Saturday, 28 January 2012

Respecting America

Now, I think I need to rant just for a moment. This picture was posted by a friend on FB with the comment "huh?" It seems that Obama has failed to adopt the correct position for listening to the National Anthem. From the vitriolic commments that followed, you would have thought the man was standing there picking his nose with one hand and jerking off with the other. Any one with an ill-informed opinion is of course now allowed to spout it without recrimination. One such comment read:

thats messed he was only elected cuz he was the first black and no one wanted a woman to be president

Congratulations! A lurid combination of racism, sexism, ignorance and bigotry - and in only 21 words! Honestly, in my world, such that it is, being black is generally a social obstacle, not an advantage. They should have written "despite" not "cuz", and been proud of the American people for managing to get over their prejudices enough to elect him in the first place (personal political opinions notwithstanding).

But then 'respect' is a funny old thing. It seems Obama is pillioried for not 'respecting' America (because he failed to conform to the regulation position during a particular song), but the commenter is perfectly OK to disrespect American values - racial and gender equality, for a start.

The biggest disrespect the commenter is making, is to the right to freedom of expression. This states that someone is allowed to express themselves as they wish. Obama is hardly expressing his respect inappropriately in this picture. Even if he was doing something disrespectful - pulling a face or making a rude gesture, maybe - he would be within his rights - although, let's face it, he wouldn't be doing his re-election chances much good.

So, seriously, let's think a little bit about what the world would be like if we all had to conform to such a standard that we could only express an opinion in one way.... think hard... consider the constraints.... go read some history of repressive regimes..... are you scared yet? You should be.