Best of the Week
of March 4, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 4, 2001, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s new database using the search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

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Question:

What is the meaning of the word 'nigger,' from an African American point of view, and from non-minorities?

POSTED 3/7/2001

Nicole, Kalamazoo, MI, United States, <a22nikki@aol.com>, 17, Female, White/Caucasian, school, Mesg ID 36200153517


Responses:
It is a word of such power when used in the wrong hands. It shows every single ugly emotion, all bundled up in one little word. This is a word that when used destroys the reputation of the person using it. This is a word that when used against someone shatters their self-esteem and pride, even though we recover in one word. I think it's a word of extreme hate.

POSTED 3/8/2001

Mike, New Bern, NC, United States, 15, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 37200145007

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Question:

Can waiters and waitresses give us diners some clues as to proper tipping? In the States, 15 percent of food and 10 percent of drinks (i.e. bar tab) is the norm, correct? Also, do you tip 15 percent pre-tax (why tip for tax)? What about at buffets? Finally, I've heard that leaving a penny means you did not forget to tip, but that you thought your service was terrible. I've also heard that leaving a penny with a tip is a compliment - which is it?

POSTED 2/19/1999

H. Lima, N/A, OH, United States, Mesg ID 2199952826


Responses:
I would like to mention that servers who provide buffet service often work harder than those providing plate service. I worked at a busy buffet restaurant for five years out of my 25-year career as a server, and it was hard work! For every diner, I removed at least six times more plates from the table than in a la carte service. I used to get so angry to overhear people say 'You don't have to tip at a buffet, because you get your own food.' I was very tempted to let them bury themselves in plates and go thirsty. A patron once asked me if he served himself. I replied that I served him; he just chose his meal without a menu.

POSTED 3/8/2001

dlouise, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, Mesg ID 37200191209

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Question:

What is the difference between a Chicana and a Latina? Also, are there equivalent words for men?

POSTED 3/7/2001

Jaime B., Nashville, TN, United States, 19, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, punk, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 362001112544


Responses:
A Chicana is a woman of Hispanic/Latin heritage who was born in the United States. A Latina is someone born in Latin America. The names are the same for men, except they would be 'Chicano' and 'Latino.'

POSTED 3/8/2001

Robert, Los Angeles, CA, United States, <robert310@aol.com>, 25, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Engineer, 2 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 37200141506

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Question:

Why is it that homosexuality and bisexuality are considered sexual orientations, with some legal protection even afforded for those identifying with these lifesyles, while other alternative sexual practices are not classified in this way? For example, is bestiality a sexual orientation? How about S&M or pedophilia? All of these supposedly are natural drives within the person who practices them (including homosexuality) bringing sexual satisfaction to the participant(s). However, coming out as an S&M participant would draw disapproval from many people in society, announcing you are a practicing animal sex participant would probably bring disgust, and stating pedophilic tendencies will land you on a sex offender list. So the bottom line is, why is homosexuality considered a sexual orientation, while none of the other ones are? By the way, I do not necessarily support any of the mentioned practices here, I'm just curious about the perceived disparity.

POSTED 3/7/2001

Rich, Washington, DC, United States, 23, Male, Mesg ID 37200181438

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Question:

Why do men feel they must dominate women?

POSTED 3/6/2001

Danielle, Ewing, NJ, United States, Female, Mesg ID 227200152456


Responses:
I feel no need to dominate women. I don't know any men who express a need to dominate women. It is perhaps true that some men feel they need to dominate women, but then, some cars are red. I think this question says more about you and your relationships with men than it does about male behavior.

POSTED 3/7/2001

Oisin, London, NA, United Kingdom, Male, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 372001112706

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Question:

To gay men who have had sex with a female before, I'm assuming it was your first time having sex. Knowing you were a closet gay, how did you feel when you got into bed with that female? Were you scared that you wouldn't 'perform' right? Did it turn out OK? Also, how did you get aroused by a woman if you were gay?

