family kisses baby on the cheeks

The danger of normalizing behavior isn’t what you think.

The danger of normalizing behavior is often associated with the generational aspects we’re too lazy to debate. If young kids are using the N word, blame social media! If some 13 year old is called a slut during a history class, we should again resort to the same argument! If a man in his 30s in caught on tape (meaning, someone’s phone) exhibiting hostility toward a gay couple, well, then we can’t blame social media because some countries have different laws? And would you look at that: it doesn’t matter if we find out the background of the attacker and potential abuser: the laws protect this group of people. Freedom of expression will be called on to solve the debate, but only on the internet. On the ground, people are likely to get hurt. But the laws are perfect, they say. Who do we call on to convince people, each at a time and with proper reasoning, that niggers, sluts and gays are all supposed to be equal under the law?

There’s no “proper reasoning”. If we say that “fair and balanced” is the way to go, we’re saying it doesn’t matter that Black people have endured slavery and the horrors of persecution, among other kinds of assault; we’re not doing enough to protect women, who have, historically, been suppressed of rights; we fail to accept that sexuality is a personal matter, which sounds way too basic for certain groups of Western society and also in the Eastern world (if you’d look at Japan, for instance), but not among others. In a reparations mindset, this means that the TV will have gay couples broadcast, and that was a corporate agreement in line with demands from the public. When you see a Black man on TV, there should be a reminder for everyone that it hasn’t always been like that, and women journalists have yet to see a less toxic environment while on the job; if we’re talking about Don Lemon, with all the criticism you may have, we’re talking about some kind of representation.

It’s not fair and balanced if, for centuries, a system privileged one group, which has accumulated not just wealth but also prestige, influence, power, knowledge and a series of protections, including on how to protect each of those previous items, and then place a coin on the other side of the scale, counterbalanced with the wealth of the International Monetary Fund, and say you’re doing your part, as a champion of social justice. No, you are freaking not. Notice how the internet really works: I’m not allowed to curse. Even among my peers, I’ll be accused of using inflammatory discourse, and that’s a bad thing. But it’s 2023, and everyone’s fucking or at least trying to; I’m just writing a text that serves the common good and I happen to think this is a good adverb of intensity (look at me, I’ve studied Linguistics!) — but they’ll have a prompt answer: do you think about the effect you have on other people? Why do you always wanna steal the show?

Curiously, they don’t make a lot of specific references to who’s stealing actual things and money, actual people. Did you hear about the recent statistics on kidnapping attempts? Did you see the stories talking about money laundering and international banks scamming people? On another front, are you familiar with corporate decisions of making workers go through shorter shifts? Or did you trust a certain network when they said that the labor market was tight? And then everything comes into play: “what do you mean by tight?”, you may ask. The answer might be best informed by ChatGPT. Afterall, it was backed by real data, in huge bulks collected over the years.

If we want to do better in education, as The Guardian suggests, by making sure we stop harassment at school, then we need new materials. What people seem to fail, repeatedly, to realize is that whatever’s new is going to normalize things that weren’t common in a scope of years to the past. It may be 5, but with this pandemic, it may be 3 or even less. A yearly program that updates itself would require new preparation of materials every year; but the problem is that teachers know the goals of the previous year were far from being achieved. They talk about actual recycling, but they don’t like anything too old-fashioned in education — unless they wanna go back to the beginning of the century, when mistakes in math got you a spanking. And now, it seems, we think it’s something absolutely abnormal to even use the word “spanking”, when that’s something we may, and only may, look for on the internet when we’re young and again, might perhaps apply to real life.

The problem is we’re seeking a remedy, because the remedy sells. But the bigger problem is that if you focus on the cure, you’ll meet extremists who want to ban sex from even being debated, at a biological level, as the story reports. For me, there are two genders that I know about. I acknowledge transgender rights. I’m not looking at anyone’s medical history, but if there are other species in nature that have other bodily functions and interact with the environment in different ways, I’m not here to analyze that. I’m here to teach my English class. And the English speaking community, which is large enough to disagree with my every word, since it can’t possibly be legitimate (make a list: racism, xenophobia and so on), will turn a blind eye, if you’ll excuse the expression, to the main arguments and say: “but this could’ve been an email”.

Of course, we have much more urgent things to address. There are violent groups organizing out there. Some of those groups may be represented by the people you least suspected. And that alone is unsettling. If there’s one thing we can do for the betterment of society is to keep violent discourse away from children’s environment. But they will have to face their battles. They will have to confront their bullies, on or offline. What we’re seeing is how this happens on both stances, and ends up generating an even worse bully. Is this what we’re actually having to deal with? A naturalization of bullying? If that means you can refute people with a better argument and facts that contradict what they’re saying, great: that means we’ll have less fake news and hate speech, and both science and common sense win. But the ethical lines are more complicated than that. If I had the job of correcting every person’s English in my country, would I do it for money or just to troll? What’s funny is that now I might wanna do both. And then, invite a Black bisexual woman who likes to show off on the internet to participate in that process. We can talk about China later.

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