A Question of Offense

Some of you may have read my blog the other day and you saw 24 photos from my wedding. And many of you told me in the comments how happy we all looked and how you enjoyed the photos.

But one of my readers, a M. Le Clown, emailed me to let me know that the caption for the photo shown below is racist and xenophobic and generally “just fucking awful.”

Fending off the rain and doing our best terrorist impression (Judy, Kitty, Me and Lucy)

Fending off the rain and doing our best terrorist impression (Judy, Kitty, Me and Lucy)

Initially, I laughed at his comment and wrote back, “really, from you??” Since anyone who has read Le Clown’s blog knows that he can offend the hell out of people. And Le Clown and I went back and forth as we do and wound up strongly disagreeing with each other as we often do.

I didn’t intend this to be offensive unless it offends Terrorists and I am a strong supporter of offending Terrorists. In the photo, my friends and I have pashminas on our heads because it is raining. Then we thought it was funny and made our serious Terrorist faces.

Terrorists never look that happy.

Terrorists never look that happy.

I can see that it may have been construed as being racist or xenophobic, if I had captioned it:

“Fending off the rain and doing our best impression of Muslim women, Arabs, Middle Easterners, etc. who are all terrorists.”

But I didn’t. Eric says that the wearing of the scarves with the word “Terrorist” in the caption make this a racist picture caption. Here’s the uncomfortable truth is that many terrorists wear headscarves and make scary faces. That’s just true.  Racial profiling is frowned upon in international airport security but that doesn’t erase the fact that 99% of terrorist attacks are committed by Muslim men. (No, that 99% is not scientifically proven figure but I bet the number is up there.)

I think this is an example of political correctness going off the rails. In the U.S., in my opinion, we have gone overboard in our “sensitivity”:

  • The Washington Redskins football team is embroiled in a lawsuit because various groups don’t like their name.
  • It isn’t acceptable to say “Merry Christmas”  or have a Christmas tree in a public space because it might offend someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Thus the new December tradition the “Holiday Tree”. What holiday? Umm, I think it’s Christmas.
  • The mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance is offensive and results in children not being allowed to recite the Pledge, in let’s say a 5th grade graduation at my daughter’s school.
  • “Manhole” is not to be used for a the hole in the middle of the road that takes workers down to fix whatever is down there.
  • Don’t get me started on Chairman, Congressman, Waitress, Stewardess.

My point is, has this Political Correctness, Cultural Sensitivity gone too far? What has happened to Free Speech? If you don’t like what someone says that doesn’t mean it is wrong or racist, cruel or demeaning; it just means you don’t like it. And if you don’t like something then why not vote with your delete key, or your wallet, or your ballot?

In the U.S., I am finding more and more that Free Speech is fine as long as certain parties approve of what you’re saying. And that’s not really how it should work.

So what do you think? Am I wrong? I can be wrong, that’s fine. Is the caption to that picture offensive and racist? Or is it just some people goofing around?

I thank Le Clown for having a civil (kind of) conversation regarding our difference of opinion and for giving me something to write about.

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215 thoughts on “A Question of Offense

  1. Le Clown says:

    Misc Maggie,
    There is a difference between being shocking and provoking to promote conversation, and raise awareness, as I do on A Clown on Fire, which doesn’t mean you will like it. Now that I have gotten this out of the way, as I don’t want to delve into the “two wrongs make a right” argument to justify your image, I personally find your image with the comment racist, as it promotes hate, and racial stereotypes. If I would have published a picture of myself with friends wearing kippas, with the caption “Doing our best Shylocks”, or painted my face black and lips white, with the caption “Jazz Musician”, I would have been racist. That is how I feel. In my book, there is a difference attacking an institution for criticizing its dogma, than perpetuating stereotypes about an ethnic group, especially when there is such a double standard when many, many “terrorists” don’t wear turbans nor burkas, but are white, like American terrorists.
    Le Clown

    • Le Clown says:

      Maggie,
      And that Santa Jesus I did on my blog? I took it too far, and I acknowledged it i an apology post. It’s a beautiful thing to be willing to learning from your own mistakes. Every day I learn, and I adjust.
      Le Clown

    • Rosie says:

      I’m with Clown. I don’t think you set out to offend, but intent isn’t important here. What is important is the fact that your caption (and your statement above with the unfounded figure) perpetuates stereotypes that harm the overwhelming percentage of Muslims who are NOT terrorists. You want to talk numbers that are “up there”? Consider that one, please.

      Stereotypes of this kind are harmful not simply because they are offensive. Are you aware that a Muslim woman was attacked in a subway because she was wearing a headscarf on the day of the Boston bombings? This is what results from normalizing the idea that Muslims are terrorists.

      Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences. One consequence of free speech is counter-speech. And sometimes the consequences are even more severe. Just because you can say whatever you want (and you can) doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

      My 2 cents.

      • Maggie O'C says:

        Thank you and it’s a good two cents. And the best part of freedom of speech is to express and to hear opposing opinions.

      • My thoughts mirror those of Rosie’s. I do think that stereotypes are harmful. There is too much racist hatred in the world (well, ANY racist hatred is too much). My brother-in-law, who is of Pakistani origin and is a non-practicing Muslim, has had racist abuse directed at him. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen and it’s a sad fact that the terrorist actions of a minority of people end up labelling a whole race with a stereotype (I was going to use the figure of speech “tar with the same brush” but then I thought maybe that is politically incorrect!)

        I agree with freedom of speech but sometimes people criticize others and use “freedom of speech” as a defense. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that’s what you were doing at all, just that I think the line between freedom of speech and cultural sensitivity is a very delicate thing.

        • Maggie O'C says:

          Thank you for commenting and you are right, the “tar” comment wouldn’t have gone well. 🙂

          My brother in law is Argentinian and is stopped regularly at airports because he fits the profile and he was okay with it, knowing why they were doing it.

          I think that my “defense” if I have one, is more that it’s a bad joke but I don’t think it’s racist. But I am open to differing opinions.

  2. I thought maybe you were all impersonating belly dancers.

  3. healthehelen says:

    Option three just made me laugh out loud.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ACK, I think Le People need to get Le Stick out of Le Ass. All this political correctness is simply overwhelming. I can’t keep track of what I am allowed to do or say or god forbid, even think. ACK.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks lady, I think it is ridiculous, too.

    • If you are going to take shots at someone, the mature thing to do would use a real name. You aren’t revealing CIA secrets, you’re commenting on a blog.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have no idea what is going on but I’m signed into wordpress and it’s putting my responses as Anonymous. The NSA has gotten a hold of this. The first Anonymous comment is from a friend of mine in Portland and I’m as surprised as anyone else that she agrees with me.

        Maggie.

        PS if anyone knows why WP is doing this or how I can fix it, please let me know!

    • Le Clown says:

      Love me some “anonymous” comment….
      Fighting hate speech isn’t political correctness, as Le Clown knows a thing or two about the latter… Personally, I find our attitude towards other cultures underwhelming, and that would be a very PC way of stating this…

    • Rosie says:

      There’s a big difference between being “politically correct” and perpetuating stereotypes that cause real harm. If you care whether or not your actions cause harm, you’ll do what you can to ensure that they don’t. It’s that simple.

      • And to add on to what Rosie said…

        I hate the term “PC” because it implies that people only care because they will benefit from it in some way. Eric (and others) actually care about what they discuss. That’s not PC, that’s conviction.

    • Addie says:

      You know, when you don’t put your name on your words, they carry no weight.

  5. Your poll, with its humorous options, didn’t quite allow me to say that while I’m sure your intention was not to offend, I still don’t like it. If it had appeared on my Facebook timeline, as similar things have, I would have hidden its author or unfriended them after telling them why. Muslim does not equal terrorist–not in the US and not anywhere in the world–and that’s more or less the equivalence you made with that caption.