POSTED 3/1/2001

Rocky T., Boulder, CO, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 2272001113655


Responses:
I am not a gay man. I am a woman who had sex many times with a man who later realized he was gay. The first thing to understand is that the 'closet gay' often does not realize he is gay at the time of the heterosexual encounter. If he does, he may be in denial, because it is a difficult thing to accept in oneself (at least initially). My guy said he enjoyed the sex, and being a virgin, he was nervous because he hadn't had sex before. So, yes, he was concerned about his ability to perform. Being gay is not always an on or off thing; there are degrees of it, like a light that can be dimmed or brightened. Many men can be aroused by sex, with pretty much any partner. However, my guy was not emotionally, and to some degree, physically, satisfied by heterosexual sex, and eventually had to accept that he was really aroused by men.

POSTED 3/5/2001

Cassandra, Chicago, IL, United States, 36, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 34200175021


I had my first opposite-sex sex when I was 20. I started having same-sex sex when I was 11. How did I feel? Like I was doing what was expected of me (by parents, friends, society). I was nervous about being able to actually 'do it' because I wasn't really all that interested. I was able to (men are pigs) and ended up getting married to this girl. The mind is a fertile thing - full of imaginary images and memories of fun with male friends - so getting aroused wasn't an issue. And, I didn't identify as 'gay' at that time, even as a closeted gay. I really didn't quite grasp the concept at that point in my life. Only after my divorce did I realize what I was and that I had to take a new course in life.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Mark B., Dallas, TX, United States, <civic-si@swbell.net>, 40, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Financial Analyst, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 36200161714

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Question:

Why do a lot of black girls have such angry and violent attitudes? I'm a 22-year-old black female who grew up in predominately white, middl-class neighborhoods. The white girls I've met have for the most part been warm, friendly and open people. They have always been very nice to me and were usually the first to befriend me whenever I moved to a new school. But whenever I try to be nice and friendly toward black girls, I get nothing but a bunch of bad attitude thrown in my face. They're always rolling their eyes at me and making snide remarks. I've had several black girls who wanted to fight me for no reason at all! I don't seem to have this problem with any other race. I'm at a point where I really don't want anything to do with black women outside of my family, and I really don't want to feel this way toward my own race. I've tried to take an honest look at myself to see what I may be doing wrong, but I can't come up with anything. Does anyone have any insight into this?

POSTED 3/6/2001

Renee', Detroit, MI, United States, 22, Female, African Methodist Episcopalian, Black/African American, Straight, Technical School , Middle class, Mesg ID 35200142213


Responses:
You seem like the type who has never really been exposed to her own people. Therefore, you probably act stuck-up. If you approach another black woman with respect, she won't jump up and bite your head off. But if you walk around high-strung and arrogant, you can expect problems.

POSTED 3/8/2001

Mike, New Bern, NC, United States, 15, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Mesg ID 37200145839


Two reasons seem to stick out:

1. Living in this racist and sexist society, black females have to put up with both problems, and we shouldn't take it too kindly. However, we cannot let hate consume us.

2. We were raised that way. Many black parents teach their children to be snotty; mine did. Did yours? Why were we raised that way? I don't know.

Regardless, it is hurting black females, not helping. We are in a society (especially in the workforce) in which competence and attitude mean almost everything, and often gender and race matters, also. As black females, we already have two strikes against us. We do not need a third (a bad attitude).

POSTED 3/8/2001

Sheila, St. Louis, MO, United States, 19, Female, Christian, Black/African American, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 382001115559

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Question:

I do not attempt to justify the shooting and I think it is a terrible thing to happen. But, even though the writings of the two boys and their friends keep saying that they were bullied badly and humiliated and beaten up almost daily, why is nobody even talking about this aspect of the problem? Also, how serious is this problem of discrimination against people who are different in schools in the United States? Mohan.

