STOP CENSORSHIP VIA UNJUST SHAMINGby Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator/Co-Founder
I wasn't going to write about this today. I cooled down last night and when I woke up, decided I didn't need to write about this topic. I was angry, and am still quite annoyed, with the hysteria around Roseanne's tweets and Drake's "blackface" protest picture from 2007. Then, I watched the #HarryandKelly FocusTV interview with Sean Stone at https://vimeo.com/272665411/comments and became irritated again with Kelly's need to "#metoo" Sean for no legitimate reason.
I had planned to throw a bunch of important quotes from artists down in this rant as a sort of gauntlet. But, I think I'll stick to my own thoughts and leave it at that.
Art should make you think and feel. It should inspire and enlighten. It should shed light on the truth and help you see things from a different perspective. Free expression and speech, should not be shamed into conforming to any expectation and certainly should never be silenced.
First, I didn't see Roseanne Barr's tweet about Valerie Jarrett. I only heard about it. But, I know Roseanne's work and know for a fact that she is not a racist, homophobe, nor bigot. So, I think she may have made a comparison between a character from "Planet of the Apes", an evolved chimpanzee played by a white woman (I'm pretty sure is British) and Valerie Jarrett, a politically public figure. I think Roseanne is so not racist that she didn't even consider the optics of the tweet or that it might offend some people who don't know her and/or don't wish to bother to try to understand what she meant before freaking out like a CRYBABY and shaming her into silencing herself.
I find it more disgusting that people would react and publicly shame a beloved comedian out of their own ignorance than take a moment to understand or try to understand what was being said with the message and by the messenger. George W. Bush was compared to a chimpanzee all over the place. Bill Maher has repeatedly called Donald Trump an orangutan. I think we need to move beyond historical interpretations of commentary and at least try to understand what someone is saying before labeling them a bigot, sexist, racist, or demanding they be permanently shamed into silence. I find it far more frightening that people would actively demand the silence of others who are honestly communicating, even if crudely at times, than any work of art, public statement, or moment of open and free self expression.
In addition, Drake's "blackface" stunt was a protest against how he felt he was being treated as a black entertainer by the industry. I don't understand how people can flip out and go off because they don't like Drake's artistic expression and protest. Maybe it was meant to make you uncomfortable. Maybe it was meant as a commentary of how the industry treats people, particularly minorities. I love the uncensored video of "Puttin on the Ritz" by Taco. See: https://youtu.be/OG3PnQ3tgzY. Now, if you watch that video, you will see it is a commentary on class disparities, homelessness, and the grand illusion of wealth and high society juxtaposed to how minorities and poor people are treated by that same crowd. But, you will see a couple of people dancing in "blackface". And, it is a social commentary and art. Maybe you can't handle art and should just shut the fuck up if you happen upon an artist you don't understand. If you can't control your reactions and inquire and try to understand before attacking the artist or speaker, then you are the fucking problem. Seriously!
Now, Sean Stone said nothing inappropriate and I think Lauren should have acknowledged that and defended Sean rather than thanking Kelly for defending her when nothing offensive was said or done. And, Lauren should dress more conservatively if she wants to avoid sexually explicit comments. You can't dress like you "give it away" and then act offended when someone thinks you are a bit loose. Regardless, Sean didn't even say anything offensive. I watched the entire interview twice. His comments were taken out of context and he was dressed appropriately while others were not.
If someone says something that shocks or surprises you, take a moment to consider what they've said from the best possible perspective. That's called listening with love. If you are not coming from a place of love, keep your mouth shut. With love, if there is confusion or misunderstanding, you can respectfully ask for clarification or an explanation. This may satisfy you and help you appreciate the free speech and expression of others. If not, you are in the fucking USA and people fucking have the right to fucking say what's on their mind. All you do with your fucking shaming is destroy the first amendment and drive everyone crazy with your bullshit social controls rather than actually work to solve real problems like modern slavery, exploitation, homelessness, and hunger. Save your outrage for real issues. If you want respect, respect others enough to hear them out before shaming anyone. Otherwise, fuck you.