  6. twindaddy says:

    I wasn’t offended by the remark, though I was somewhat surprised by it. I agree that it seems like most terrorists are Muslim, but not all. The problem is, only a very small percentage of Mulsims are terrorist and they are ruining life for the rest of the Muslims who are peaceful and benign. I had had a best friend growing up who is Muslim so I know first-hand that Muslims are not all that different from us.

    I see Le Clown’s point that associating terrorists with Muslim attire is harmful to the majority of Muslims who are not terrorists, but at the same time people who are going to think that already do because hate is bread from ignorance.

    So I guess, to sum up, I wasn’t offended, but it wasn’t necessarily right, either. And yes, political correctness has gotten WAY out of hand.

    • While I agree that people who are truly hateful probably won’t become any more hateful because of the caption, don’t we have to draw a line in the sand and start the change in thinking at some point? Maybe you can’t reach the current generation, but perhaps the next?

      • Le Clown says:

        Jen,
        I agree, we need to educate and speak out if we want to promote change. And I do think and believe that change can happen for this current generation. I might be an idealist, but I hold dear to the belief that we can actively be part of a better tomorrow by education, and not choosing silence or apathy over action.
        Le Clown

        • Kelly says:

          ” I might be an idealist, but I hold dear to the belief that we can actively be part of a better tomorrow by education, and not choosing silence or apathy over action.” XXOO This is why I lurve you.

      • twindaddy says:

        I’m going to be honest, I’m not an optimistic kinda guy. Sweeping changes such as these just don’t seem feasible to me. Cynical? Yes. But that’s how I see it. Racism and xenophobia have been around for centuries. I don’t see them going anywhere. Probably not the right attitude to have, but that’s just the way I see it.

        • I don’t know if it’s about a right or wrong attitude; I think many people share that sentiment. I’d like to think we’d never have another Nazi Germany, or slavery epidemic. There are still poisonous thoughts in our world, but I have to believe that we’re chipping away at it. How else would I survive?!

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Once again, bad taste v. racist. That is the question. And I’m pondering as fast as I can.

      • Le Clown says:

        Maggie,
        Wouldn’t it be more intent VS impact? Not everything that is bad taste could fall under racism… Some of Tom Green’s humour, for example… And some racist comments are also often made with eloquence, unbeknownst to the author, and wouldn’t be tagged as being bad taste…
        Le Clown

        • Maggie O'C says:

          Eric,
          I was referencing this particular conversation with bad taste v. racist. My intent was not racist, poor taste sure. I have an incident in my past where I said something racist and was really just being a smart ass but learned from it and I’m learning now.
          Maggie

      • twindaddy says:

        I don’t know if it CAN be racism. Not all Muslims are Arabic just as all terrorists are no Muslim.

        • Maggie O'C says:

          Yeah, I definitely don’t think it’s racist. Inappropriate? Sure. Culturally insensitive? Sure. But I don’t think it’s racist. I don’t know about xenophobic, either.

          “Just fucking awful.” maybe.

  7. Our culture tends to somehow be sensitive and insensitive at the same point, most people living in one of the two extremes. If we hold on to our beliefs too tightly, we never learn a thing.

    I believe the caption was offensive, and I’m not one who is easily offended. The problem is that the assumption is head scarf + serious face = terrorist. This line of thinking has gotten Muslims assaulted and killed in our post-9/11 society. It has been used to marginalize and endanger a group of uninvolved people, and that’s just not funny. This is why racial profiling is also an inherently flawed system.

    I have a neighbor whose husband was shaken down by a group of punks who thought he was planting a bomb under someone’s car. He was simply changing the oil. We must admit to ourselves that we live in a society that does hold hurtful stereotypes against Muslims. Making jokes like this means you’re either giving people too much credit, or you don’t care that you’ve perpetuated an incorrect thought pattern. I hope it’s the former.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have brought this up for discussion. I am giving this a lot of thought and I do want to hear everyone’s opinions. There will be more tomorrow. And my kids have friends who wear headscarves. Their school has a large Muslim population and I don’t for a second want those kids harassed because of their cultural traditions.

      Believe me Jen, I’m taking all of this in. Thanks!

  8. I didn’t think it was funny, and I’m not a fan of uber-political correctness. I thought it was in poor taste and offensive. It reminded me of when I heard someone refer to Saudi Arabians as “those guys who wear fanbelts on their heads.” I read your comment above, Maggie, and if your kids have friends who wear headscarves, and their school has a large Muslim population, then I’m surprised that this is the sort of caption you would write. Because this IS the sort of thing that Muslims get harassed with because of their religious traditions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks Weebs. This has been food for thought for me. I’m not taking it lightly and appreciate everyone’s comments.

      And for God’s sake what the hell is wrong with WP, that it is posting me as Anonymous on my own blog?!?! arggghhh

  9. Words and images matter. I believe in freedom of speech but I also believe that we, whose words and images are in a public forum, must choose them wisely, understanding their impact. I agree with Rosie that there’s a difference between ‘being politically correct and perpetrating stereotypes that cause real harm’ and I think your caption falls into the latter camp. Kudos to you and Le Clown for having it out.

  10. Jane T says:

    I would like to point out as one who knows all the women in the picture that its a very true statement as you were all at one time “terrorists” only your target was the men of a certain university and your weapon of choice was thankfully not bombs. Count me in as one who agrees with your point of few. Great blog today!

  11. Whoredinary says:

    With great power comes great responsibility. We are writing the internet. It’s important for me not to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. If I do, I hope I learn and change. ❤

  12. I think you’re funny as hell and couldn’t be more right in your explanation. I also think political correctness is becoming a danger to our country. We are a free people. If we have to censor ourselves and go underground with what we’re thinking and feeling, doesn’t that set us up to live in a fear state? I, also, as a parent don’t tell my children to think and feel like me. That would be so wrong. To be an American is to be able to express yourself freely. That’s one of many reasons our men and women in uniform are willing to die for their country. I Don’t want anyone telling me what I should think, feel and what I should say. Seriously, this scares me.
    glad you posted this.

    • Political correctness HAS run amok in the US, you’re right. And I’m no stranger to saying offensive things, as you know. But there’s a difference between political correctness because people are getting hysterical about potentially offending a non-Christian by wishing them Merry Christmas, and promoting discriminatory ideas and/or making insensitive, harmful remark about a particular group. hat’s why blackface isn’t part of comedy routines anymore. It’s not funny, and it’s offensive. Same thing with this sort of treatment of Muslims. I know Maggie meant no harm here, and this is her own blog. But a lot of people DO mean harm by these things. It’s not about censorship, it’s about being mindful of how our speech and actions can affect others. This country was built on the ideal of respect for others as much as it was built on free speech.

    • Le Clown says:

      Grippy,
      There’s a world out there, outside of the US of A. “To be an American is to be able to express yourself freely.” That gives you no right to be demeaning towards other cultures, as in my book, there is not a prominent one on this planet. I for one would enjoy if my friends from the US of A would benefit from a better reputation. Unfortunately, comments like yours won’t do any good on that front. We, as a world, have a responsibility to think about our actions and words, and make sure that OUR freedom of speech doesn’t impede on others. It’s called being considerate. It’s called being wordly.
      Le Clown

  13. SocietyRed says:

    Maggie,
    I work in one of those places that glorifies political correctness. But I don’t think political correctness is what we’re talking about here.
    Generalizations become stereotypes. Stereotypes fuel bigotry. Had the photo depicted only serious faces without head scarves, the caption would not have made sense. If there wasn’t an existing stereotype that people that wear head scarves are all terrorists it also wouldn’t have made sense. The reason it makes sense is because there is a stereotype that concludes that head scarves indicate terrorists. The reason it is considered offensive is because it validates that stereotype and keeps it alive.
    I don’t think the caption is necessarily racist because I’ve read your work and I sort of know you but I don’t think it was just in poor taste either. I think it contributes to the way of thought that helps people feel justified when they incorrectly conclude something about someone simply by how they look, or where they’re from, or how they talk. Those people are racist and they don’t need encouragement.
    Red

  14. I have a problem with your caption. I do find it racist. And not just because I don’t like it, as you suggest. Because it IS demeaning and it DOES perpetuate racist stereotypes.