POSTED 4/28/1999

R.N. Mohan, Bangalore, NA, India, <rnmohan@hotmail.com>, 24, Male, Atheist, Asian, Gay, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 42699115614


Responses:
I was also an outcast in school, and people treated me like a loser. I could almost understand why those kids did what they did. And I also thought of who I would have shot. But when I was young in school and thought of retaliation, I only wondered who I would slap if I could. We've come a long way in our ideas about what satisfying revenge would look like. Incidentally, even the school guidance counselor told my mother I would never do or be anything, and so far I've earned a master's degree.

POSTED 3/5/2001

Kitty, Caribou, ME, United States, <mooseloose@moose-mail.com>, 39, Female, 1/2 native, 1/2 white, Straight, psychotherapist, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 32200122534


Imagine getting your pants torn off, jacket stolen and head stuffed in a school toilet that hasn't been flushed for weeks by a bunch of 240-pound linebacker goons - all because you're a guy who wears eyeliner and lip gloss (not to mention a green mohawk and monkey boots). Usually these incidents aren't quite as extreme, but it happens all the time. There is a pecking order in virtually every high school that is strictly enforced and imposed upon all, willing or unwilling. Those who are popular, good-looking, athletic, rich, etc. are on top. Those who are average (or who are actually there to learn) are stuck in the limbo of the middle. Those who are different ('freaks,' 'geeks,' 'weirdos,' nerds, goths, punks, foreigners, poor/dirty, etc.) are on the bottom. Those on top have license to screw with those on the bottom, and it's open season on anyone who doesn't fit the description of 'All-American Youth.' Such an environment can foster extreme resentment and hatred, as you can imagine. Frankly, the motives behind the Columbine massacre did not shock or surprise me; of course, the carnage was apalling. No amount of harassment, abuse and degradation can warrant retaliation with firearms against those who cannot defend against them (especially randomly shooting people who didn't even have anything to do with them). Essentially, if the pipe dream of 'can't we all get along?' came true in U.S. high schools, and differences were tolerated and respected - or at least ignored - we would never hear of another school shooting of this nature again.

POSTED 3/8/2001

Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 22, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, College Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 37200121714


I think a lot of people who were picked on in school and at work have thought about getting revenge on bullies. It is pretty normal. I am glad to think that a lot of people have the better sense than to commit a crime to get back at someone. I think it is a real shame that the media and other people do not emphasize that the killers were also 'victims.' Injuries in the locker room from being beaten up do not show up on the news very often, or at all. Most people think of it as 'just learning to get along with others.' I think that attitude is total crap. I don't agree with the way those students have settled their problems, especially because other students who may have not been involved were hurt or killed, but I think their message of 'be careful of who you step on' is legitimate, and if there are any bullies out there, I think you should be watching your back. Just because you are the stronger one now, that may only be a temporary situation. I know I sound angry, but I don't think a lot of people know how angry a person can become when they are just trying to be themselves, not hurting others, but society won't let them. Columbine was an example of this type of attitude or belief that 'if you don't share our same values, then you are not welcome.' Again,let me say that 'rules' of a society do change, and so does the power structure. Let me emphasize to people who might think shooting someone, like was done at Columbine, has any justification: It doesn't. Also, there is life outside of high school. High school lasts for three or four years, and it is interesting to see how many of the 'losers' become extremely successful people, and how many 'beautiful people and jocks' become our employees. Like the joke says, 'What do you call a nerd in 15 years? Boss.'

POSTED 3/8/2001

Dereck, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 37200143026

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Question:

This is going to sound creepy, and I'm not trying to be funny: I sometimes wonder how many morticians are necrophiliacs. I wonder if the chances of a mortician performing such acts would increase if the deceased were an actress, etc. I also wonder how morticians feel about doing what they do. Do they ever feel creepy, and if you're married to a mortician, how do you feel about having sex with them if you know hours earier that the person may have been embalming someone?

