Seriously, if you’re looking for something amusing, you might want to come back tomorrow….
When I read that today’s prompt from The Daily post was “stifle” I was immediately thrown back in time to my childhood. Literally, with the really cool crossfade from color to B&W and retro music.
Open on –
Family, gathered around the television, foil wrapped tv dinners TV trays in front of them.
Camera pans faces. Mother, father, son all smiling/laughing.
Camera pans to and tightens on daughter, 14, not smiling. She looks from family to television and back to family curiously.
“Stifle yourself Edith!” comes from the television, and everyone in the room laughs. Daughter’s expression darkens.
“This is NOT FUNNY” the daughter snaps as she runs from run the room.
Ok, so I’m never going to get a job in Hollywood as a screenwriter – but I still don’t think that All In The Family was funny. I understand that Archie Bunker was supposed to be a caricature – a laughable buffoon of a man, whose ideas and comments were mocked and ridiculed as being boorish. I think that those involved with the show (and many of them who watched it) believed that the days of racism and misogyny were on their way out – that we were moving into a bright and shiny future where people where nobody was judged solely by their race/religion/sexual identity. Archie Bunker’s stubborn insistence on living as if time was standing still was supposed to be funny.
I could write an entire post on how the past year has shown how little things have changed. That sexism, racism and the bitterest of hatred towards anything “different than me” are alive and well and living in suburbia. I could, but I won’t – not because I find this behavior acceptable. I won’t, because I can’t. When I think about how “far” we’ve come (HA!), I am hit by an icy wave of despair. My brain freezes, and I find that that I can barely breathe, much less put words together to form sentences*. My 14 year old self runs from the room, screaming and crying hysterically once again (why, yes I was a Teenaged Drama Queen, why do you ask?).
TBH I’m not sure why All In the Family bothered me as much as it did. Was it his racism? Possibly, but I doubt it. Although I didn’t know anyone whose hateful language equaled Mr. Bunker’s, I was intimately familiar with people I considered “friendly racists.” “Black people sure do run fast!” “Yes, Grandma, and Asians are really good at math” (FYI I spent a lot of time in my room thinking about my “smart mouth”). Could it be the way he picked and chose and misquoted the bible? Maybe, but I didn’t spend much time with The Book either. If I had to choose, I would say it was the way he spoke to his wife. He was forever admonishing her to “stifle yourself” or “dummy up”. It rankles, even 40 years later.
But the “lovable bigot” isn’t the only man who would prefer that women stay quiet. Over the weekend I became aware of efforts by Conejo Valley Unified School District board of trustees president Mike Dunn to silence Anonymous Mommy blogger Jess Weihe. The president of the Conejo Valley Unified School District board of trustees went so far as to threaten retaliation against her employer. Unfortunately Mr. Dunn’s tactics have worked – at least one person has pulled his business from Mustang Marketing.
I was appalled (but not surprised) that a local politician would go so far in an attempt to silence an opposing viewpoint. Curious about his mindset, I sent him an email. I didn’t expect him to respond, but he did.
“In my opinion, Jessica Wiehe is a cyper (sic) bully. For months and months she has been attacking republicans, conservatives and Christians on her website…the purpose of my email was to encourage him to stop the abuse.”
I’m not quite sure how threatening someone’s livelihood can be construed as “encouraging”, but maybe his dictionary is different than mine.
IMHO Archie Bunker and Mike Dunn are both assclowns. The difference is that Archie Bunker was a character on TV (superbly portrayed by the amazing Carroll O’Connor). Mr. Dunn is a character who has made it to 2017’s Top Free Speech Offenders and Defenders.
I probably shouldn’t have, but I responded to Mr. Dunn. “It always amuses me when bullies believe they are being bullied….It can be scary when a woman speaks her mind, but our country is supposed to allow us the freedom to speak up. It does not allow us the freedom to threaten others.”
If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in my room, thinking about my “smart mouth”.
*Appropriately enough, the first definition of “stifle” from Oxforddictionaries.com is “(to) make (someone) unable to breathe properly; suffocate“