    I’m sorry, but I am First Nations and I have a HUGE problem with a team being called the Redskins. Why??? Because for American Indians and First Nations, that is the equivalent of using the N-word to describe an African-American person. It’s racist. It’s not funny. And it doesn’t even make sense.

    I am all for free speech, but only when it doesn’t hurt any person, culture, group, etc. It’s too easy to hide behind free speech and then accuse those of us who are offended of being anti-free speech or too sensitive.

    What you wrote in your caption was rude and really, pointless. You’re right it was a bad joke. A bad joke that also happened to be racist and perpetuate a very scary and unfair racial stereotype.

    You are writing on the Internet and there is potential for a lot of people to see/read what you write. You have a responsibility when you’re writing. Whether you like it or not.

    You can accuse me of being anti-free speech or too sensitive if you want to. But I’d rather be both of those things (which I am neither) then laugh at a joke that unfairly demeans and categorizes a specific ethnic group.

    • Le Clown says:

      Wakinyan,
      I agree: hate speech isn’t free speech, even when it’s unintended.
      Le Clown

    • Maggie O'C says:

      There’s an issue with what you wrote. Free Speech is FREE Speech. In the U.S we are free to offend anyone. Just because you don’t like what someone has to say doesn’t mean they can’t say it.

      Thank you for your comment, definitely food for thought.

      • “In the US we are free to offend anyone.”

        That may be so, but it doesn’t make it right.

        I am free to hurt and/or offend anyone I want too. But I don’t. Because I respect others and understand that hurting/offending others is wrong, even if the constitution says it’s okay.

        Does your constitution actually say it’s okay to go out and be an ignorant racist, say/do things that perpetuate negative stereotypes, or shame another human being for a laugh? If it does, I feel sad for you, kind of.

        I am not a fan of super-duper PC. I support free speech. I do not support free speech that insults, demeans, or harms another person or group in any way, shape or form.

        I can tell you right now, you may not find the word “redskin” offensive. You may think those who do are silly PC fools who hate free speech and want you to move underground if you want to truly express yourself (as was suggested in one comment above).

        But, knowing that the word redskin is offensive to me, would you still say it to my face because of free speech? Or go to a reservation and call a bunch of American Indians that?

        • Maggie O'C says:

          No, I wouldn’t do that. Of course, not. But the fact remains, our constitution allows us to say most anything and if it offends it offends. Child pornography is not protected, there are provisions but there are strict definitions of what is not allowed.

          I wouldn’t want to live in a society where people couldn’t say what they want just because it would offend people.

          • I don’t want to live in a society like that either, but some things simply shouldn’t be said.

            So, you think it’s okay to use racist slurs then? Because that’s free speech and who cares if it offends someone else? I mean, it’s fine to call African Americans the N-word because it’s free speech and if it offends it offends?

            Wow.

          • Maggie O'C says:

            I don’t use that word. I hate hearing it but the fact remains, that it is a free country and if people choose to be assholes then they choose to be assholes.

            Do you live in the U.S.?

  15. Almo Lothar says:

    If one were to look up the term “tempest in a teacup” in virtually any dictionary, this exchange might well be excerpted there. The original photo – and caption – were lighthearted, possibly silly, and perhaps exhibited a poor choice of words. However, it’s a large leap from silliness to racism: a lack of sensitivity at worst, but hardly one that rises to the poisonous level of racism, and the bitter prejudice that word implies.

    • Le Clown says:

      Andy,
      Your daughter will have a field trip with this one. I’m not touching this with a ten-foot pole.
      Le Clown

    • Maggie O'C says:

      I’m inclined to agree. Thanks for chiming in.

    • saradraws says:

      Why is this the standard white guy response?
      “Hey, no big deal. Where’s your sense of humour? Why you getting so bent out of shape?”
      Personally, I think “it’s just a joke” is one of the most dangerous phrases of our time.

      Go ahead, call Muslims terrorists, call black people thugs, call First Nations drunks,…but please remember your privilege and own up to being a bigot if this is the path one chooses.

      I would challenge that author of this post to ask her Muslim friends how they feel about this “light-hearted” joke.

      Wait, what? No Muslim friends? Shocking.

      And this “tempest in a teacup” remark could be used to describe any issue that someone thinks is unimportant. It’s condescending, and just because someone doesn’t think it’s important, doesn’t make it true. Similar attitudes are espoused about women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, etc. Making fun of other cultures so…obvious, so easy. Jokes made in such a juvenile manner is for the weak minded and, in my opinion, shows a lack of character.

  16. I live in Canada.

    If you want to get right down to it, yeah, we all have the freedom to use whatever words we want. Kind words. Hateful words. Inspiring words. Demeaning words. All of it.

    Thing is, if you’re a kind, empathetic, loving, respectful person, you don’t go around trying to make other feel bad. You just don’t. Free speech or not.

    Point is, your post offended some people, myself included. I am actually very angry now, which I am okay with because it just proves my passion.

    You have to ask yourself – what point were you trying to make? Is it going to make the world a better place? Is it going to be hurtful to certain people – particularly the ethnic group you stereotyped and demeaned in your caption?

    I find your answers to be quite apathetic. “If people choose to be assholes, they choose to be assholes.”

    I wonder – have you ever been unfairly stereotyped because of your race/gender/beliefs? If so, how did it make you feel? Did it hurt you, even a little bit or did you simply sit back and say, “Awww, it’s okay! That person was just exceeding his/her right to free speech. That person is simply choosing to be an asshole, so it’s cool.”

    You are justifying ignorance, intolerance and unfairness in the name of free speech and writing off the feelings of those who are/were offended. Just as your right to free speech matter, so does our right to be offended.

    Your right to free speech is not more important than my right to get pissed off and speak out against this kind of crap.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Absolutely agree with you! You are free to speak out and I’m not angry that you do. I am a kind, loving and empathetic person. Anyone who reads my blog knows that. This is clearly a emotional topic. I am not writing off the feelings of those who are hurt or offended. I’m simply stating what is allowed under the protections of the U.S. Constitution.

      “I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  17. Dang it, ‘exceeding” should have read “exercising.”

  18. Lily says:

    Maggie,
    Let me just say that you looked amazingly gorge in all of your wedding photos! What a happy day that must have been!
    I too have been misunderstood and somewhat attacked for things that I’ve said on the blogosphere with innocent intent. The only person who should be allowed to be offended at what you wrote are terrorists. EVEN THEN I don’t think a terrorist would be offended because you didn’t say anything about them. You didn’t say “terrorists are bad” or anything of the like.
    Often times, my friends who are of minority races are the FIRST to make fun of themselves or joke about stereotypes. I’ve had gay friends who call themselves fags, black friends who talk about every black stereotype under the sun with a smile on their faces, and recently, at a party, my friend who is Indian grew a beard for the hockey playoffs and said it looks like “a terrorist beard”.
    I don’t know how people can be offended by something that isn’t part of who they are. If someone called me retarded I would literally have no place being offended because I am not retarded.
    There isn’t anything I hate more in the world than people who feel the need to censor what other people say. So keep on keepin’ on Mags. Write what you feel. You will always have a fan in me.