POSTED 3/2/2001

Kitty, Caribou, ME, United States, <mooseloose@moose-mail.com>, 39, Female, in my own world, 1/2 native, 1/2 white, Straight, psychotherapist, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 32200113216

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Question:

Many Catholics have sex outside of marriage, use birth control and have abortions (among other 'sins') even though these acts are forbidden in the Catholic faith. How can these people still call themselves Catholic when they obviously don't accept the Church doctrine? If these people are going to break Catholic 'law,' why don't they leave the Catholic church and affiliate with a denomination of Christianity that is less restrictive? Or worship God independent of organized religion?

POSTED 12/26/1999

John L., San Diego, CA, United States, 25, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Scientist, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 1223199942658


Responses:
A good answer to this might be to observe the ways members of other religions also fail to follow their doctrine. Or even the way some agnostics keenly consult the stars or tarot cards. My point is that humans of whatever flavor are not the most consistent of creatures. I'm a lapsed Catholic and have felt quite comfortable associating with priests and other Catholics in gay Catholic groups. Catholic means 'universal,' and of all the Christian religions, I've noticed that Catholicism seems to make room (officially sanctioned or otherwise) for a great variety of people. Historically, the Church has had a number of changes in doctrine. Gay Catholics understand this history, and many opt to stay and push for change within the Church. Another perspective is that once born a Catholic, changing religion is not as easy as choosing one fast food restaurant over another. Many people are quite happy to remain in the Catholic 'lifestyle' in which they grew up, while being quite dismissive of some of the Pope's teachings. Most Catholics are quite accepting of this duality; it's probably one of the Church's better features.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Ben S., Sydney, NA, Australia, <bscaro@hotmail.com>, 31, Male, Lapsed Catholic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Public Servant, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11200070403


I have always been a Catholic, went to 12 years of Catholic school and am an active choir member in my current Catholic community. I am also pro-choice, lived with my husband before marriage and used birth control in the past. So I guess I am one of the hypocrites of which you speak. I am pro-choice (although I have never had an abortion, and never would) because I don�t feel my religious background should regulate others' behavior in a country with separation of church and state. I used birth control because I never wanted to have an abortion, and I believe the Church is behind the times on the issue. I lived with my husband before marriage because I loved him and couldn�t afford to live on my own. And I will always be a Catholic, because that is what I am called to be. Whenever I have gone to other Christian services, something is missing for me. I may not agree with all of the Pope�s social policy, but he is a good man and does his best. All I can do is love my neighbor and worship my God in the best way I know how.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Bridget, Boston, MA, United States, 28, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Research Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1102000110934


Some people feel they can change the denomination from the inside. However, this idea tends to work better in Protestant denominations that recognize Christianity as an personal relationship with God. Catholicism is more oriented toward a human-centered hierarchy and a worship of men, particularly the Pope, and Man's ignorance and tradition. When will the Catholic leadership realize the evils of its ways and denounce sex without condoms, unchecked reproduction and all forms of sexism and homophobia? Given the extent to which these prejudices (which are strongly anti-Christian given Christianity's core focus on love, non-judgmentalism, generosity and inclusiveness) are ingrained in the Vatican hierarchy, such progress is not likely to occur soon. The Catholic Church gains its strength through placation of the masses, but it will only survive through reform or by continuing to fight the education and progress of humanity.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Frank, Washington, DC, United States, 24, Male, Methodist, white Southerner, Gay, statistician, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 9182000114628


This is not a direct answer to your question, just a point to consider: Sex is a natural human instinct, the second instinct after self- preservation. Reproduction is instinctive. And the Christian Church forbids it except when married, which is very hard to wait for. One can't help feeling sexual desires and having sexual thoughts, as sexual stimuli are all around us. When one sees those sexual stimuli and has sexual thoughts, that person can instantly feel guilty - that he or she has sinned. They build up this guilt through their whole lives. This gives the Church a stronger hold over that individual and the population as a whole. That is a good reason to distrust religions that ban sex, shaming people to get them under the religion's control. I am not saying one should go around rampantly having sex. Wait until you're 18, as per law. But wait until you're 18 because it is a law, not because of religion.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Gleb, New York, NY, United States, 18, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Mesg ID 127200060721


