Monday, August 3, 2009

Inside voice

You see the movie Slumdog Millionaire? The scene where the kids were running to the train? My brother-in-law, my sister and their 6 year old daughter went to Tinker Town playground fair. There is a mini-train that people ride around the park in. I went to meet them at the park to drop off their older daughter. My brother-in-law, Smiley was telling us about some kids (of a particular ethnic descent) chasing the train. He said to his wife, "Hey look! Slumdogs!" He said that the people sitting around heard him. These are the times when you use your 'inside voice'.

I bet there are lots of times when people should have been using their inside voices or better yet, should have said nothing at all. I like to comment all the time about people and it is a wonder I don't get into more trouble than I usually do. My wife hits me and says 'inside'. I am lucky because I am a nobody and it generally does not matter what I say, but people in the public life, now that's another problem.

Last month some politician in the US commented about an escaped gorilla being an ancestor of First Lady Michele Obama. In the US you would expect that kind of thing; they wear their bigotry on their chest like it's a logo. There are so many examples of people that should have beeen using their inside voices. In Canada we have our share of people like Mel Gibson who don't like certain segments of society. This Indian guy, D. Ahenakew (and yeah, Indians have bigots as well) went on a tirade against the Jewish population. Fortunately for him, he was not convicted of a hate crime. D. Ahenakew was described as a "cranky old coot" by one "right thinking blogger". It was an attempt to downplay the bigotry of his comments and put the onus on the media for creating a monster out of a nobody. Ahenakew was using his inside voice where he should not have been. You would wonder how did this guy from the prairies get so angry and bigoted towards Jews? That question is for another time.

What do you do when you don't use your inside voice and say something that is offense? Well, if you are a celebrity you go to treatment. There must be some treatment program out there that cures racism, bigotry, homophobia and a host of other offensive actions. I looked for the Centre but could not find it. I even looked up the 10 most offensive celebrity remarks in the hope to find links as to where they went for treatment. No such luck but I did find some interesting comments by some celebs. John Wayne ( ) said, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility." I was a bit surprised, I know he was an actor that killed a lot of Indians, but I didn't know he didn't like the Blackman as well. (Oops, was I suppose to use my inside voice when I said Blackman?) If the term Blackman is racist perhaps I could explain about my use of the statement. A Canadian Member of Parlimant, Steven Fletcher used the term "Jap". He said he was using in the "historical terminology of the time" of the subject. Mr Fletcher does not like people of Japanese origin because of how his grandfather was treated in the 2nd World War (notice I use the Canadian label and not the US's, WWII label, eh?) So when I use the term Black, I was using it in the historical context of John Wayne's time. Yeah, I know it still does not excuse it. Hey, it worked for a member of the Canadian government, so I just figured...

A story from home...When I was working for this guy in our Reserve, we had to deal with the government bureaucrats quite a bit. Anyway, we were to have a dinner meeting with this one guy and his wife. My friend was with his wife and my wife came along as well. We went for Chinese food. Indians love Chinese food, especially Chicken balls. At dinner with the bureaucrat and his wife the conversation was light and unfocused. We talked about the weather, back home and kids. For some reason someone mentioned kids peeing while the conservation was going. My friend popped up said to his wife, "I pissed on you, eh? Delores?" You should have seen her face. She said, "na, nnn, no! You didn't." He said " Sure I did! Remember? In the shower?" He was in a good mood and just making talk and had no idea it was not good dinner etiquette. She of course tried to keep her dignity and said, "well I kicked you out". All the time my wife is kicking my shins, because I was laughing too much. The bureaucrat and his wife were trying to change the subject.

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