Vodka bearing this label has been banned in Idaho for being offensive to Mormons. In an NPR interview the distiller said that this would not be offensive in any other region. What do you think, especially readers not from Idaho or Utah? Did you find the label immediately offensive?
Not my snack
- My Snack!
I guess I’m not the target market. Ruffles has launched Ruffles Ultimate chips. They are targeted at men. Hence, “Ruffles Introduces Ruffles Ultimate Chips & Dips With Ultimate Contest: A Guys’ Night Out at the MAXIM Hot 100 Party” (Pepsi Co press release). I always find a connection to Maxim appetizing. Now I will stop buying Trader Joe’s Wasabi Roasted Seaweed snacks.
Here is the press release description of the new Ruffles products:
“The chips rock ridges twice the size and depth of the ridges in original Ruffles Potato Chips and come in a variety of real food flavors sure to satisfy any guy gathering. The thick, deep ridges in the chips allow for guys to load up on hearty flavor with new hardcore dips — made with chunks of real bacon or real beef and cheese – achieving a truly unapologetic snacking experience that satisfies man hunger.”
The language is great. With these manly chips snacking is “unapologetic.” Does that imply that when I use a less manly chip I am somehow apologizing for being a man? Does the fact the meat is “real” make this product more manly? I guess my consumption of veggie burgers would be a problem then.
While I might not ever eat these chips, if Ruffles makes money off these products, more power to them. More people have jobs, have money, help the economy, pay taxes. More people may also get fat and buy into gender stereotypes, but really can we blame the chips and dip for that?
“Indian Country” proudly notes that one individual in this photo is Ira Hayes of the Pima Nation
Looking over various websites and postings on Memorial Day, I see a wonderful diversity for example…
There is the You Offend Me You Offend My Family posting on Hollywood war films that accurately present Asian soldiers.
There is the Indian Country Today post “A Brief History of American Indian Military Service.”
There is a post on The Root “See 10 Places Honoring Black War Heroes.”
I am sure if I dug deep enough I could also find postings addressing the contributions of other groups to the United States military. For example consider this piece on Project Q Atlanta on gay vets celebrating memorial day.
How utterly American to celebrate soldiers of all kinds. What a tribute to the role of an open, meritocratic military in American society.
I just read this piece, “I’m a Successful Entrepreneur but Might Get Deported” on CNN. The article talks of undocumented immigrants who came to America as children when their parents entered the country illegally. The children grew up, got educations (sometimes hindered by lack of access due to undocumented status) and have started businesses.
I have two contradictory reactions to this piece. On the one hand I am saddened that these individuals find themselves in this situation. Their stories of hard work and fear, determination balanced with ever lurking deportations, tug at my heartstrings. These individuals did not choose to be in this situation, making me even more sympethetic.
On the other hand, these individuals are choosing to remain in this situation. They could go back to their country of birth even though language and cultural issues would make that difficult. Also, it is possible that their entrepreneurial activities are filling niches in the economy that other individuals here legally could fill. Thus, they could be taking money away from others who according the law have a greater right to reside here. I am not, however, sure of that fact. It is just a supposition.
In the end borrowing from Christian teaching regarding the poor and the oppressed as well as the idea of looking to a higher power beyond the laws of the state, I tend to take the side of the undocumented entrepreneurs, but I certainly sympathize with the argument on the other side.
John S. Wilson (CNN)
John S. Wilson wrote a provocative opinion piece for CNN, “My View: Kids have free speech right to be racists outside school.” He looks at the fact that some public schools have handed down suspensions from sports and extracurricular activities for student who sent racist tweets. The tweets were sent in response to a black NHL player scoring a game winning goal to defeat the Boston Bruins in the playoffs. Wilson makes a free speech argument and asserts:
“…school officials may want to look toward the Supreme Court on this point. The 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines ruling held that students’ speech was subject to punishment if it “materially and substantially” affected an institution’s educational mission. These few tweets couldn’t possibly pass that bar and thus qualify for the schools’ disciplinary action.”
I tend to agree with him although not with as much certainty. If a school is trying to celebrate diversity and teach students to engage productively in modern society, then it is in the interests of the school to act when students’ actions reveal a need for education. That action would, however, be more curricular and less disciplinary, discussion rather than suspension.
If a school has a diverse environment where such tweets could cause tension between groups leading to hostility that would disrupt the educational environment, then I could see action being taken. Still in that case I would think that the action would have to address what was happening on school grounds with the local police department handling any potential clashes in the larger community. In short, I cannot see administering punishment for the speech just because the speech could lead to negative actions. It is not the fault of the speaker if some people react badly (unless the actions are as predicable as what happens when one yells “Fire!” in a movie theater).
I also see a problem with drawing limits here. What tweets are actionable? What about a tweet calling for violent action against George Zimmerman? What about Facebook posts? Is it a matter of publicity and media exposure? Could a student who might dislike another student, retweet a post or two so that they gained publicity and the notice of the school?