In all organized religion, it is increasingly difficult to discern which professed beliefs are germane to the particular religion and which have been engendered by a religious bureaucracy. The bureaucracy may or may not have been led astray from true core beliefs by many other, more human or political concerns. An easily read, good example of this in relation to the Roman Catholic Church is the recently published Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel (c. 1999, Walker & Co.), New York. Read it - it's good!

POSTED 3/6/2001

Julie K. M., San Francisco, CA, United States, 55, Female, Catholic, Straight, Community Organizer, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 12200071131


I am one of those non-practicing Catholics you mention. There are many kinds of Catholics, some orthodox and some not, like myself. In my case, being Catholic is like belonging to this great, big worldwide Catholic club. Yep, it's like a country club where you inherit your membership, and changing clubs would be downright disrespectful socially. It's respecting tradition. The truth is, I have no need to change religion to have a good relationship with God; He knows I'm a good guy. Now, if I fell in love with a Jewish girl and wanted to marry her, I would most likely convert to Judaism. Anyway, we are not hypocrites, the Church knows we are not the church-going type, we don't lie to anyone saying we are devout Catholics. If you compare, we are as 'devout' as the majority of American New York City or Los Angeles Protestants. And last but not least, remember that Catholicism is the dominating religion in many family-oriented societies (American society in general is NOT family-oriented, except on Thanksgiving), so out of mere respect to your family and its traditions, you stick with the church.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, <nelsoneas@hotmail.com>, 30, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/White, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1231199912037


Many people believe in the doctrines of the Catholic faith because it is part of their heritage and upbringing. My wife is a practicing Catholic. She attends church regularly, prays and meditates regularly and feels comfortable with the rituals of the Church. They give her order and reason in life. We do, however, practice birth control. We use natural methods (a.k.a. the rhythm method) as well as contraceptives, and we strongly believe in planned parenthood. My wife has recognized that in our modern world it is important to control certain factors in life because of social, environmental and economic factors on a daily basis. The Catholic Church is often too slow to update doctrines that allow its followers to live lives that are current with the mindset of the planet's social situation. Nothing is constant, not even the Catholic Church. Over the centuries it has undergone countless changes in doctrine and practice. Many of them come too late and ultimately do more damage than good (i.e. the Inquisition, the holy wars and, in my opinion, the issue of abortion. My wife identifies herself as Catholic because it is one of her defining characteristics. She gives to the Church and in return takes what she needs. She does not agree with all the Church preaches, but she and others like her are the force that helps the Church stay current and able to serve the changing needs of its members from generation to generation.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Tony W., Los Angeles, CA, United States, 28, Female, Black/African American, Straight, teacher/administrator, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1227199950511

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Question:

Why are black people always calling each other "nigger" and "brother?"

POSTED 3/5/2001

Pete, Omaha, NE, United States, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma , Mesg ID 32200194137


Responses:
These words are just a form of coloquialism that mean something akin to 'friend.' I think it is an acknowledgement of sharing the same culture, etc. I've had a few white people ask me why we greet each other using the word 'nigger' if we are so offended by it. My response is that when those outside my race have called me 'nigger,' it's meant to be offensive. When another black person says, 'What's up my nigga?' it's a greeting. Kind of a negative turned into a positive. Some older black people do not understand our new age point of view. Some in our age group don't understand it. But in short, it's just part of a greeting.

POSTED 3/8/2001

Shanna T., Oxford, MS, United States, 21, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 382001121444

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Question:

A friend and I had dinner last night with his parents, who insisted on having breakfast or nothing at all. Because it was a steak house, we had to find other accommodations. He later complained that any time he shares a meal with his parents away from their home, they insist on breakfast, no matter what the time of day. I have since spoken with friends who say the same thing about some of their family members, some of whom will not eat anything else, no matter where they are. The behavior doesn't seem to be specific to age, culture or gender. I've traveled to other countries and haven't seen this anywhere but the United States. What's with this breakfast addicton?

