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  • October 14, 2019



    I don’t want to complain, but I’ve always marched to a different drummer. I recognized it, even when I was a kid. Except back then, I would make an effort to get in step. But it never worked.

    Now, I don’t even try.

    It’s a dangerous way to be nowadays, when society increasingly wants you to fit in, listen to what people in authority tell you, work together as a team, and reach a consensus with your peers.

    Even when the consensus is bullshit, we’re all supposed to pretend that it isn’t.

    Nowadays, more and more people are being sent to re-education camp to learn the proper way to think and the proper way to act. It’s like when your mother wants to give you a lecture, and you’d rather just get a spanking and get it over with.

    Re-education camp in the United States goes by such names as traffic school, sensitivity training, and forced apologies that folks are pressured to make whether they’re actually sorry or not.

    I used to go to traffic school when I got a ticket just to keep my insurance rates within reason. Traffic school is a thing thought up by a bunch of bureaucrats to convince people to drive defensively. Having been to traffic school several times over the years, I can attest that everybody is just going through the motions – both the teachers and the students.

    After they started offering traffic school online, I hired by young niece – nowhere near old enough to drive herself – to attend in my name and take the test. Over the months, she got pretty good at it.

    If I do say so myself, I think I was instrumental in making her the fine driver that she is today.

    Then there was an editor – when I was a reporter at the Long Beach Press-Telegram – a rather stupid woman, whose name I cannot, and do not wish, to remember. She decided that the staff needed was sensitivity training. Her idea was to teach reporters not to be mean to black, Hispanic, or Asian people.

    Since I was no meaner to black, Hispanic, or Asian people than I was to anybody else, I didn’t see the point.

    The class was taught by a very nice black man, who showed us a film starring a little black boy, who came to a white neighborhood where people had big houses and spent their weekends at the country club. That certainly had not been my experience growing up white and poor, but that was the opening premise of the class – that white people spend their weekends at country clubs.

    The instructor said, “if you don’t think you need this class, then you are free to leave.”

    I left, much to the anger of the editor.

    I have no idea where she is now, but I’m sure if she has not died of acute bitterness, she is somewhere, railing against how mean men are to women, white people are to black people, and Americans are to the rest of the world.

    Then there was my pal, Roger, a very liberal and progressive kind of guy, with whom I got along despite our political differences. The problem was Roger thought if I didn’t agree with him to the letter on every issue, that I obviously had a whole other set of “right-wing” values, whether I expressed them or not.

    In Roger’s mind, you were either this or that.

    The end of my relationship with Roger came when he told me – using simple one-syllable words – that “what you need to understand George is that: Black folks are good people. They are nice and they are fun.”

    I told him his statement was ridiculous.

    Some black people are nice, fine folks and some were really jerks. The same as white people, brown people, Asians, and Indians.

    That was the end of my relationship with Roger. It wasn’t that he felt differently about things than I did, but that he insisted upon giving me a little lecture as though I was an idiot. And a bigot.

    Time marches on.

    Now, people are being forced – upon threat of losing their jobs or their status in society – to apologize for what they said or a joke that they told, whether they are really sorry or not.

    And some people, who declare they are not prejudiced, are being told they actually are, but they just don’t know it. Women vote against what is good and right because their husbands make them do it. Or so the story goes.

    The people who say this have obviously never met my wife, Carmela. If I dared to tell Carmela who to vote for, she would tell me in the most loving way possible, to mind my own damn business.

    I like that about Carmela.