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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Let's call this meeting to order

Welcome to the first gathering of the "Say Whatever the Hell You Want" club.

It is my intention through this club to stifle what I believe to be irrational panic and fear over saying stupid things under the guise of humor. First there was Imus. Then there were these knuckleheads, who prank-called the Chinese restaurant on the air, and said offensive things. Last week or the week before, a Florida state legislator sent out an email to people urging them to pay their taxes on time because 12 million illegal aliens were counting on it. He said he was joking and not referring to citizens or legal residents anyway.

First order of business: Know that you can say whatever you want as long as you don't yell "nappy-headed ho" in a crowded theater, because there will be consequences.

For example, you are more than welcome to approach me if you see me on the street and call me the N-word - that's not "Nancy," in case my friend Aguedelo is reading this. But if you exercise your freedom in this case I may knock you out like Popeye did Brutus too many times to count or the way Deebo did Red in Friday. So while you're eye may be swollen shut you will be able to comfort yourself in the fact that you spoke freely. Hooray for the Constitution!

Second order of business: We have to let this free market system do its job. When people don't like something they stop partaking of it, naturally. If I taste food that is nasty to me, I guarantee you I'll never take another bite, unless, of course, the chef revamps the dish and demonstrates to me that it will taste differently the second time around. If your home town team sucks over the long term, you stop buying tickets and attending the games. When the team owner gets the hint, he'll spend more money, get better players, and improve the team. And when they start winning again you'll be drawn back to them. If radio hosts, for example, say things we don't like - things that aren't dangerous to society (like yelling "fire"), things that at best qualify as bad, distasteful humor, and at worst qualify as mean or some form of "ist," then don't listen to them. Find new radio shows to listen to, or get books on tape. Advertisers will eventually get the ratings numbers that show a dwindling audience and they will cast their lots with other, more popular shows. I guarantee you that will send a bigger, more moral message than forcing the stupid people to shut up.

Third order of business: Don't be stupid about free speech. We have to support it unequivocally. But don't let stupid, mean people use it as an excuse either. This goes back to the consequences thing. If someone is out of order - even in a lame attempt to be funny - call them out if it's necessary. If you can say it, then you should be willing to defend it, regardless of how you meant it.

Fourth order of business: Pick and choose your battles. The next person who gives you a funny look, don't automatically call the Anti-Eyeball Association and accuse that person of inappropriate use of peepers. The next person who says something stupid to you or around you, don't automatically make a federal case of it. It takes away credibility from those legitimate arguments. If I get on your case every time you say "poop," and beat you down for using a sophomoric description of that, people will get just as desensitized to my gripe as they are of your use of "poop." And when you eventually graduate to that poop word that starts with "S," folks might not listen to my complaint as seriously as they would have otherwise.

Fifth order of business: Let us forever relegate non-dangerous (again, no yelling "fire" or inciting violence or instigating crime with your words) speech to mole hill status. We have enough societal mountains to climb (like poverty, violent crime, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, etc.) that when we encounter a mole hill, let's agree to step over it and keep climbing.

As the founder, chairman, and sole board member of the "Say Whatever the Hell You Want" club, I am a dictator.

So I'm bringing this first meeting to a close.

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34 Comments:

  • Nice to hear someone lauding common sense and civility.

    By Blogger BobG, at 2:15 PM  

  • Thanks BobG. I haven't completely nailed it, but I'm trying.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:17 PM  

  • Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech. I WANT to live in a world where you can bust someone in the chops for using the N word, and it never goes any further than that. I want to live in a world where if I hear someone making a disparaging remark about a friend of mine, especially a ladyfriend, I deliver some instant karma to them without fear of reprisal.

    By Anonymous og, at 2:45 PM  

  • Finally! A club I wouldn't mind belonging to.

    Everyone should have the right to stick their foot in their mouth.

    And the rest of us have the right to speak with that proverbial "power of the purse."

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 2:46 PM  

  • I agree with Thirdworst..

    By Blogger Winter, at 4:18 PM  

  • So weird, we wrote about the same thing today . . .