    • Le Clown says:

      Lily,
      Good to see you! I don’t have much to say, but this… I can’t speak for others, but i have personally understood your comments for what they were based on you admitting in some of your posts (on one particular that you later deleted) that you didn’t know what you were talking about. I personally took your word for it, and made it my opinion too, at least, on that particular post.
      Le Clown

      • Lily says:

        I’ll admit that I didn’t know what I was talking about regarding the specific details that people were asking of me. But my opinion is still the same.
        Your blog is one of the most offensive ones I have seen on wordpress so it surprises me that you’re always the first to point your finger at what is offensive on other people’s blogs.

        • Le Clown says:

          Lily,
          I am glad that YOU find my blog offensive, it validates my work.
          Le Clown

        • A Clown on Fire is one of the most offensive ones you’ve seen on WordPress? Honestly?? I’m biased in favor of Le Clown, of course, but even objectively I know that his is decidedly NOT one of the most offensive, by any means. I can think of at least five blogs right off the top of my head that are more offensive.

          Le Clown pokes at people and ideas, yes, and his views are clearly left-wing, but I’ve never once seen him deliberately aim to insult a group of people—the one time he ruffled a ton of feathers, at Christmas, he acknowledged that he went too far and apologized. Not once have I ever seen any racial slurs, suggestions that all people of a certain group are terrorists, or anything else in that vein. You may not agree with him, but he doesn’t indulge in humor that targets any group because of their race, sexual orientation or religion. If he did, I wouldn’t read him and he wouldn’t be my best friend.

    • Just because someone of a certain group makes jokes about themselves doesn’t automatically make it acceptable for someone else to do so. If I, as a straight white woman, were to refer to someone else by a racial or other epithet, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be well received. As for the idea of someone being wrongly offended, you mean as in, “Well, I’m Muslim but I’m not a terrorist so I don’t mind that someone is lumping all of my fellow Muslims together like that”?? How does that possibly make any sense??

    • The chick that uses the R word wants you to keep on keepin’ on. Wow. I didn’t think this could get more disturbing.

      • Lily says:

        The R word? Retarded is actually a word. It comes from the Latin retardatis which means slow.

        • There are many “actual words” that we don’t use anymore because they have acquired intensely negative connotations through their misuse and abuse. In short, when we know better we do better, but you keep hanging on to the notion that you are brave and bold and keeping us “PC folks” from pussifying freedom of speech when you use that word. Have at it sister!

    • LIly,

      I too have been misunderstood and attacked for things I’ve said on the blogosphere with innocent intent. I find it is much more hurtful to be told something you posted was, as in Maggie’s case, “fucking awful” by someone you once respected than it is to see a picture and caption that in general could be considered offensive. I am glad to see this being discussed, and that there is more than one point of view.

      Alice

      • Le Clown says:

        Alice,
        I’m glad you chimed in. I did speak my mind with some of the things you wrote, and I later admitted to you by email, after talking with my wife, that even though I wasn’t a fan about some of your comments, that I lacked finesse, and apologized to you. I’ve done my part. You have continued to comment on my three blogs, and I am happy to see you part of the community.

        Maggie and I have heated discussions in the backend. Whatever was exchanged, it was agreed that it could be made into a post, in a mutual accord. We curse a great deal, and we will stretch a topic until we both agree we are exhausted with the banter. Our heated email debate made a great post. The caption did make me feel fucking awful.
        Le Clown

        • It is true, you did apologize. But I have to ask – did you unfollow and block Maggie because you disagreed with her? Did you do so to any other bloggers? Because that did hurt, to be brushed aside like that while other bloggers were given praise, while their comments, in a similar vein, were not condemned. You are absolutely right that we have responsibility in our writing. All of us. And this extends beyond political issues.

          • Le Clown says:

            Alice,
            I didn’t block you, I actually thought you did… I did unfollow you though because I became less interested in what you wrote, and i apologize if you took this at heart, it wasn’t done to hurt you, but because I didn’t find pleasure in what I was reading. As it happens on my own blog.

            Really, if there is a misunderstanding about Facebook, or else, than for that I am not aware. Maggie and I are still friends, on Facebook, on WordPress, and by email, and we will surely have another heated argument, I’m pretty sure of that.

            As for you, since the time I have written, I haven’t harvested any ill feelings towards you. As I said, it makes me smile when I see you comment on my blogs.
            Le Clown

  19. quiltnmama says:

    I can see where someone might be offended by the caption, however, I don’t see it as racist nor do I think that was your intent. Perhaps people are offended by the caption because they’ve had similar thoughts and are ashamed of them…and who among us wants to be labelled a racist? I’d much rather folks just have their say on an issue rather than keeping quiet and brooding over their thoughts. I can’t say I’ve never had a racist thought…that’s human regardless of how enlightened one might consider oneself.

  20. Dude, I had to sign in to comment here. Do you know how long it’s been since I signed into WordPress? I’m shocked I even remembered the password.

    Mags, daaaaaahhhhhhhhling, love you, but the caption bothers me…..to the core. I like to think of myself as being kind of a tough broad. I also like to think I’m just sensitive enough, you know, not crying at Hallmark commercials, but getting misty when my boy tells me he loves me. Juuuuuuussssssssstt right.

    Perhaps I’m more sensitive to this because I have an issue going on in my neighborhood. We’ve had a couple from Jordan move in. The wife wears a hijab. Immediately everyone had an opinion about her. “Why won’t she say hi?” “Why won’t she shake my hand?” No one really seems to care if she speaks the language or if it is culturally appropriate for her to shake our hands, they just know she’s not ‘normal’ in their eyes. I find it disturbing, not because I’m a liberal worried about my political correctness score (you know they do that, they rate all liberals on their PCness. I drive a hybrid and wear Toms, so my score is way up there!)

    As time has unfolded, this discomfort with our new neighbors has grown to outright offense with someone I considered a friend. She has slathered her home in the red, white, and blue telling us it’s a message to ‘them’ to let them know “where we live”, as if they aren’t aware. She’s even gone so far as to knock on doors and ask other neighbors if she could hang an American flag outside their home. It’s makes me wince, like when I would hear my father refer to our Middle Eastern neighbors as “ragheads”.

    I get that your intention was not to harm anyone, or espouse racists beliefs, but this was distasteful at best. What you did, even though you didn’t intend to, was perpetuate a racist belief, just that same if you’d taken a picture eating chicken and watermelon and talked about how you were shucking and jiving or doing your best mammy impersonation. It’s ugly, and you’re not.

  21. Le Clown says:

    Quilt N Mama,
    “people are offended by the caption because they’ve had similar thoughts and are ashamed of them”… Or perhaps people are offended by the caption because they think it’s offensive.
    Le Clown

  22. Addie says:

    Wow!! What a great read, from blog post through the comments!

    I, personally felt the photo tag line was not such a good idea, as it does fall into the stereotype area. I was surprised, as our Maggie isn’t the type to paint with huge brush strokes, she has too much class, and, I chalked it up to just not thinking clearly at the time…I blame a surplus of wedding cake.

    What I can see in the comments from Maggie is proof she is listening to all sides and seriously thinking about the statement in question. That takes guts and belief in yourself.

    I love free speech. I also believe with it comes great responsibility. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should. Look at Tanner Flake–he used his right to free speech and put aside any morals or values he may have been taught in his life.

    Lastly, loved the survey…thanks for that injection of humor, Ms. Maggie.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Thank you Addie. Clearly the caption wasn’t such a good idea but it has resulted in this conversation and I not ever going to shy away from an honest airing of differences.

      I will publish the survey results tomorrow!

  23. Christopher says:

    I remember driving with my family when I was young. We drove a long time, longer than a youngster like me could comprehend. We never fell off the earth.