The only way I see the school’s actions as acceptable is in the fact that the response involved extracurricular activities and sports. Participation in such activities is a privilege and not a right, and students in those activities can be held to a higher standard than the general school community. For example they can be subject to drug testing. Depending on the existing policies of the school, it might make sense that a student who reacts in a racist manner as a sports fan might be kept off of a team or out of an activity. Such a student might not be one the school grants the privilege of wearing its colors and representing it. In that way I see the school’s actions as having a greater legal justification, yet I still would favor education over suspension and a response that does not delve as deeply into the murky waters social media.
I am in the midst of listening to Back Story Radio from the American History Guys. They did a great piece on the Heyward Shepherd Memorial at Harper’s Ferry also known as the Faithful Slave memorial. This monument was erected in 1931 by Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It commorates Shepherd a free black man who died in John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry. However, it does more, it is intended to celebrate the slaves who remained loyal to their masters during the Civil War. Read the inscription below and one might imagine why this memorial has remained controversial. It still can be seen at Harper’s Ferry but with an explanatory wayside next to it giving the history of the monument and an ode to John Brown by W.E.B. DuBois.
Because the school at which I teach has a White House (named after Cleveland’s White family), I was thinking recently of Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay’s poem “The White House” and the difference between a house being called the White House because of color and the house being called that because White is a family name. I was also wondering how Barack Obama’s residence in the White House changes the meaning of the poem.
“The White House” by Claude McKay
Your door is shut against my tightened face,
And I am sharp as steel with discontent;
But I possess the courage and the grace
To bear my anger proudly and unbent.
The pavement slabs burn loose beneath my feet,
A chafing savage, down the decent street;
And passion rends my vitals as I pass,
Where boldly shines your shuttered door of glass.
Oh, I must search for wisdom every hour,
Deep in my wrathful bosom sore and raw,
And find in it the superhuman power
To hold me to the letter of your law!
Oh, I must keep my heart inviolate
Against the potent poison of your hate.
A glass escalator from Coventry, England
I was reading a New York Times piece on men taking jobs in traditionally female fields expecially during the current economic situation. The paragraph that struck me was the one stating that men in female dominated fields have no difficulty being promoted and may indeed benefit from a glass escalator effect. I had not heard that term before, but gathered that it meant that there is an invisible process whereby men in these fields find themselves rapidly promoted as opposed to women who meet with a glass ceiling. On the other hand, some studies I looked at said that men in these fields have difficulty being promoted. Now I would be interested in reading more, especially as to how this plays out in the field of education.
Lolo Jones on HBO
Lots has been said about Lolo Jones, Olympic track star, and her recent revelation that she is a virgin especially her comment that staying a virgin has been the hardest thing she has ever done, harder than training for the Olympics. The feminist analysis, the media analysis, and the sociological analysis has been quite interesting, but I see the situation from a narrower perspective. I am a track and field fan. Anything that gets track mentioned on ESPN, on major websites, on NPR, around the water cooler, I think is good. Lolo Jones has been connected to Tim Tebow as they are famous virgin athletes. Logic aside, this is a connection between a fairly obscure track athlete and one of the most popular NFL athletes, excellent!
In an ideal world there would not be this hype. Lolo Jones would be famous for running fast. But in today’s world track is a marginal sport and this pronouncement is getting the sport attention. Specifically, it is growing Lolo Jones’s name recognition. If she steps up and runs well in London she can add that performance on top of her newly established fame and garner some serious endorsements.
Forget the politics. Forget the odd ways America’s Puritan past keeps popping up, way to go Lolo! Way to get the publicity!
The header for the Varsity Monitor website
Big time NCAA programs now pay companies like Varsity Monitor to monitor their athletes Twitter, Facebook and other social media to see if their players are posting material that could lead to negative publicity. The companies screen for certain words connected to sex, drugs, and other transgressions. There are issues here with civil liberties and the idea that playing for at team means one sacrifices some of one’s freedom of expression, but I actually want to consider what the list of banned words says about race and society.
According to the list of terms from the company UDiligence published on Deadspin, each term is ranked from 1 to 3 with 1 as “lowest risk” and 3 as “highest risk.” On the list of racial terms, any term that denigrates blacks (“monkey” for example), Hispanics ( for example “spic”), or Arab-Americans (“towelhead” for example) is deemed highest risk. Terms denigrating Asian-Americans are either 2 (for example “gook”) or 3 (for example “zipper”). Terms denigrating whites are ranked 1 (for example “cracker”). The word “racism” is given a 1.
Thus, athletes using language denigrating some groups pose a much greater risk than athletes denigrating other groups. I would be really curious to figure out how these lists were compiled. I also wonder if they evolve? Does the Jeremy Lin hype make terms regarding Asians more or less risky? Why are terms for Arab-Americans so risky; is this due to societal tension? Lastly, why is it risky at all for an athlete to talk about “racism”?
A side note, I hope these monitoring services look at words in context. If one posts that they are going to monkey around with their computer, I hope they don’t get called in for using racist term.