    By Blogger Evil Spock, at 4:21 PM  

  • JB,

    Where do I start here? I have the most polemically charged and radically opposing viewpoints in the country. If I air them here, I expect full reprisal and will defend vigorously, even to the point of a making delivery of a freshly constructed knuckle sandwich.

    I think George Bush is the smartest guy in the world. He lied his ass off, got idiotic Americans to elect an oil man as POTUS and VPOTUS twice and started a war that spends all of somebody else's money ensuring his dad and their buddies can keep sucking the public oil tit until death. All while foolin' ever'body that he ain't none too bright. Right as we speak, his brother in crime, John Ellis, is in Brazil making sure that sugarcane will remain a crop that America "needs" to grow and Miamans will have less drinking water as a result. And they will claim to love this lying, sycophantic toady in training the whole while their spigot gushes air or brown water.

    Intelligent unethical, corrupt, bigoted, racist, and criminal people run this world. Miamans don't care because they've already been living like that for the last 40-50 years (before Mariel, there were Cuban businessmen of Spanish descent parlaying their inability to defeat a lawyer who could barely shoot a gun (k/n/a Fidel Castro)into a worldwide huminitarian crisis of epic proportion requiring American military "help" OR there was a slick Flagler disciple/PT Barnum protege selling Iowans a piece of swamp to call their own).

    This world is a nasty, brutish place. It is not for the faint hearted, weak willed, eggshell headed, or light-in-the-assed. Guys like Don Imus exist because there are 500,000 white racist guys in Miami and Ft. Liquordale(this includes Cuban, Dominican, Venezuelan, especially Colombian, Argentinian, Panamanian, Mexican, Chilean, Peruvian, Costa Rican, Salvdorean, and Ecuadorian Klan wannabes who check "white" on their census forms) who like to think they are better than Black people. Yet the government they run and dominate still can't erect a single structure south of the Ft. Pierce Turnpike Interchange without wasting enough money to burn a herd of wet elephants. Then they have the nerve to get indignant at the inference that they are completely incompetent and must have their local agency taken over by the Feds. Unfortunately, black people are no better. Miami Gardens, Carol City and Overtown still have no clue who shot Takeshia or where Rilya is. At least they stopped electing Willie "Glory Hole" Logan.

    Wake up people!! The people living in Miami are corrupt and unethical because when you witness someone else breaking the rules and the law, you don't think about putting a stop to such heinousness--no--you can only think of how that makes it easier for you to do it too. Your callousness toward proper social behavior makes you deserve the effects of the 9/11 bombers who found South Florida a perfect place to train--if you had been more righteous and less indifferent, they wouldn't have thought you would let them get away with it--which you did.

    Lastly, I would like to address nappy headed ho's in all their glory and splendor. There are a great many women in South Florida who think that a man's function is to allow them to live life with no repsonsibility or concern. In their minds, a man must pay for everything, even if that includes their new boyfriend's clothes and car. You ladies who exchange sex or companionship for lifestyle support have earned the label that Don Imus incorrectly slapped on the Rutgers ladies BB team. You are indeed whores (of which 'ho is just the slang version as spoken in African American Vernacular English or AAVE), sluts, tramps, freeks, hussies, wenches, courtesans, prostitutes, corksoakers, or skanks.

    BTW, my personal favorite slang pronunciation of the word "whore" was Screw Magazine's Al Goldstein's NY Brooklyn Jew "hoo-ah" which remains in popular usage by the wops, guineas, hebes, hymies, spics, micks, yo's, wiggers, wegroes, niggers, coons, spades, jigaboos, spooks, gooks, dinks, dopes, slopes, towelheads, camel jockeys, sand n*ggers, curry dippers, and assorted man-milk guzzling craka peckerwood WASPs of NYC.

    If I left anybody out, then you suck too. Right here, baby--kiss me right here!!

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:24 PM  

  • I already say whatever the Hell I want. I am working on filtering my stream of consciousness speech.

    I think I may owe dues, retroactively.

