi-automatic pistols of small caliber like .22 or .32.

Autoloading shotguns and higher caliber semi-automatic pistols and rifles usually employ either recoil or gas ejection.

I’m not sure there is a corollary between blowback pistols and blowback people, but there probably is one.

A few days ago I proposed an exercise of writing a piece for each of the categories into which blog articles placed.  That suggestion was originally proposed by Safe Bets Amy several months ago as a means of getting us all out of our comfort zone.

I only ever intended for this to be an exercise and for it to be over by May 15. 

Two things happened; people were “on board” madly writing in each category ( and filling up the most recent category) and people began complaining about, the political correctness of articles, the sheer volume of articles, and keeping worthwhile articles off of the feed.

There were comments about this merely being a self-congratulatory exercise.  Some declared the exercise failed on arrival.

The volume has been staggering.  I envisioned this happening by drips and dribbles over the next 3 weeks, not in one evening.  It is true that one’s own well written article might get swamped under the weight of multiple Challenge inspired articles.

Slowing down seems like a good thing.  I imagined everyone doing his/her own best effort with each category with the responses coming over weeks, but I admit to getting caught up in the excitement.

The second complaint has to do with what is and is not an acceptable form of humor.  That criticism of a piece about Michael J. Fox and his disability has raised a topic about which we might have a long discussion, and that is about what are the rules of what has been called political correctness,

Political correctness, as I understand the concept, began in a perfectly well intentioned desire to advance the cause of minority groups and  disabled individuals and groups while using terms that were not prejudicial, pejorative, or derisive. The substitution of “neutral” terms that admitted a difference without using stereotypical terms or terms that consigned anyone into a group, was intended to present individuals as real people, not just “other”. From this intent we have developed acceptable terms of reference

I found the following agency that lists acceptable terms along with older terms; the National Disability Agency.

The NDA is obviously not a U.S. agency because its mission is to “assist the Minister for Justice and Equality to co-ordinate and develop disability policy.”  In the U.S. ministers speak from pulpits, and no one seems to be in charge of justice and equality in the U.S. today. 

Nevertheless, the list of acceptable terms is helpful.

We no longer “Hire the Handicapped”, we hire people with disabilities.

This list does not cover terms other than those that refer to individuals with disabilities.  Terms applicable to racial and ethnic minorities, for instance, are not mentioned.   

In at least one instance this renaming process has been extended to a majority group; females. 

Today we are waited on not by waitresses, but by servers.  The woman at the end of the table in the boardroom is the chairperson, and we no longer have stewardesses on airlines, we have flight attendants.  Those changes were all intended to make the point that there is no “woman’s work”; that women can do anything that men can do. 

Paradoxically, this had the effect of opening a number of occupations to men, as well as women.  I almost wrote “Ironically” instead of Paradoxically.  The use of “ironically” to introduce an unintended consequence, is not considered to be a correct use of the word.  (See below)

That brings up definitions of various forms of humor.

 WIT: motive/aim: throwing light; province: words & ideas; method/means: surprise; audience: the intelligent

 

SATIRE: motive/aim: amendment; province: morals & manners; method/means: accentuation; audience: the self-satisfied

 

SARCASM: motive/aim: inflicting pain; province: faults & foibles; method/means: inversion; audience: victim & bystander

 

INVECTIVE: motive/aim: discredit; province: misconduct; method/means: direct statement; audience: the public

 

IRONY: motive/aim: exclusiveness; province: statement of facts; method/means: mystification; audience: an inner circle

 

CYNICISM: motive/aim: self-justification; province: morals; method/means: exposure of nakedness; audience: the respectable

 

SARDONIC: motive/aim: self-relief; province: adversity; method/means: pessimism; audience: the self

First, I haven’t read the article that featured Michael J. Fox as a point of humor.  So, I don’t know the details, but looking at the forms above the key factor in acceptability is intent.

If Michael J. Fox was joking about his disability then it might have been a SARDONIC form of humor, the intent of which is self-relief under adversity.  Laughing at that is sympathetic.  If on the other hand the intent was to ridicule, it would be intended to inflict pain, SARCASTIC.  Or, it might have been intended to congratulate an inner circle – those without disability – and be considered IRONIC.  Alternatively, it might have been SATIRICAL, intended for a self-satisfied audience with the intent of bringing enlightenment.

Recently, a cartoon circulated on Facebook that showed Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama having lunch together.  Hillary asks, “Are you seeing this?” and Michelle replies, “Girl, Stevie Wonder could see this!”

I laughed nervously when I saw it.  The cartoon was political, referring, I suppose, to the egregious nature of the Trump administration’s trampling on norms of behavior.  So, why was I uncomfortable?

There was, first of all, Michelle’s referring to Hillary as “girl”.  That is a term I’ve heard black women of all ages use when talking to another woman.  It stereotyped Ms. Obama.  On the other hand, it suggested a level of friendship and comfort we should all hope for between two first ladies.  The reference to Stevie Wonder’s disability would be considered by some to be a disparagement of those with visual disabilities.  On the other hand, to call Stevie Wonder “otherly abled” would be a gross understatement.

The greatest criticism of the concept of political correctness has been that it puts entire subjects for discussion off the table.  We are not allowed to talk about racial injustice, disability or other subjects because they have been sanitized and quarantined.

I was recently chided for the use of the words “blind” and “deaf” in an article.  The title “I see, said the blind man to his deaf dog” was a parody of something my mother said, “I see, said the blind man to his deaf daughter.”  It was her way of saying, “This is a non-conversation among people who have no knowledge of the topic.”  In my case it referred to me, a blind man, and our dog, who is now deaf.

