Saturday, February 23, 2008

No Joke

Bigotry often comes in the protective cloak of humor. You're supposed to laugh at the ethnic jokes, supposed to giggle at racial slurs or sexist comments, so long as they're said with a wink and a smile. If you don't laugh-if you're the one confronts the stereotyping or who throws the flag and says "it's not funny," then you just don't have a sense of humor, or you take yourself far too seriously. Either way, the problem is with you, not with the purveyor of the off-color remark. After all, especially in the "say anything" internet age, shock speech draws clicks, and clicks equal dollars. So, just stick a :) beside it, and say whatever you like. That's basically the reasoning Macon City Councilman Erick Erickson is using to defend the intellectually vacant statement he made recently to CPAC-he was just joking. To this point, I've not had much to say about the story. It just didn't merit a response, but today, Erickson is in the Telegraph "standing by" his remarks. So, here goes.

Erickson's remarks were ridiculous on their face, clearly designed to ignite the controversy that followed, and therein lies the problem. Macon is the smallest big town in Georgia. We all know one another and many of us work together, without regard to political affiliation, to try to make this community a better place to live. Because he chose to run for a position on City Council, Erickson is no longer "just" a political blogger. He is a leader in the community, and his public remarks-that have been and will continue to be reproduced without any clarification-reflect on the community he represents. (Think Jack Ellis.) When he hurls insults at "progressives" all in "good fun," he's not just talking about some nameless, faceless person out there somewhere, he's talking about a neighbor, someone he now represents. And that's no joke.

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