More often than it should, the Internet presents me with one of those perfect storms of “political” “controversy” where everyone involved is dumb. To wit: five kids in California got sent home from school for wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. Roger Ebert responded with a Twitter post saying that “Kids who wear American Flag t-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July.” Several prominent conservative bloggers, among them RedState contributor Caleb Howe, posted a string of inflammatory Twitter posts in response, mocking Ebert’s facial disfigurement resulting from his cancer. Gawker (the last link) has dutifully covered the mess.
Got it? Now a quick rundown:
Those five high school kids who wore American flags on Cinco de Mayo? Dumb. It’s not an accident that they wore an American flag on the day that’s been co-opted by America to celebrate Mexican culture. They didn’t simultaneously rifle through their T-shirt drawers, find those shirts with American flags on them, and say, “You know what, it’s the only thing that’s clean.” These kids thought they were being edgy. And there’s nothing boys in high school want more than to be edgy. They’re just dumb.
Everyone who’s upset that five high school kids wore an American flag T-shirt to high school on Cinco de Mayo? Dumb. To quote my friend RJ on this, no one is entitled to be protected from commentary. If free speech means anything – which I still naively hope it does – it means assholes trying to be edgy get to try as hard as they want so long as they’re not shooting cops or breaking windows. Forgetting that is dumb.
Roger Ebert? Dumb. The American flag:Cinco de Mayo::Soviet flag:American flag analogy doesn’t help matters. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were in a cold war as recently as thirty years ago. Mexico and the U.S. have been peaceful neighbors for almost a century. The battle whose victory Cinco de Mayo commemorates was a victory of the Mexicans over the French. Muddying that distinction in the name of being clever is dumb.
Caleb Howe of RedState.com? Dumb. How can you claim to be the moral high ground or the reasonable party on any debate when you launch a barrage of Twitter posts at a cancer survivor mocking his disfigurement? “I mean, honestly. How many pieces need to fall off @ebertchicago before he gets the hint to shut the fuck up?” is one of the classier ones. I’d link to him but he doesn’t deserve my traffic; Google him or check the Gawker recap if you’re curious. Anyhow, this playground exhibition has discredited anything he might say in the future. And when you should be blogging for outreach, rather than preaching to the converted, that’s dumb.
And yours truly? Blogging about this mess when it’s been over for days and I know how dumb it is? Maybe the dumbest of the lot.