Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nobody is in the Parking Lot During Halftime

I have a vague recollection of an article in my college newspaper. It spoke to our ability to make a controversy out of anything. It said something to the effect of:

Consider the following sentence, presented in an editorial: The sun was shining brightly through the beautifully colored leaves while two of my frat brothers tossed the Frisbee back and forth in the parking lot during halftime of the football game on Saturday.

That single sentence could - and probably would - elicit at least a few of the following responses:

Frisbee is a registered trademark. You should refer to it as a flying disc or include the trademark symbol. ~ a first year law student

Sun? Where were you? It was cloudy for the whole game. ~Debbie Downer

Don't call your fraternity a frat, bro. Would you call your country a (deleted)? ~ a concerned member of the interfraternity council

There are no trees in the parking lot, dufus. ~ your roommate

This sentence is veering dangerously close to run-on territory. ~ ed.

Nobody is in the parking lot during halftime. ~ a representative of the marching band

They probably did a better job with that than I did, but the gist is right on. Surely you'll forgive me if my feeble brain couldn't come up with a verbatim quote 'leventy 'leven years after graduation.

Or maybe you won't. Or maybe you just don't like my use of the word 'feeble'. Or maybe it offends you that I started the last three sentences with coordinating conjunctions that failed to coordinate anything.

The point is, even the most seemingly benign statements can become controversial. I've been on both sides of that, heaven knows.

My blog post stirred up some respectful controversy yesterday. It caught me off guard, but in a pleasant way, because it encouraged thought towards a dissenting opinion and never became heated and ugly.

The first protest came from the unexpected source of my handsome husband. His issue was semantic - he objected to my use of the term 'lifestyle choice'. Perhaps, in retrospect, the word choice could've been eliminated, however it gave me pause. Why did I use the term 'choice' when I do believe that one's sexual preferences are pre-wired. Born This Way, right Gaga? I used the term quickly and easily and without a moments thought. When I applied retrospection to it, however, I decided to let it stand. I don't believe that we really have a choice as to our sexual preference, but engaging in the lifestyle IS a choice. Please do not misinterpret. I just know more than one person who tried to live a straight lifestyle when that was indeed not their orientation. In every case, they were miserable and in most cases they made the people around them miserable, too. The lifestyle they were born to, in my opinion, is the RIGHT choice, but it is indeed a choice.

I stand uncorrected, but thankful for the opportunity to put the extra thought into it.

The second protest came from a person who thought that I was implying that students who chose not to participate did not believe in the cause. I read and re-read the post trying to find what might have caused that perception, but I came up blank. Everyone expresses themselves in a different way and I am super-cool with that.

I stand uncorrected and a little confused.

The third protest was that when the majority participate in an activity like this, those who do not participate - even if their dissension is expressed by non-compliance rather than outright contrariness - are made to feel uncomfortable and may be pulled along into making a statement that they perhaps had not intended to make. This protest rang true to me. This is concerning. You can't combat bullying with bullying. My husband provided the example of prayer in schools. If the majority hold public prayers in schools, the students who do not participate in these prayers are automatically ostracized - even if they are not protesting, merely not participating. My answer to that was that nobody ever asks for one day of non-school sanctioned prayer - the request is usually for school sanctioned daily prayer. IF we were talking about one non-sanctioned day, there might be a good point here - but as it is, I think we're comparing apples to oranges.


I stand somewhat corrected. While I don't see what these kids did - this silent protest - as bullying as I tend to picture it, there is that inherent issue with being non-compliant and potentially ostracized. From talking to both of my girls, I do not believe that that is how it played out on any level, but it is a very valid concern.

Man oh man, do I love it when a silly little thing I tap out on my keyboard forces others to force me to think things through more clearly. Hopefully I, in return, offer them things to think about as well.

Yay interwebs.


Unknown said...

Now I feel like a dufus because I didn't pick up on any of that. I just thought it was great that they were doing it. What the hell do I know???

Also...loved the responses to the Frisbee comment! Really funny stuff.

Gibby said...

(The rep from the marching band wouldn't happen to be from the Marching 110 from OU, would it? No? Oh well...)

Anyhow, you may or may not know that back when I had a life, I mean, back before I was blessed with my gorgeous girls, I was in advertising. Did I study advertising in school? Of course not. Biology. But, somehow I wormed my way into copywriting and the number one takeaway was not WHAT people were saying about your product, but that they were saying SOMETHING about your product. I guess you could apply the same thinking here. I didn't pick up on a lot of the things you mentioned, (lifestyle choice, etc), but the result of your post was that you got people TALKING. And that is where is all begins...

Rosa said...

I just like the fact that you worked the phrase 'leventy 'leven into your post today. You made my day. :)