    By Blogger mist1, at 4:42 PM  

  • Og, that's the thing. Dealing out karma without reprisal. That's the part that scares me. Remember, I'm too pretty to go to jail.

    ThirdWorst and Winter, amen!

    Evil Spock, I'll be by to check out your post a little later today. Great minds think alike ;-)

    BD, I'm gonna pray for you. You and Homer Simpson both need Jebus.

    Mist1, you are being added to the board of directors. Board members don't have to pay dues for the club.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:49 PM  

  • JB

    Don't pray for me because there is no GOD!!! At least not one in the traditional Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah/Buddha/Shinto/Animism sense.

    If you must pray to someone, pray to me because I am as much God as God is. I know because he told me so.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 5:06 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:32 PM  

  • BD, I know you're trying to get a rise out of me. Not gonna work. You demonstrate that you either created the stuff around me or struck the match that ignited the Big Boom and I'll start praying to you.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:34 PM  

  • Here, here!! Say it don't spray it! What??

    By Blogger Erica AP, at 5:46 PM  

  • Great post! We do not have the right to not be offended. Free speech has it's consequences but hopefully not from the government.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 6:07 PM  

  • Well, James, I'd like to take your invitation as an opportunity to clarify a comment I made yesterday, if I may. Although I knew you would understand the humor, it occurred to me that the word I referenced might not be as well known as I had believed.

    Please pretend that I had said this instead:

    "James, your word 'crack' sounds a lot like 'cracker,' a derogatory word that some groups use against another group, similar to the use of the N-word, and an epithet that I have been called myself."

    I apologize if I had offended any of your audience.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 7:06 PM  

  • Can you add the food police in as number 6 on your list??

    By Blogger fiwa, at 7:07 PM  

  • Ok, just so I understand. When .. I mean .. If I say something that offends somebody instead of apologizing to them do I get to tell them to "f-off"? I mean, if I can back it up. Which I can't so I won't, but this is totally hypothetical.

    By Blogger Jay, at 7:13 PM  

  • I've been called honky, gringo, gije, bilagaana, gaijin, nasrani, and whitey. Some are derogatory, some are not. I could care less; seems like the only thing some of the names do is show the ignorance and intolerance of the user.

    By Blogger BobG, at 9:13 PM  

  • Erica, preach!

    Hammer, I agree. I never want the govt. deciding right/wrong or good/bad where speech is concerned.

    Sarc, clarification received. If anyone was offended by the sarcasm yesterday, hopefully this'll help 'em get your intention.

    Fiwa, food police are next. Though I have mixed feelings on that one - slightly different from my speech feelings. But I have an explanation. More on that in a later post.

    Jay, that's tricky. The point of my "manifesto" was not to suggest that we grown, sane people should use free speech as an out for dumb things we say. On the contrary, I said specifically (I think in point number three or four) that we shouldn't be dumb about and use free speech as an excuse to be mean, etc. So if we're smart enough to know we've said something offensive or if a smart friend/acquantaince/relative, whatever, tells us we have been offensive and they're right then we should apologize, no question.
    Now if someone gets on your case for the proverbial mole hill and tries to make it a mountain, then use your discretion. It may just call for you to tell them to eff off and lighten up.

    BobG, I agree the most ignorant thing about cruel language is the person who uses it.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:01 PM  

  • Damn thing ate my comment. I said something terribly witty about a moron saying something offensive in the forest. I'm just sayin, why do we pay attention?

    By Blogger Lee, at 10:30 PM  

  • Perfectly put, and amazingly well written. I couldn't agree more. As always you managed to present your arguments in a way that makes them pretty close to inarguable. Nice work.

    BD

    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 12:37 AM  

  • JB, (and after this I'll move on)

    Why do I have to "demonstrate" to you that I created anything for me to be God? There's no proof that "God" did anything either and yet you believe it and pray to it. Religion and its attendant mythology does not become any truer with age and number of converts. It's adherents simply become more dogmatic in efforts to preserve what they beleive is its "essence".

    What IS true, however, is this: That I could be God but you would never believe it because it would be easier for you to believe that I was crazy than it would be for you to believe I am God in human form. I think it would be too incredible for you to think that an ambassador for the Almighty could be so easily dismissed as a rambling kook by you.

