Closer to the bloody bone and yet a to-and-fro I always admired was posted in a men's room stall at the army base where I was once stationed. "Niger [sic]" one hand-written message began, "go back to Africai [sic]." Below it, in much better penmanship was the rejoinder, "I'm taking your mother and sister with me."
A good insult is not always easy to find. More, there is what I always took to be a fact of life: Everyone needs a certain thickness of skin when passing off this mortal coil. Someone's bound to insult you or your friends or your beliefs and the best you can do is swallow and move forward. And at the end of the day, I suspect the world would be a lesser place if all the insults were swept up and whisked away: Purity can be tiresome.
Now comes the tale of Roseanne Barr whose resurrected TV serial "Roseanne" was abruptly canceled after Barr shot her mouth off:
In a since deleted comment on Twitter, Barr compared Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, to an ape. Barr wrote that if the Islamist political movement “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj."Various Google sites say that Jarrett is black or African-American or whatever the non-insulting terminology is these days. So Barr stepped into a multi-faceted shit pile... black, 'terrorism,' and who knows what other associative bells she set to ringing.
[It may be worth noting here that resurrection of black comedian Bill Cosby's "The Cosby Show" seems to have no problem with re-runs even as the actor faces a raft of insulting charges of philandering.]
This is an era of great 'sensitivity.' Politicians and moguls are dropping like flies from the parapets of their grand castles. Women who were abused in the past come forward and are, at long last, believed. Victims of the Vatican are listened to. Black victims of police bullets come forward with yet another compelling tale. A presumption of guilt seems as pervasive as once a presumption of innocence was. Quit before you get fired ... and a lot of people are quitting.
But with virtue tapping at the door of insults, I find myself balking. Where is the line between driven-snow decency and a little sass on the seas of this life.
Honestly, I can't draw the lines in these sands. A little kindness goes a long way. But does a lot of kindness go too far? Please spare me the oleaginous rejoinders.
I honestly don't know, but I do know that lately I have noticed a growing enjoyment of horse radish.