    It’s a fine line between ignorance and tacky.

    I believe in free speech and all that comes with my Verizon package.

    Keep up the excellent controversial writing. It’s great to see all the well thought out, well placed opinions of well written folks 🙂

  24. lisequinn says:

    If you offended and did not intend to offend ( Islam, Muslim women, middle-easterners, etc) then it’s easy to say your sorry that it offended, and be done with it.
    But you don’t get to decide what others should think or feel, or whether they have the right to be offended.
    You are projecting your feelings on others and saying well, I don’t find it offensive so you shouldn’t either.
    I guess when you only see things from your point of view it’s easy to disregard others views.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      That is not true at all. Not at all. I have no idea why you are saying that I am deciding how others should think or feel. That doesn’t make sense. I started a conversation. I am taking everyone’s opinions into account. I’m not projecting anything on anyone. I am reading and taking all of this in. Did you actually read the post? Did you read where I said, “if I’m wrong that’s okay. I can be wrong.” That is me acknowledging that I may not be right and I’m perfectly comfortable with being corrected.

  25. JackieP says:

    I read your blog a lot. I don’t, or hardly ever say anything. Today I’m going to have a say. I wasn’t offended by your remark. I knew you meant it as a joke, so I took it as a joke. No offense meant, none taken. Simple as that. When did we as a human race become so righteous in our thinking? When did we take on the job of correcting everything and anything? This is your blog. You said something that was a bit ‘off’, but I knew (as I believe everyone who has commented knew when reading) that you meant it as a joke. Bad taste? Maybe. But it was and is still a joke.

    I don’t post about view points that can stir the pot, so to speak. Why? Because that just ain’t me. But I see you come under attack, friendly though they think it is, for saying something you meant as a joke. They KNOW it was meant as a joke. Yet they feel they need to say something to you. Why? Because THEY felt uncomfortable? Too bad for them.

    I’m half Native American. I can relate to racism. My mom had it when she was growing up. Like the south did with black people, the north did with the Indians. There were plenty of signs posted “No Indians Allowed”. Or, separate drinking fountians. Or signs that said “We don’t serve Indians.” I used to still see them in certain places when I was young.

    Would I be upset if you put on a feather headress and shouted “How!”? No. You want to know why? Because I am very proud of my heritage and no you would mean it as a joke. I also use my common sense. If you don’t understand a people you get things wrong. I can either get mad and stand on my righteous soap box. Or I can educate you in a way that reflects good in me and you.

    What I won’t do is tell you outright that what you did was wrong. I won’t stand and tell you how could you be so ignorant. I won’t condemn you. I will educate you. I won’t try to talk down or make you feel small. I will try to show you how being Indian (Muslim, Jewish, whatever) is a good thing for many people.

    Again, it’s your blog. You have a right to say what you want. If people find it offensive, they can move on.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Thank you Jackie. I am learning a lot today. I agree with two of your points wholeheartedly….Common Sense seems to be lost in this discussion and if people don’t like my blog, I understand that and if they choose not to read it, that’s fine. Thank you very much for your comment.

    • Le Clown says:

      Jackie,
      For the record, I have sent an email to Maggie, so that i wouldn’t hijack her wedding thread, and hinder the celebration. Maggie and I exchange frequently by email, this is the relationship we have, and we often find ourselves disagreeing over topics. What is great about this, is that we provoke each other, we make each other think, we push each other to see others’ points of view. I second guessed my Christmas banner based on such a banter, and I respected Maggie enough to personally write her to let her know how that image and caption made me feel. And don’t get me wrong, I read Maggie and enjoy her work, I even guest blogged here… On this one, I spoke out. To me, the comment is offensive and racist, and even if this isn’t my blog, I was comfortable enough to let her know, and to create this exchange where different sides can exchange, as respectfully as we all can, even though convictions of opinions can heat things up.
      Le Clown

      • Maggie O'C says:

        And I am happy that Eric did email me because it got this conversation started. Not one other person commented or emailed about the wedding blog. It is a credit to Le Clown and me that we can share difficult personal discussions and remain the friends that we are.

        I fear that people who may have been offended by the original photo didn’t speak up because they thought it would upset or anger me and that would not happen. I appreciate the opportunity to review my words, actions, attitudes, whatever and perhaps re-evaluate them. Clown’s email got this going and I am glad he sent it.

      • JackieP says:

        Dear Le Clown,

        I have the utmost respect for you. Have since I started reading your blog months ago. You are usually the ‘cool’ head that comes to the discussion. I know that you and Maggie exchanged emails about this subject and it was her decision to open the discussion on her blog for all to see. I admire and respect her for that. She obviously has great respect for you also and vice versa. This is great to see about a subject that can and does get so heated sometimes. I try to be respectful of ALL common sense opinions. Which yours is of course one. We all have an opinion that has been stated. Yet it still comes down to one thing. It is an OPINION. It also is Maggie’s blog to post what she wants. She should not feel like she has to second guess everything she says on her own blog. Was it funny? Probably not. But that is for HER to decide. We as readers can only read what she has decided to post. Or not.

        • Le Clown says:

          Jackie,
          But even if it’s her post, and her space, and I agree where she can write whatever she wants, she can be challenged nonetheless… She challenged me on my Christmas banners, which were on my space, and my blog, and my opinions, and I listened and thought about her opinion, and in that case, decided I might have pushed it too far, even if i still understand that my intents with these banners were not what the impact the had…
          Le Clown

          • JackieP says:

            Le Clown,

            Challenged? Yes, of course she can be. Haven’t we all done that? I don’t disagree with challenging Maggie about what she said. If we put things out there on a public blog we are all open to challenge. You have challenged and she has accepted that challenge. That is a good thing. Keeps us all honest. I had/have no problem with you challenging what she said. I have a problem with others (not necessarily here) that don’t challenge. They TELL the blogger what they should say or feel or whatever. Have a lively debate is always encouraging. I love debates in a respectful manner, Which you and others have shown. Maybe I challenge in a different way.

          • Le Clown says:

            Jackie,
            We can’t tell a blogger what to write, or not, what we can do is tell a blogger how what they wrote made us feel (which was the point of my post “Opinion is King”).
            Le Clown

  26. dhonour says:

    Firstly, congratulations on your marriage. It looks like a beautiful day resulting in a beautiful union. I’ve tried reading most of the comments, but got a bit bogged down in following the trains of thought and the responses, (neophyte raising hand). Part of the problem with putting yourself out there, even if it’s personal stories as opposed to political commentary, is that there are almost always going to be people who disagree with you, even if you’re talking about whether peanut butter, marmite, or vegemite make the best toast topping. Obviously this is more serious than debating toast spreads, but you get the idea. I’m not sure how I feel about applying the term racist to the photo, because I’ve read your blog before and I don’t think that the intention to perpetuate harm was there. And to me racism is institutionalized. It’s the continual perpetuation of subjugation and oppression. The problem lies in the fact that while I don’t see the intent behind the caption, it’s not doing anything to deny the stereotype either. If I heard or saw my children doing something similar, I would correct their behavior and it would lead, I’m sure, to a very long-winded lecture of stereotyping and accepting and respecting difference. 99% of which would sound like “blah blah blah” to them. But I can only hope that the 1% that gets through would be enough to make them think before they acted again. And I guess what I am saying, in a very long winded way, is that the caption isn’t doing much to reinforce that 1% that we hope leads to change.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      D, You are right, I didn’t intend to upset anyone but did I promote a positive attitude, nope. Thank you for reading. And the best toast topping is Nutella 🙂
      Maggie

  27. Katalina4 says:

    Hi Maggie, first time commenting here on your site, though I’ve been following for a while – lovely to meet you.
    I applaud you for opening up this subject for debate – to be open to ideas is, I think, all any of us can really hope for.
    For the last 19 1/2 years I’ve been the mother of a mixed-race child, and I have often been taken to task by my in-laws about using the wrong word, or for subtleties in conversation that were perceived as racist. And for the first 4 or 5 or 7 or maybe more years, I was so defensive, arguing my side to anyone who would listen. Until eventually I settled down and thought maybe I could just stop reacting and try really really hard to imagine what it would be like to be inside someone else’s head, someone else’s skin….and to imagine walking out the front door every day as that person, and how I would feel about comments or vocabulary or jokes.
    I believe it is an ongoing process, never finished. We are all always getting better at being empathic human beings, better able to understand the lives of others.
    Yours, Katalina

    • Maggie O'C says:

      This is a fantastic comment. Thank you for making so much sense. The way you put it is so wise and human. My step-daughter is Chinese and you have made me think more clearly about her and her life. Thank you very much.