Visually challenged is a euphemism for a spectrum of disabilities ranging from visually impaired, through legal blindness to those totally without sight.  I am for technical and legal purposes blind.  My dog cannot hear us now unless we shout at her.

Is it OK for me to call myself blind, but not for others who have good sight, as has been claimed by some?  I think that proprietary use of a term may be appropriate in some cases such as black individuals calling each other by the “N” word, but placing that word off limits for everyone else.  However, it does not apply here.

I did not attend the visually challenged rehab center in 2006.  I attended the Veterans Administration’s Blind Rehab Center.

The entire purpose of this discussion is not to characterize forms of humor – there is no test at the end of the hour – it is to make us all aware of intent.  Intent means everything.  If I make blind jokes it is sardonic humor; a form of relief.  On the other hand, if a sighted person makes a blind joke the intent has to be examined.  Is that person belittling the blind?  Is that person pointing out that you, the listener, are less able to see than the blind person? 

When Donald Trump imitated a reporter with cerebral palsy he was, regardless of what he and his supporters say, belittling the reporter because the reporter was critical of Trump.  Trump was using that technique to tar the criticism as ridiculous by making the reporter look ridiculous.

My response to the overload criticism is to say that the response, while well intended, did have the effect of clogging the feed.  Slow down.  There is time.  By really working on topics we can avoid using up all of the oxygen and produce articles that are worth reading.

As to topics, consider the intent.  Is the intent to shed light, to bring awareness or to exclude or wound?

It’s all right to point out hurtful or exclusionary intent in criticism of an article.

Consider this story.

Many years ago I had a workplace acquaintance, a white Mormon nurse in Arizona, who was married to a Navajo man.  We were talking about stereotypes of members of various tribes (including the Mormon tribe).  She told me that there is the general impression that Indians don’t have a sense of humor.  She assured me that they do.  When her husband got together with his Navajo buddies they told White People jokes.

Should we be offended by that?  I thought it was hilarious.

Views: 214

Comment by Rodney Roe on April 16, 2018 at 12:10pm

in the twelve years that I've been in this condition, I've had less than a half dozen unfortunate incidents.  One man tried to short change me. A woman cut in front of me, and when I ran into her said, "What are you blind?"  A man I met in a store where I was using my cane, as he passed asked, "Hey buddy, where's your little tin cup?"

For each of those events I've had a hundred where people tried to help me in airports, restaurants, and other businesses, directed me to the men's room, Helped me with a menu or in a lot of ways went out of their way to be kind.  Sometimes they can be over helpful, in others they make it all feel easy.  A woman in a general store, when I asked the way to the men's room stuck out her elbow, as we walked back through the store I said, "You must have a friend who is blind." and she replied, "Three, actually." At the door to the bathroom she said, "You're on your own now." which brought a chuckle.

Comment by Ron Powell on April 16, 2018 at 12:48pm

Re "clogging the feed": the genie is out of the bottle....

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on April 16, 2018 at 1:16pm

A woman in a general store, when I asked the way to the men's room stuck out her elbow...

That is one of the thing he taught me to do.  He said the last, most rudest thing you can do to a blind person is grab their arm and try to "steer" them.  Offering an elbow puts the choice back on them.  He said it was about dignity more than anything.

BTW, one of the funniest things that ever happened was I escorted him up to one of the clinics and the chick at the window asked him "who he was here to see???".  

We both started cracking up, which apparently pissed her off, and she snarkily asked if we were there together (I was wearing a VA lanyard around my neck so it was a seriously stupid question), but I completely lost it when he responded, "Yes...  I'm her blind date!"

Comment by koshersalaami on April 16, 2018 at 1:45pm

Funny story

The elbow thing is also about something else: It gives a very reliable indication of where you’re going. It turns very precisely and goes up and down with you, like up and down curbs. 

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 16, 2018 at 2:23pm

There's nothing funny about how our eyes deteriorate, it has slowly begun to hurt my wave judgement, which can result in terrific punishment from Mother Ocean. If you want a fantastic employee, hire a disabled person. My experience is they 9 times out of 10 will outwork and out perform those of us lucky enough to enjoy good health.

As far as PC in general, FUCK THE FOX ASSHOLES who want, oh so desperately, to go back to the bad ol' days when they could talk to people like Archie Bunker did and have it be "OK" as if it was a 1st Amendment Right. Well, it may not be my right, but I will give you a right cross if you call me or mine a derogatory term. Unless it is also OK to say useless Fucking Haole Cracker ...

Comment by Boanerges on April 16, 2018 at 3:23pm

Coming late to this, because I missed the original post (thanks JT for pointing me in the right direction). FWIW, I think the intent is swell if, at this point, the result is a little overwhelming.

OTOH, I'm seeing some great stuff that might otherwise never have seen the light of day. Anna Herrington's post about being on her own Electric Kool-Aid Acid test, for example, was ... how can I say this? Enlightening. Right. Isn't that the word we used back in the day?

As for being PC, I was a journo long enough to many changes in usage -- "Negro" to "Black" to "African-Canadian", for example, or Moslem to Muslim. We no longer wrote about "retarded" children or "Mongolism", instead employing rather more accurate terminology. I think one of the few places "blind" is still used is in CNIB (as "colored people" mostly only appears in NAACP), since the condition embraces a spectrum of visual impairment.

(@Amy: You still crack me up.)

Comment by Julie Johnson on April 16, 2018 at 6:16pm

The way I've always said it is,  'I see, said the blind man to his deaf wife, in the dark room'...

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