Gary is an author, trial lawyer, Mequon-area resident and town of Cedarburg supervisor. He is a columnist for the News Graphic and writes for several Wisconsin area magazines and is a national columnist with The American Thinker and PJ Media. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and has three sons ages 18 to 28. Gary won Ozaukee County in his bid for the Wisconsin Assembly's 60th District in 2011, but came up just 58 votes short.
"If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed." - Benjamin Franklin
When I returned home to Wisconsin after practicing law for 20 years in Texas, I was shocked to learn that the Marquette Warriors had changed their name to the Golden Eagles. I was in disbelief. I still am – and I am still protesting. Sports teams choose names to honor something or someone, or to evoke strength, courage, power and valor. I refuse to believe that Native Americans could take offense at the name “Warriors”, or that they had cornered the market on the term. After all, Greeks, Romans, Africans, and Germans all have had warriors in their histories, and the term refers to anybody who fights with courage and strength – from cancer patients to the Marines.
As is usually the case, however, it wasn’t the Native American people who were complaining - it was a handful of idle activists, including a large number of non-Native Americans. In 2002, the Peter Harris Research Group polled 352 Native Americans (217 living on reservations and 134 living off) and asked if high school and college teams should stop using Indian nicknames. Eighty-one percent of Native American respondents said “no” and 83 percent said teams should not stop using Indian nicknames, mascots, characters, and symbols. The poll also found that 75 percent of Native Americans don't think the use of these team names and mascots "contributes to discrimination." But now we have the Marquette Golden Eagles – a bird which tears apart young martens, foxes, marmots, rabbits and mice, and even scavenges off of dead animal carcasses in the road during the winter months. Surely PETA or somebody is offended here. If not, there are hundreds of other sports teams’ names on the politically correct chopping block.
I’m waiting for peace-loving Irish activists to protest games at Notre Dame or the sensitive native peoples of Scandinavia to organize a brat boycott at an upcoming Minnesota Vikings game. Real-life cowboys from Dallas don’t want to be portrayed as gunslingers, and the family of Andre the Giant – who died of giantism – might not appreciate the name of one of our two New York NFL teams. Come to think of it, global warming zealots might not appreciate the other. The most politically correct city in our galaxy has a professional sports team called the Redskins. Just recently, a minor league baseball team – the Lehigh Valley IronPigs renamed its mascot “Pork Chop” after a 5-year old girl won a contest for picking the name. Alas, who knew that the name used to be a slur against Puerto Ricans in the 1950’s? Twelve hours after picking the name, they changed the mascot’s name to Ferrous. Does anybody realize how environmentally unfriendly iron mining is? And what is a macaca anyway?
The easily offended jumped on the bandwagon to rid the world of a simple piece of cloth in the form of the evil Confederate flag in recent years, despite the fact that the Civil War was not fought over slavery - although slavery was used as propaganda for both sides – and less than 2% of Confederate soldiers owned slaves. A public works employee in Tampa, Florida was fired when he refused to remove his Sons of Confederate War Veterans plate from his personal automobile parked in the county parking lot.
Despite the Christian heritage of our country and the fact that 92% of Americans believe in God, it seems that mentioning “God” offends certain people more than just about anything else. In 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck the words “under God” from the pledge of allegiance, because the father of an 8 year old student was offended. The Supreme Court overturned the silly decision, but only because it claimed the father didn’t have standing to bring the suit.
It's a movie about the Bible, but family-friendly Disney is moving heaven and earth to make sure the word "God" is stricken from advertisements promoting an upcoming animated film on Moses titled “The Ten Commandments”. As I recall, God has the leading role in that film.
The valedictorian at Foothill High School in Nevada had the microphone turned off in the middle of her speech when she said, “God’s love is so great,” yet she would have been completely within her rights to burn the American flag in front of the school.
A dockside restaurant in Kennebunk, Maine, was ordered by a federal judge to remove outdoor umbrellas advertising Hebrew National hot dogs – a popular brand sold throughout the country – after the town’s code enforcement official complained the brand name was “personally offensive.”
People no longer wish each other “Merry Christmas” for fear that it might offend somebody who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. A Fox News report recently revealed that the vast majority of Americans (96 percent) celebrate Christmas while 5 percent celebrate Hanukkah and 2 percent the African American holiday of Kwanzaa. The odds are in your favor that you’ll be appropriately using the greeting, and if not, they should understand. Eighty-seven percent of Americans believe that nativity scenes should be allowed on public property, yet, in the name of "multiculturalism" and "diversity," the chancellor of the New York City Department of Education recently prohibited the display of the Christ Child in New York City schools while permitting displays of the Jewish menorah and the Islamic star and crescent. He was afraid the nativity scene would offend someone.
If I moved to Germany I wouldn’t be offended if directory assistance didn’t have an option for English, because I would understand that I was living in a country which speaks German. I’m also not offended that McDonalds’ restaurants in France have renamed our Quarter Pounder a “Royale with Cheese”, but I’m sure somebody is.
It is apparantly okay for some American Muslims to call for the death of a Sudanese teacher whose class recently named a teddy bear “Muhammad”, despite the fact that this is the most popular name in the Muslim world. Yet, you could hear the crickets chirping after comedian Kathy Griffin recently accepted her Emmy with, “A lot of people thank Jesus for their awards. I want you to know that nobody had less to do with this than Jesus. So all I can say is, ‘suck it, Jesus’. This award is my god now.” I wasn’t offended. I just felt sorry for Kathy, primarily because she apparently has a need to belittle other people’s beliefs.
The purveyors of political correctness continually tell us who is offended and by what. The time-honored "I now pronounce you man and wife" at weddings has largely been replaced by "I now pronounce you husband and wife". Some etymologists find this amusing, as "wife" is Old English for "woman", while "husband" is Old English for "householder". Even the Bible has a gender neutral translation, and Oxford University Press has put out a New Inclusive Translation of the best-selling book of all time, which is being labelled the politically correct Bible. In it, the term, “Son of Man” will now become, “The Human One” and, “Father” is “Father-Mother”. I wonder if God is offended.
Unbridled sensitivities are also manhandling (an offensive word, no doubt) the English language. A cripple became an invalid, and proceeded through a long sequence of euphemisms, including disabled, handicapped, then disabled again, people with disabilities, differently abled, and physically challenged. Even Gregorian calendar-related terminology is being altered from Anno Domini (A.D.) (Latin for In the year of the Lord) and Before Christ (B.C.) to the Christian-neutral Common Era terminology (CE/BCE).
I suspect that far too many people feign being offended because they know it works. As Americans, we should be respectful of other cultures, traditions, and practices, but none of us have a right to never be offended. When one person or group speaks out about being offended, our tendency is to grease the squeaky wheel, and then, in turn, find offense over something in retaliation. It is a vicious cycle of political correctness which results in a subtext of contempt for everything we stand for as Americans.
Perhaps it is an inflated sense of self-importance and insecurity which fuels the easily offended. Perhaps they were never told “no” as children. Regardless, in the interest of boosting the self-esteem of the ultra-sensitive few among us, I have two things to say: “Get over it” and “Merry Christmas!”