Keeping up with the Kardashians was always a stupid idea, but television visionaries could make a mint on a show called, “Keeping Up with the Culture.”
I sure can’t keep up. The rules change by the day.
A year ago, it was perfectly acceptable to cheer for the Washington Redskins. One trip around the sun later, and the Federal Communications Commission may begin fining broadcasters for saying the name of a National Football League team on television.
So, actual profanity is allowed sometimes, but the word “Redskins” may be labeled indecent. Meanwhile, there’s societal whiplash on gay marriage.
In 2008, President Barack Obama told MTV that he believed marriage is between a man and a woman. “I am not in favor of gay marriage,” he told the interviewer.
Less than six months later, a Miss USA contestant was stripped of her Miss California title for saying virtually the exact same thing the president said.
“Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other,” Carrie Prejean said in answer to a direct question in the Miss USA competition. “We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage.
“And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.”
Even now, I’m afraid to even write about gay marriage for fear that anything I write will be misconstrued. I’ll be labeled a bigot or a crusader.
ABC News broke into its daily soap lineup in May 2012 to announce that President Obama had “evolved” on the topic.
“I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” he told ABC.
Whether we like it or not, individuals are entered into a social contract with our fellow citizens. Unfortunately, the actual rules aren’t written down anywhere.
They evolve daily on what we can say and when we can say it. And the rules are different for different people. Obama gets a pass from the public to say something that Prejean could not say.
Now there’s even an anti-street harassment video of a woman walking through New York City in jeans and a T-shirt. She’s offended that several men speak to her. Some of the men are a little icky, but a whole lot of them say things like, “How are you doing?”
The video made me wonder what I’m doing wrong. When I walk down the street, no one even makes eye contact, let alone actually speaks to me.
From the Internet, I learned we’re all supposed to be upset that the woman in the video is being harassed. Or maybe we’re supposed to think about how difficult it is to be a woman? There’s supposed to be some cultural message there, but if I need an interpreter to figure out what it is, the culture is too baffling.
Don’t even get me started on the confusing cultural race war, in which I get a free pass to say whatever I want based solely on the cocoa butter color of my skin.
For the record, there are words I consider offensive. There are words I would prefer not to be used around me. Not because I want to limit others’ speech, it’s that part of the social contract that should demand people to be polite and considerate to others.
For some reason, the social contract now demands that everyone stick a stake in the political ground — on gay marriage, on the Redskins, on the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., on every controversial topic of the day. It’s social contract by mob rule, only without written regulations.
The one universal rule seems to be that someone is offended all of the time. If those are the rules, I refuse to sign the contract.
No one has the right to never be offended or to never have his or her feelings hurt.
That’s not how it works. There are days you may be offended. Someone may say something that hurts your feelings. It’s allowed.
It’s expected. It’s part of life.
Like the woman in the anti-harrassment video, you should just ignore it and keep moving forward. Now if we could get that part of the social contract written down somewhere.
Freelance columnist Danedri Herbert writes in this space once a month.