The Fear of Ridicule Katrina Taylor

I just had a liberating moment. Not earth-shattering but one of those kind of light-bulb moments that cracks open a habitual thought and allows you to see a certain issue from a broader view.

The fear of ridicule is a habit human beings have perpetuated against each other from time immemorial. It’s the fear that keeps us “in place” maintaining the necessary boundaries of civilized society. Those so inclined to roguish & contrary behavior can often, if not always, be kept in check by the fear that they could wind up being “that one”. You know, the the one at the crappy end of hushed whispers, overwhelming silences & the glaring eyes when you’ve crossed whatever unwritten, unspoken line in society’s rulebook.

The fear of ridicule is what had Democrats cowering, unwilling to stand with President Obama because of the successful bully tactics employed by the right. So effective was the use of this fear that, for months, the U.S. electorate was forced to choke down lies & distortion from those who were supposed to be informing & leading us. It was the lead in to the Iraq War all over again, with facts & the protests of the people held in contempt. Former Vice President, Dick Cheney’s infamous response in an interview question about the citizenry’s concern over war, “So?” says it all. After all, what does it matter what the electorate thinks?

There was outrage over Cheney’s heartless remarks and this general disregard for the opinions of the masses but it was drowned out by the corporate bought-and-paid-for MSM muddying of the waters with pundits on both the right & the left.

But, truth will out, the American people have spoken and we now know that we’re fed up and we don’t have to take this shit anymore.

However long the slough may be, we do not have to take it anymore.

I’ll admit that it’s not an altogether unworthy fear, this fear of ridicule, comparable to the fear of fire or other dangerous things. A society without such boundaries could easily decline into anarchy as we’ve witnessed in parts of this nation and around the world. However, the fear of ridicule has also kept hidden among us geniuses and leaders who carry gifts that could benefit everyone. But the fear of ridicule, of showing up “different” from the rest of the sheep, often keeps these bright lights in the shadows.

This old habit seems to be changing these days, also liberated by the reelection of President Obama, which was the ultimate sign that the page of our past has turned. It’s even reaching beyond race & gender, those dog-whistle issues, with people stepping up to challenge many false and/or outgrown beliefs of the past. All kinds of people are taking the risk of showing up fully, bucking the fear of ridicule, and stating facts unapologetically, bringing the necessary issues to the forefront of conversation. Many of these voices have been around for sometime but they were lost in the noise that made possible arguments out of the ridiculous & inane.

I was watching Melissa Harris Perry on MSNBC this Sunday morning and the brisk, lively and authentic discussion between a divergent & representative panel felt like a smack upside the head.  Of course, I knew things had changed but this time of year is my typical shut-down period, with all the end-of-year/New Year prospects to ponder. The solstice season rightly aligns with the idea of hibernation as all of nature prepares to go underground, literally & figuratively, to rest, recuperate, and rebuild. So my television has been off for the past two weeks, except for a few comedies & love stories.

So when I ventured back into the world of news this morning and saw Tulane political science professor, Melissa Harris-Perry’s bright presence announcing her show about the silly season of 2012, the filament in my mind began buzzing with the prospects. Unlike the overwhelming bullshit of the past four years, the ring of truth was in the air. I didn’t have to brace myself for the inevitable onslaught of twisted & compromised logic. The time had surely come in many ways to exhale. I hadn’t even realized how much I’d been still holding my breath, conditioned by the expectations formed over the years.

Professor Harris-Perry has never shied away from the challenging issues, those that, in the past, could place one at that crappy end of the stick, and her staunch advocacy for the truth has catapulted her to the forefront of news integrity. Her down-to-earth realness has an appeal that invites even the most hardened critic to, at least, listen.

The panel on MHP this morning was kicked off by stand-up comic, writer & cohost of Radio Dispatch, Molly Knefel and Founder of New York American Comedy Festival, Maysoon Zayid. Melissa kept addressing adjunct professor & former spokeswoman for Howard Dean, Dorie Clark, as a man because, quite frankly, Ms. Clark decidedly looks like a man, which was uncomfortable and awesome at the same time. Where would we be without the brave ones willing to simply show up as who they are and face the ridicule of the insecure?

And cohost of Citizen’s Radio, Jamie Einstein’s opening salvo upon introduction, “I’m sorry for my people” opened up the space for the kind of media exchange I have craved and had all but lost hope for.

The discussion topic of “The Funny, Absurd, and Ridiculous Moments of 2012” brought to mind the fact that the gloves really are off. No more oppressive, stifling weight of the fear of ridicule for just stating basic facts. We can once again, delve into reality and the truth has regained a place in the national discourse. Indeed, the truth seems to have been boosted by it’s near-death during the last presidential campaign and pundits, too, are celebrating its revival.

Maysoon Zavid, “a Palestinian Muslim with cerebral palsy from New Jersey” and the first woman to ever perform stand up comedy in Palestine and Jordan, laid out the facts on the war on women with her simple analysis of Republican motivations. As a woman, Zavid said, “they’re trying to kill me”, citing the archaic laws that Republican led legislatures are passing around the country. The conversation just got better from there.

Comedian and self-described, “brilliant muse” (and I wouldn’t disagree), Elon James White’s, spontaneous monologue on how “white privilege” played out during the presidential campaign was a funny, exhilarating &  needed observation that made a not-so-poison pill easier to swallow. A spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down.

After 20 minutes of such engaging & insightful exchange, Professor Harris-Perry went on to play a game where each panel member had a “race card” to flash if they thought the event shown on the screen was a racist one. Even this light-hearted display was an informative examination of the kinds of things real people think and want to talk about. From Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer’s “feeling threatened” and wagging her finger in President Obama’s face to Newt Gingrich’s student to janitor work program and all the things formerly lost in what was considered “perfectly reasonable” in the 24/7 news cycle, this witty and insightful group got my Sunday morning off to a tremendous start.

I’ve always been hopeful, as you can see from much of my writing, but now my natural optimism is off the charts. All the frustration, fighting, confusion, and tireless efforts of 2012, the intense constriction of the aorta of our national  dialogue has been released, liberated to pump the life’s blood of facts, authenticity, and common good back into our veins. The collective exhale continues and I am heartened by our will to cast off the burdens of former restrictions and breathe life back into what works.

In the vast realms of time, humanity stumbles & falls, the imperfect dance towards the light of understanding. We evolve and the shadows of the ridiculous are called out. The fear of ridicule lessens and we find ways to talk to each other.

These are the makings of bright futures. Today is a good day.

The MHP Show episode noted here hasn’t yet been posted on the website but should be up by 12/31/12.

Here’s the link: The Melissa Harris-Perry Show


~ by katrinataylor44 on December 30, 2012.

5 Responses to “The Fear of Ridicule”

  1. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Great post Ms. Katrina…thank you for sharing some good old fashioned common sense, facts and truth.

  2. This is a problem we will have to tackle as a nation in 2013.

  3. You can’t bluff … The game of heart is not a good game to play … If you want something or love someone … You must be willing to sacrifice … And be willing to give anything and everything which is not limited to dying together … “To some it’s a game” … For me … I won’t fall in love unless .. i feel you will protect and die for me if need be … Since .. i will lie for you and die for you … If need be … And that is what you call true love … “It is not a taunting game or child’s play” … I will never jump into a river … *If i have no intention of swimming the long course of a river* …

    • The heart is not a playing field, for sure.

      “I won’t fall in love unless .. i feel you will protect and die for me if need be … Since .. i will lie for you and die for you … If need be … And that is what you call true love … “It is not a taunting game or child’s play”

      Beautiful. Thank you

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