POSTED 3/5/2001

Alma, Kempner, TX, United States, 47, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, government employee, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 342001100933


Responses:
I can't account for people who will NEVER eat anything but breakfast food in a restaurant, but I can't help but observe that a good, traditional American country 'big breakfast' (eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes, biscuits, grits, etc.) is much more enjoyable when someone else is doing the cooking. This kind of food is not particularly hard to fix, but it is greasy and requires a lot of utensils, and everything has to be ready at the same time. If it's a breakfast-style restaurant such as Waffle House or Bob Evans, they do it almost in production-line fashion, and the food is ready fairly quickly. It is also pretty hard to mess up eggs, toast, coffee and orange juice.

POSTED 3/8/2001

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Mesg ID 37200140106

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Question:

Do gay men practice anal intercouse? How do gays and lesbians achieve sexual climax?

POSTED 3/5/2001

K R Usha, Madras, TN, India, 41, Female, Atheist, Asian, Straight, writer, theatre person, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 34200164044

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Question:

Are Sikh men required to wear turbans (I don't know the proper name for them) as part of their religion, or are they just decorative? As I understand it, Sikh men don't cut their hair.

POSTED 3/5/2001

Josh, Chatham, ON, MI, Canada, 30, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Sales, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 35200162924

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Question:

People often talk about skinny people and it is considered OK, but as soon as you make a comment about someone who is fat, you are being 'mean.' Why is that? Also, when you make jokes about 'capable' people, it is the most funny thing in the world, but as soon as you make a joke about someone who is disabled, you are again being 'mean.' I crack jokes about everyone, so why should I not make jokes about these people? That would mean I was making an exception for them, and they have explicitly stated that they want to be treated like everyone else.

POSTED 3/1/2001

Syncere, Columbus, GA, United States, <nicholle_syncere@yahoo.com>, Female, Mesg ID 227200144204


Responses:
There is a theory that what humans laugh at always involves some real or perceived pain to someone or something. Slapstick comedy is obvious, but the really funny comedians can make us laugh at ourselves, themselves or others. Where we feel safest is when the person in pain is truly imaginary, such as Bill Cosby's Fat Albert. However, lately poking fun of real people or real groups has lost most of its taboo as well. If the target of humor is something about you that you are sensitive about, it's not funny, at least to yourself. You have a right to crack jokes about whomever you please, and the rest of the world has a right to think you are a jerk. By the way, have you heard the one about the woman from Georgia...

POSTED 3/2/2001

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 44, Male, White/Caucasian, Wasting Time in my Cubicle Office, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 32200161305


My dad wondered this same thing about team mascots. He says he doesn't mind when people use the Vikings even though he is Norwegian, so why should Native Americans mind having the Braves or Redskins as mascots? It is a matter of power and history. He has never been treated badly because he is a 'Viking.' He has never been denied a job or been thought less of in any real way because of the category he is in. In many ways I think people are kinder or more likely to hire a 'viking.' Northern Europeans, including vikings, enjoy some very real privleges in the United States. On the other hand, Native Americans have been massacred and ridiculed and had their children taken away because of their race. And people make fun of this race in a serious way. Think of the term 'Indian giver.' If you or your ancestors have been injured by a category, an extra joke at your expense can bring up layers of pain and reminders of being the despised outsider. The same is true of fat and thin people. Some people have a strong hatred for fat people, and people are denied promotions because of their weight (even when the job requirements do not require a thin or fit person). Jokes about fat people 'sting' in a way that jokes about skinny people do not. Jokes about fat people reinforce that little bit of truth some people may believe about overweight people. So a joke about Indians has a very different meaning than a joke about Vikings. And a joke about fat people has a very different meaning and consequence than a joke about thin people. Even when jokes about race, size, disability or gender are very funny, I work hard at stopping them, as they reinforce some painful and damaging stereotypes that we would all be better without.