      • Le Clown says:

        Maggie,
        Kat is a wonderful human being, and her blog has full of these fantastic insights. I think you might enjoy it!
        Le Clown

        • Katalina4 says:

          You are a wonderful friend, plugging me shamelessly… thanks for bringing me into the debate.
          Perhaps taking it a step wider, there was a post a few months ago by a friend of yours that hit me in a similar way as the photo caption above did you – http://illbeoutinaminute.com/2013/03/30/home-delivery-no-hablo-espanol-2/
          Discuss?

          • Maggie O'C says:

            Kat, I read Tracy’s post that you linked to. and it didn’t bother me. I think different issues hit different people in different ways and so it goes. My husband and I have been talking tonight about your touching original comment, it hit both of us right at home. Deren’s daughter and my step-daughter is Chinese. I do always think about how kids are affected by this world and you gave me much to think about and I thank you. You made Deren cry 🙂

          • Katalina4 says:

            Wow, I’m so moved to hear I had something to offer! I was shy to wade into the fray, but very glad I did.
            Thanks for your feedback on Tracy’s post – it really bothered me at the time. I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico and have lots of friends there and am shocked at the attitudes I’ve found in my family who live in the southern states towards Mexicans, so it may be a raw nerve in me….
            About your step-daughter (and my son) – love is of course the thing that most moves us to open our hearts and our minds. Perhaps it is one of the blessings of our increasingly blended families – we are pushed to grow bigger hearts. xx Kat

      • Katalina4 says:

        Absolutely my pleasure. It brought me a great amount of peace to not feel like I had to understand myself as either racist or not-racist but simply someone who was trying their best.

  28. Mooselicker says:

    It’s a different topic, same message. “You should be able to attempt to make anything funny.”

    • Tim, I love you to death, you know this. But I don’t agree with Patrice O’Neal. Eddie Murphy, who was once one of the most offensive standup folks out there, was once asked, “How do you know when you’ve crossed the line?” And he rightly said, “When it isn’t funny.”

      • Mooselicker says:

        Everyone has to cross that line to realize it though, like Maggie may have possibly done here. If she was to continue to do similar things then I think that becomes a problem.

        Patrice O’Neal is the extreme opinion of course. As someone who has failed to be funny plenty (me) I always have to appreciate it when others attempt it even when it doesn’t come out the way they wanted. I’ve heard much more offensive things so I’m also not a good barometer for the average person. Do barometers measure averageness in people? I think all jokes should be allowed. The main thing to remember is there is a time and a place. Some jokes should go on blogs, others should be reserved for a private email to your friend with the sickest sense of humor. You need to know the audience. Clearly, Maggie’s blog readers for the most part didn’t appreciate her caption so the smart thing for her to do is not do it again. I think she crossed her line and I think she knows it wasn’t the right thing for her to do.

        Also, shouldn’t Eddie Murphy stop making movies? They’re not funny. He’s crossed the line. Sorry, had to be cheeky there at the end.

  29. I have not chimed in on this topic with seriousness and I’m going to forgo doing that – but I think the most important take away, for me, is being able to have an open and honest conversation without people getting nasty and rude – everyone makes mistakes – nothing that Maggie said had evil intent – and she’s decided to talk about it – which has got to be hard – but being able to discuss this or any topic in terms of respect and open mindedness is what I find to be more important and a better ‘learning’ experience than just an “I’m right; you’re wrong” comment. So keep talking and I think we’re all quite lucky to live in a time and a place where we can have this conversation without fearing for our lives.

  30. John says:

    Good conversation and debate.

    I agree with something that’s been said several times already — I don’t think this is about being politically correct. Being PC is calling someone “mentally disabled” rather than “retarded” (when I was growing up, retarded was the term we used). Describing them as mentally disabled (or challenged) simply calls out their condition, but doesn’t insult their humanity. And, that’s what being PC is about — not insulting someone’s basic humanity. It’s about respecting differences. I disagree that being PC is a bad thing, or something that’s gone too far. Political correctness is an attempt to harness the power of language, and to make language work in a positive way, not a negative way. Words are very powerful, and knowing how to use words in a correct way is important.

    Being racist is very different than being politically correct. Racism is a form of hate. It singles out people because of their differences, and attempts to make one person seem better than the other. I found your caption to be insulting to muslim women, as all it did was reinforce the stereotype that all muslims are terrorists.

    As a gay man, I’m very aware of stereotypes, and how harmful they can be. I will admit that while he made me laugh, the character of Jack on Will & Grace was offensive to me, as he reinforced those negative stereotypes about gay men — that they’re effeminate, flamboyant, bitchy. Yes, there is always some truth in stereotypes, but, it disguises the fact that there are vast numbers of people who are outside of the stereotype. Most of the gay friends that I have are nothing like Jack. They play sports, know their way around power tools, climb mountains, could care less about fashion.

    The same can be said about Muslims, and Islamists. Yes, there are terrorists among those groups, but they are a small percentage of the group as a whole. Assuming that someone who wears headgear is a terrorist is insulting to the goodness of a majority of Muslims.

    (As for Merry Christmas — that too is offensive, because it assumes that everyone is a Christian who celebrates that holiday. We are a nation that was founded not on Christianity, but on religious freedom and tolerance, so Happy Holidays should be the accepted thing to say, as an ever growing percentage of our population doesn’t celebrate that holiday. I don’t.

    The word God in the Pledge of Allegiance was not a part of the original pledge — it was added in the 1950s, during the McCarthy era, to make us seem different from the atheist communists. The point that we pledge to our nation, our patriotism, should have nothing to do with which god we do, or do not, believe in. One can be an American patriot and be Buddhist — who don’t believe in the Christian god, or one can be an atheist and a patriot. Belief in god has nothing whatsoever to do with pride of country.)

    • Maggie O'C says:

      John,
      thank you for reading and commenting. I see what you are saying about Political Correctness. I think you have identified the movement’s original intent but I believe it has gone overboard and has become the thought police.

      I don’t for a second believe that saying Merry Christmas is offensive. I have Jewish friends who wish me Happy Hanukkah and I wish them Merry Christmas. And I knew about the God in the Pledge of Allegiance, that wasn’t my best example of what I’m talking about.

      Thanks for joining the scrum!

  31. mistytucker says:

    Holy Hell there are a ton of comments! Let me see if I can squeeze one in…I personally blame Stella Liebeck- you know, the lady who sued McDonald’s for spilling *hot* coffee on her lap through the drive-thru window. Oy-veh (no, I’m not Jewish- just practicing a little freedom of speech ;)) She blazed the trails for dummies- who fail to use common sense, and sensitive souls looking to exploit or cash-in on others.

    Enjoy reading your blog!

    • Maggie O'C says:

      I think common sense does get lost sometimes and anyone who regularly reads my blog knows I’m not a racist. That being said, clearly I offended more than one person. There will be more tomorrow. Thanks!

