Friday, December 19, 2014

Sticks and Stones and Christmas Jeer

Meet our newest contributor to Jazz (Jazzers Jazzing), Jeff Fitzgerald, photographed here at the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, tasting--what else--a craft beer brewed somewhere in Virginia. You could reasonably ask if there isn't a more appropriate photo for introducing Jeff. The answer is, nothing is more appropriate.

Jeff Fitzgerald has talent that can inspire jealousy in other writers—not all writers, just the good ones—and he’s one of the few who can make me actually laugh out loud (not simply LOL). He lives in Roanoke, Virginia, where he writes about music as well as topics like Southern (as in Dixie) cooking, in a way that makes me want to grab a tenor saxophone in one hand and plate of barbecue and coleslaw in the other, and commence to shouting. Here in his debut piece for Jazz (Jazzers Jazzing), he renders his pithy take on the serious topic of Christmas jeers, the newly fashionable trend among hipster killjoys and thin-skinned libertines. – CLH

Sticks and Stones and Christmas Jeer

By Jeff Fitzgerald

We live in contentious times, here in the land of purple mountains majesty and fruited plains (whatever the hell that means). People who wish to divide us into querulous, perpetually offended microgroups that can be easily manipulated, have been chipping away at us for decades. And they've used our primary form of communication, language, to do so.

They've weaponized speech for their own ends, turning almost every word into a “microaggression” or a “trigger event.” They've played upon most everyone's desire not to deliberately hurt someone's feelings, and used it to create subgroups upon subgroups of victims. It’s a microaggression towards me, as a lefthander, when someone uses the word “right” instead of “correct?” Of course not, don't be silly.

Which is the whole point. Let us all take a step back for a moment and get over ourselves. Remember that playground rhyme, which our parents and our teachers (those of us who are of a certain age, of course) taught us? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Call me whatever you want. Call me a fat, crippled, crazy bastard. Call me a bubba, redneck, hillbilly, or a grit. Doesn't bother me. I'm a grown man, after all. If I let stuff like that bother me, then I give someone else power over me. It's that simple.

So let's fight back at these divisive, censorial, would-be martinets. But let's do so with a smile, to let them know they can't get to us no matter how they try. This time of the year, if you should wish someone a Merry Christmas and they get all huffy and indignant and accuse you of forcing your religion* on them, just smile and say:

"Please, I didn't mean to offend you. If I had meant to offend you, I would have told you to go ____ yourself. Know the difference." Then, go on about your day with a song in your heart.


* In my experience with the Jews, Muslims, and Hindus I've met, they do not take offense at being wished a Merry Christmas, and take it in the spirit in which it is offered. And I don't mind being wished a Happy Hanukkah or Eid Mubarak in return. I just smile genuinely and say "Thank you," glad to have made a human connection.

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