You know, I am by no means a politically correct person. I crack jokes that I shouldn’t. And honestly, from what I have seen so far from our new president, if we were to put ideology aside Barack Obama and I share the same sense of humor.
That being said, I’m happy that the president apologized for the off-handed comment made on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” comparing his lackluster bowling skills with the Special Olympics. As a purveyor of the idea that we need to be more open and less offended in general, I was not as offended as was my wife, a nurse who works with special-needs children.
The part that offended me was the inequity. A few years ago, shock jock Don Imus called the Rutgers Womens’ basketball team “nappy-headed hos” while comparing them, aesthetically, with a Tennessee Volunteers team known as much for their nail polish and eye shadow as for their lay-ups and jump-shots. The comment, while in context no more than a brash contrast, was taken up and blown out of proportion. The black community was incensed. Al Sharpton called for the radio host’s head, and indeed he was suspended for a long, long time.
There was uproar about Obama’s “Special Olympics” comment, but nothing of the sort as seen with Imus and the Rutgers team. Nowhere near as much. And while I am not saying that there should have been uproar spanning several news cycles,given that the president did apologize even before the taped show aired, I’d just appreciate a little fairness when it comes to whom the selective outrage is directed.
We need open dialogue when it comes to matters of race, religion, disability and more. Such dialogue cannot exist in such a touchy, easily offended and often litigious environment. From this particular presidential slip-of-the-tongue, special-needs kids now have a standing invitation to display their bowling skills–and likely show up the president–in the White House bowling alley. I like that. My wife likes that.
So, I definitely understand why many have taken offense but, at the same time, I hope those who did take offense recognize the long-term good which can come from such open dialogue. Political correctness stands in the way of a truly free society, and can snowball into truly dangerous policy.