  32. Maggie – I believe we are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but there are issues that can cross both. This is a difficult topic. I believe in free speech and in respecting other people – but how do you define offensive? How do you define respect? It can be different for different people. I hate that Nazis got to walk through a Jewish neighborhood – it makes me sick. But it’s tricky denying rights to people – if you can deny it to Nazis, you can deny it to any other institution or group of people.

    On the other hand, free speech does not allow you to cry fire in a crowded theater. But I don’t think you did this here. You weren’t trying to instill fear or hatred – it was just a flippant comment. But it did offend some people, so then it comes down to more than just rights but deciding what is right at the time. If I hurt someone’s feelings, then I want to make it right. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend my life walking on eggshells either. For a while, I was afraid of posting anything in fear that I would offend, that what I said wasn’t funny, that I wasn’t a good writer after all. You stand up for what you believe, whether it’s popular or right, but you are also open to change. I like that.

    I don’t agree with a lot of what you say, but I do admire you for putting yourself out there. It is difficult to challenge what we believe in. It’s even more difficult to sit and listen to so much criticism. You have done so with dignity and respect. This took serious guts. You have my respect.

  33. TAE says:

    You guys look more like the professional mourners that some cultures have to me – which is almost as lamentable as the caption about terrorists, especially when I consider that it was a wedding.

    That a hijab and a mean expression instantly make you think “terrorist” is a pretty heavy indicator of prejudice. A hijab is NOT like the Svastica symbol (in our day and age).

    – Imagine there was a German soccer team called “The Jewish Gold Teeth”
    – Imagine you believe you live in a secular state, but all holiday messaging you get from officials is Christian.
    – Imagine your child has to do the “under God” pledge although you don’t subscribe to the “ruling” (or any) belief system.

    And let me correct this for you:

    “(…) 99% of terrorist attacks are committed by Muslim men.”
    >> “(…) 99% of ISLAMIST terrorist attacks are committed by Muslim men.” (Still to be proven, but much easier to get away with.)

    You gloss over the various kinds of domestic terrorism, often perpetrated by angry white men. To be honest, I think you made things worse by making the statements above. I would have brushed over the initial picture by using one of my own (hopefully less harmful) prejudices about ignorant Americans. Don’t get me wrong, the debate is important, but your tagline comes with a very bitter aftertaste today.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Svastica, I’m assuming is Swastika?

      As for the Gold Teeth soccer team…that is supremely offensive but not illegal.

      When you say “holiday messaging” what holiday? If it is Easter or Christmas, those are Christian holidays so Christian messaging wouldn’t be surprising. If you are talking about Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, then Christian messaging would not be appropriate.

      As for the Pledge of Allegiance, don’t say it.

      I strongly believe that if anyone doesn’t like something they shouldn’t support it. Don’t read this blog, don’t buy that product, don’t say those words. We are blessed to have the freedom to do all of it.

      It would be difficult to have a Islamist terrorist attack committed by someone who isn’t Muslim. Just out of curiosity, do you live in the U.S.?

  34. Tilda says:

    Heaven help me, but I think I may be erring a little on Le Clown’s side in this one, but only just, sorry Mags. [And I will say, I have found His Highness’ writing offensive on many occasions, rarely yours]
    To be honest, when I read that caption in the post I was surprised, and a bit uncomfortable, but it wasn’t identifiable to me why, so I glossed over it. I didn’t expect you to write something like that I guess, but I also had no thought that there was any malice involved. I just thought some people may be offended.
    It seems a hornet’s nest has been opened. Try not to take it personally. You guys were just having a joke together on a perfect day. If you get too embroiled in all this, it will spoil the memory – and you don’t deserve that.
    Take care my friend.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Thanks Tilda! I’m not upset at all. I asked for the discussion because I wanted to hear what people had to say. I agree though, it doesn’t seem like something I would put out there. But it so happens that’s what we said and we were just joking around. I opened the hornet’s nest so I’m going to ride out the hornets!

      Nothing will spoil that day for me, promise!
      xox

  35. Oooh. That caption above the comments section is a little daunting. However it serves as a good reminder that there will be a person, an actual genuine person with feelings and thoughts who will read this comment. This connects very well with what I’m about to say.

    To be honest Maggie I was very hurt by your comment.

    I live in a different country and my country’s values, although similar, are not identical to your country’s. I understand what you were going for with your comment however with comedy you run the risk of offending people. In this case the comment seemed to come someone who was very sheltered.

    The clothing item you were referring to is a hijab. It’s worn to cover women’s hair once they reach a certain age. It’s worn by Muslims. Not terrorists.

    99.9% of Muslims want nothing more to live in peace, they’re grateful for the life that both your country and mine offer to them and their families. It’s indescribably hurtful to the community when people make statements such as the caption in your photo.

    When I think of hijabs I think of the countless, and I do mean countless (I live in a section of town which boasts not one but two mosques) women and girls who show me nothing but kindness every day. The girls are not forced to wear hijabs, some choose to, some choose not to. They are however forced to endure a lot of hate from an inaccurate stereotype created by a minority of people who may or may not have a similar background as them. In the same way that you would not lump yourself into the KKK, please don’t lump my dear friends and neighbours in with a bunch of very misguided and destructive individuals.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Thank you for this comment. And yes I am ignorant to the word “hijab”. I thought women wore burkas? I am more than happy to say “I know that I do not know.” I have had experiences with Muslim people both good and bad, just as I have with people from many races and cultures. As I have said, my intent would never be to insult the majority of Muslims who aren’t terrorists. It just wasn’t. Thank you again for commenting.

      • Maggie – I am fairly ignorant of a lot of Muslim culture too, but I read this young adult book for a class that talked about a high school girl’s decision to wear the hijab to school and the impact. It shows how different Muslims are – from her friends to her very modern parents to other relatives. Some differences come from the culture or tradition rather than the actual faith itself (like with a lot of Christian faiths.) It also shows the fear so many must have experienced after 9/11 when they were afraid they’d be blamed for the acts of a few.

        Anyway, it’s a short book, but quite good – funny, clever, insightful. http://www.amazon.com/Does-Head-Look-Big-This/dp/043992233X

  36. Kelly says:

    Maggie,
    Kudos to you for keeping your mind and heart open. Our minds and hearts are dynamic creatures and often when we put static words out on to the internet and say “This is who I am” it is easy to think we have to stand behind them, fighting tooth and nail to defend them. So much can be gained from saying “Whoa. Huh. I didn’t think about that.” Props to you for doing just that.
    -K

  37. Le Clown says:

    Maggie,
    Have you read Goldfish’s latest post? It’s on topic:
    http://fishofgold.net/2013/06/13/a-culture-of-terror
    Le Clown

  38. janetkwest says:

    I really wanted to say that I work for the NSA and I read this post while you were typing it. Untrue, but funny.Thanks for your story. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Dang! I was hoping you really worked for the NSA. That line was my fave of this post but I’m a little off like that 🙂 I’m gonna go check out what Janet K. West is all about.