POSTED 3/5/2001

Linda, Portland, OR, United States, 44, Female, Lutheran, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Mesg ID 31200122007


People in powerful positions, celebrities and thin people are admired, generally speaking. We want to be like them, have power or fame or (in U.S. culture) look thin. We would not like to be disabled or overweight. So, jokes about the former don't hurt as much, while jokes about the latter are considered mean. Making fun of people is rude. If you want to amuse people with your wit, try using situations as your subjects instead of people.

POSTED 3/6/2001

N.J. Smith, Akron, OH, United States, 46, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 36200193845

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Question:

I always wonder why a lot of these kids are going the wrong way and don't have respect for their folks. When I was growing up, I wouldn't have even thought about cursing my family, etc. Where are parents going wrong? One thing I learned when I was young was respect, and honoring my family.

POSTED 2/28/2001

Diana, Richmond, VA, United States, 53, Female, Catholic, Italian, Straight, nurse, Technical School , Mesg ID 227200131930


Responses:
I don't think kids are going 'the wrong way' by not honoring their parents all the time. Why should we 'have' to have respect for these people, who are just like anyone else, except they brought us life and raised us? Of course we should be thankful to them, but if we don't agree with our parents' descisions, we should be allowed to voice our opinion. And a lot of the time (I am not being biased here) parents are certain that their descision is right and their kid's is wrong, so the kid gets angry. I know there are some kids who don't consider their parents at all, though, and are unnecessarily insolent.

POSTED 3/2/2001

Bairn, Auckland, NA, New Zealand, <bairn@deadkennedys.com>, 15, Female, Atheist, Mesg ID 322001124433


The problem goes beyond kids not respecting parents. It is parents not deserving respect. Or rather, not parents, but elder generations in general. How can parents be role models for us if they are never there? And worse is when they ARE there. If you want to see the 'role models' parents provide, go to an elementary school during drop-off hours in the morning. Watch parents cursing each other, cursing other parents' children, having accidents and leaving without accepting responsibility. Or, watch a little league game or any other competition for children where parents are present. My parents have always behaved in a respectable manner, and so I accord them a great deal of respect, more so than they deserve, perhaps, simply because they are so far above other adults. There are two ways kids, especially suburban kids, are raised today: One is where the parents more or less leave the kid to fend for himself while they work 12 hours a day. In this instance the child has no reason to develop respect for the parent. In the other, the parents are involved in the child's life, and the child is taught to respect people based on merit, not trivial matters (i.e. age), in which case while the parents most likely will be respected, few other adults will. Rather than ask why so many kids do not respect their elders, ask why so few elders deserve their respect.

POSTED 3/5/2001

Alex, Elkins Park, PA, United States, <first_wizard@hotmail.com>, 17, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 34200190228


I think that saying, 'Those kids don't respect their elders like they used to' is putting everyone less than 18 years of age under one big blanket and judging them. I'm sure there were disrespectful children you can remember as a child, and there are very respectful children you have come across now. We tend to remember the more pleasant parts of our past as opposed to negative ones, so you may have selectively forgotten some annoying youths from your childhood. I suppose it depends on what you mean by 'respect' as well. If it means kids should 'shut up and do what they're told' without question, that is fear and oppression, not respect. Respect is earned, and I would venture to say most disrespectful children have some issues with their parents. Maybe their parents aren't there for them, as the previous response suggests, or maybe the parents are disrespectful themselves, teaching such behavior to their children. Regardless, making a statement like 'Kids just aren't respectful nowadays' is denying the past and making a sweeping generalization of the present.

POSTED 3/6/2001

Marc, Morgantown, WV, United States, 25, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Grad Student, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 362001125755

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