    Think about that the next time you're praying to the image of the capitally punished Christ your religious institution has chosen to market.

    Then think about being nicer to me in your replies, my son.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 10:33 AM  

  • BD, you are funny as hell. Let's make sure I'm not standing next to you when you get struck by lightning. Anyway, you can't be God, 'cause you wouldn't voluntarily live in Florida, unless you had the hookup.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:53 AM  

  • Oh man, I hate meetings. Can't we just wrap this one up and go out and get some beers?

    By Blogger Dan, at 12:53 PM  

  • priceless!

    as the saying goes: don't do the crime, if you can't do the time...

    consequenses....

    By Blogger savannah, at 1:47 PM  

  • You are FUckin Awesome burnett. That's enough exercise for me now.

    By Blogger cucuclaire, at 2:21 PM  

  • You are a sole member? You aren't taking anyone with you?

    Can I at least be a page? Or a hanger-on? This is the first cause I can get behind since the advent of the fever for the flavor of a Pringle.

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 2:23 PM  

  • Great post. I agree with you completely. I believe, wholeheartedly, in the 1st Amendment, even when I don't like what it permits. And I agree with you about the consequences. I get burned to my core when the Ku Klux Klan has a rally or parade and they call in extra police back-up to protect them. UM...NO!!! Their SPEECH is what's protected by the 1st Amendment. They get to march and say what they want. If they get their asses kicked for saying it, that's on them. I don't think they should get special protection for their demonstrations.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks for letting me share them here freely. :)

    By Blogger Lex, at 4:45 PM  

  • Freedom of speech is an antiquated notion. It's the 21st Century James, get with the times.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 7:17 PM  

  • Dude, you could TOTALLY rock Bill Maher's "New Rules."

    "We have enough societal mountains to climb (like poverty, violent crime, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, etc.) that when we encounter a mole hill, let's agree to step over it and keep climbing."

    Well, AMEN to that!

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 11:10 PM  

  • You speak of many things other people just oush to the waqyside, well done, I look forward to your next meeting :)

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 5:26 AM  

  • Dan, I'm just now seeing this message 'cause I had a community meeting to attend last evening. But even though it's 8:59 Friday morning, I'm with you. Let's adjourn and go for a beverage...in a few hours maybe.

    Savannah, always good to see you! I was thinking "Consequences" should be taught as a mandatory course for high school students before they graduate.

    Claire, always appreciated. Don't exercise too hard. Might pull a muscle.

    OK, Queen, you can join the board too. Right now it's honorary. I'll think of some grueling challenge to make it formal later.

    Hey, Lex, you know your thoughts are welcome here. Honestly, I've only ever censored one individual and one other type of messenger on this blog. One guy kept coming on and saying the meanest, racist, sexist things...in my opinion. And it was also disturbing other blog readers. I asked him to tone it down, and he ratcheted it up. I challenged his opinions. And he made it personal and started taking shots at my wife. So he had to get banned. As old unc would say, he didn't have to go home, but he had to get the hell out of here. And the "other" was spam from fake Viagra sales folk.

    Captain, I know, I'm stuck in the dark ages.

    Tiggerlane, thanks! I can't say I always agree with Maher. But even when I disagree with him I do admire that he doesn't back down from an opinion 'cause it might cost him friends. If nothing else, that tells me he really believes what he's saying.

    Cazzie, thanks for the vote of confidence. We'll have the next "meeting" Sunday night.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:07 AM  

  • how much is this club going to cost me and who's taking the minutes?

    seriously though... the whole situation is sad. we as humans cant even figure out on our own how to handle this kind of stuff. we have become a bunch of sensetive babies... and hate spouting morons... nice combo huh?

    By Blogger Yas, at 11:28 AM  

  • Too true, Yas, too true. BTW, I'm done with my critique. I'll send it to you tonight or tomorrow from home, though from the sound of our last exchange you might not even need a critique. Good stuff. My fingers are crossed for you.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:08 PM  

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