  39. Brigitte says:

    Maggie, I’m late to your post! A lot of discussion here…I’ve been on the receiving end of not agreeing with someone and it wasn’t fun and I was truly shocked by the response. It’s okay to disagree as long as it’s done with respect. I’m glad you received a personal email and you weren’t raked over on a public platform. I think we’re all (as a society) more aware of how words and pictures can offend. But if we have a discussion without fear of being humiliated for those opinions, then we can express them freely. I think you’ve done an outstanding job of that — inviting discussion and truly listening without making your readers feel wrong for doing so. I viewed your pic and it did surprise me but I know your caustic wit. And I still think you looked gorgeous in that red dress. 😉

    • Le Clown says:

      Brigitte,
      I know what you are saying… I once received a comment that I found disrespectful and hurtful by someone on my own blog and public forum instead of receiving a personal email by that someone. It was humiliating, but thank the Gods that I had good friends to send me personal emails about what that person had said on my public forum. I would not post anything humiliating to Maggie on her post, and I would of course send her a personal email to discuss how it made me feel, obviously.
      Le Clown

  40. reocochran says:

    I think I would retract the statement because I try to not offend people. I even edited a post when someone said they stopped reading when I described the way a man hurt a woman who came to a battered women’s shelter that I picked up in the emergency room. I had it “Rated R” for violence in the title spot on my blog. I rewrote it and changed it to “Rated PG 13.” I guess I think you were probably joking in bad taste. But the comments at the end of your post, again not so nice. (Redskins is not appropriate for anyone to describe a person by their complexion. I am against the way Cleveland Indians use a Chief Wahoo that looks like an idiot! It is as bad as driving down the street and seeing a “black” butler or “black” hitching post. Again, not just bad taste but racist! As far as manhole that is a stupid problem, just leave the word alone. As far as wait staff, yes, that is better and more inclusive.)

  41. E. says:

    I know I’m super late to the discussion here, but I absolutely agree with you – our country has become hyper-sensitive and fallen off the cliff of political correctness. At some point in time, almost every culture has been discriminated against.

    Most people would think – no, never the white people! But that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. In the 1800s, Irish Americans were portrayed in newspapers and even public school curriculums as ruinous, violent drunkards. In the 1850s, the Know-Nothing movement was a serious campaign to remove all Irish Catholics from political office. When JFK ran for President in 1960, his religion was noted as a major stumbling block. I’d be willing to wager that most people have heard, repeated, or made at least one “Catholic priest” joke in recent years. Today, redheads are still referred to as “gingers” or “redheaded stepchildren”.

    As an Irish American with red hair, am I really going to get offended by all this? No.

    I can recognize that some Irish are drunks, and that some Catholic priests are pedophiles, but a lot of them aren’t. Most terrorists are Muslim, but some of them aren’t. Stereotypes exist for a reason, and I don’t think that making an innocent joke perpetuates hate.

    But I do want to add in that I am fully respectful of everyone’s opinions here. I’ve read through the comments and am amazed by the contemplative, respectful discourse that has taken place. There are so many comments that have provided great food for thought, and you’ve done an excellent job moderating everything and keeping it civil! So thank you.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Thank you for this. I, too, am Irish Catholic. My best friend’s dad used to call me a Mackerel Snapping Bead Squeezer and I know he meant it in the best way 🙂

  42. I couldn’t make it through all the comments, so forgive me if I repeat something. In the words of one of the greatest comedians of all time, Steve Martin: “Comedy is not pretty.” Add into that the famous American saying, “If they can’t take a joke…fuck them.” The political correctness of today is way out of control, when in fact it’s not about being PC, it’s about not taking it to the point of violence. When in fact it’s perfectly okay to observe, comment, and think about this world, it’s cultures, and societies. It’s okay to have an opinion. Just think if our forefathers kept their thoughts to themselves, we would all be drinking tea and wearing powdered wigs to court. Is it okay for me to make that joke because British people are white (generally) and I am white as well? Or is it OK for me to make that joke because I am aware of who I am, and who others are as well. When it comes to the small things like captions on photo, maybe instead of huffing and puffing and trying to make the world a dull place, you can just choose self censorship. No one was killed in the making of this joke. Please don’t dictate to me what your standards of funny are. I personally love the differences between people both culturally and sub-culturally. Just imagine if Don Rickles or Daniel Tosh were to change their act to fit in the standards of what some might deem offensive…they would have no act at all. With that being said, you don’t like their brand of humor, then don’t watch their show, or go to their concert. Same here, if this picture made the veins in your forehead pop, and the coffee to be spit out of your mouth…go read someone else…and don’t come to my blog either. It’s okay to think and feel. It’s okay to laugh. It’s not okay to ram a plane into buildings. I think it’s our job as writers, humorists, bloggers, reporters, or whatever…to say and think and feel what we want. I think it’s your job as readers to digest those feelings and make your own opinions…for yourself. Not for me.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      Well Christopher, you may have just won Best Comment. Fabulous, wise, well written and you are right…it’s not okay to fly planes into buildings.

      I wonder if some of the offended would have been upset if I put up a photo of my friends and I burning the American flag (not that we would EVER do that) but would that just be freedom of expression?

      Thank you!!!

  43. Margarita says:

    The thing about a blog is that it IS very personal; it’s kind of like changing clothes in your bedroom without first drawing the curtains: one is choosing to reveal something of themselves, and we, the voyeurs/readers, have the choice to look/read, or not. That said, as a reader, I feel it’s important to make the effort to know a little about the writer’s way of communicating. It’s very difficult to draw any conclusions from a single, or a handful of, post(s). Forgive me, Maggie, I don’t have the patience to read through the lively conversation you’ve started; I would only add that respectful discussion is always a good thing and it’s not necessary to agree. Carry on! xoxoM

  44. Kylie says:

    It would kinda be like wearing a suit that looks similar to a priest’s cassock and captioning it: “We’re doing our best to look like child molesters.”

    • Maggie O'C says:

      That may be the best comment on this post! No kidding. Now I wonder, would the same group be offended by that or find it funny?

      Great point Kylie.

      • Kylie says:

        Thank you!
        I grew up Catholic, and I’m what they call ‘lapsed’ but I would still find my caption offensive.
        Great dialogue here… we all have much to learn, blind spots, yada yada. Good for you for putting yourself out there to engage in the debate. Hope it’s opened eyes all around.

  45. Kathleen says:

    Sorry sister Maggie but I agree with Le Clown, and Jen and Tonic worded it best for me. Making a joke that perpetuates that wearing a head scarf equals a terrorist (I didnt even notice the serious faces. 2 of you are smiling?) That IS “the the line of thinking has gotten Muslims assaulted and killed.” Unintentional, yes, But my 2 cents says offensive and a dangerous perpetuation of a stereotype.

    I know you wouldnt say to a teenaged Muslim girl in your home wearing a head scarf, “I see you are doing your terrorist impression.” You wouldnt say it because it would be offensive.

    Now dress up like Castro (beard, cap and olive drab fatiques) grab a fake M16 and you got a fine terrorist costume. But not just a head scarf.

    PS On the way to the costume party, dont stop at the convenience in that outfit. Or at least leave the M16 in the car and tell them you are Castro.

    xoxoxo

  46. Chowderhead says:

    I just want to say right the fuck on to this. Can I mention this in an article I’m working on? I can send it beforehand via email.

  47. El Guapo says:

    I’m very very late to the party.
    As a member of a minority, I think it’s funny because of the stereotype it links, and the mockery of that stereotype.
    Saying “We’re terrorists!” while wearing scarves doesn’t make a point by saying “everyone wearing a kaffiyeh is a terrorist”. It makes its point by saying “How goofy is it to think that anyone wearing a kaffiyeh is a terrorist”.

    Deliberate or not on your part, Maggie, that’s what I took from it.

  48. Ugh. Just, ugh. I don’t know why I felt I needed to come look at these comments again. But I just wanted to look at the names. It was all the exact same people who commented on my Facebook thread. In fact, substitute terrorist with bearded hipster and they are the same comments.

    ACOF is down. I’m so glad. I’m am just so fucking glad that the circus left town. And we will keep our eyes peeled for anyone that tries to pitch a new tent! Hoofuckingray.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      They are nothing if not predictable. I read through his crap this morning before he took the site down, black box is down too. He’s a coward. He can sure dish it out but when the going gets tough, he password protects, what a fucking pansy.

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