The moment I deleted my tweet, I realized I had become a tool of a sadly broken reality in which people systematically take everything the wrong way.
As a person who likes to speak his mind (by which I mean tell fart jokes at totally inappropriate times), I not only find this frustrating, I find it wrong. If someone is, in fact, a big fat idiot, shouldn’t we be allowed to say so?
With increasing frequency, universities are banning the use of certain words (California State University-Chico has banned “coward,” “like a girl,” and “man up”) like they don’t understand what the First Amendment means. According to a survey by the University of California at Los Angeles, one in five college students think it’s fine to use violence to silence someone who has a differing opinion. And I can’t say “ladies” or hold a door open for someone without the fear of a lawsuit at best, a kick in the groin at worst.
For all you ladies out there (dang. Sorry), take a poll of your guy friends. I’m sure most of them would rather be sued.
My potentially offensive tweet was this: “I just discovered my wife doesn’t like to play Slug Bug on the interstate while she’s driving. Who knew?”
Like dozens of other tweets that languish in a Word file entitled “ThingsToGetMeFired,” it started out innocently enough.
The reaction I intended to get: Ha, ha, ha. Slug Bug. Yeah, I played that in elementary school. But here’s a grown man punching his wife in the arm to play a kid’s game even though the lives of the entire family depend on her ability to navigate the living hell that is the interstate. Hilarious.
The reaction Mr. Second Thought expected to get: That man hit a woman.
I grew up in an old-school environment where hitting a woman was wrong. Not just wrong, but a fundamental kind of wrong that meant you were a lower form of human. Like a Homo habilis with the wrong kind of upbringing.
But this was a joke, one that was essentially non-violent.
A lot of jokes go wrong. A friend of mine was just getting his stand-up comedy career started in 1986. When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, a joke popped into his head. A joke he couldn’t help but tell even though the rest of the comics performing that night begged him not to.
He told it. His act ended early.
That was wrong. My joke? Not wrong. So why didn’t I send the tweet? Because the state of the world made me afraid someone may – no, someone would – be offended.
Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood addressed America’s drive toward not offending anyone this way: “We are killing ourselves, we’ve lost our sense of humor.”
The result of our new world just means I’m wearing out my laptop’s delete key faster than all the others and I don’t know if it’s still under warranty.
– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com