Friday, July 23, 2010

Just Gotta Be Lovin' That 'Discrimation' ...

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

C.S. Lewis

File this one under the category of pet peeves ...

We all have our collection of pet peeves, don't we? Things that drive us a little bit wacky (or wackier than usual).

So I've often wondered just how much a person's pet peeves say about the person themselves. What drives you nuts might cause me to simply shrug and walk away. And vice versa. So do the things that really get to us tell us anything about ourselves? And others?

The answer is, of course, that I don't really know. But I'm thinking maybe, for at least some of our pet peeves.

I could probably categorize my pet peeves, not that I have that many really, but most of them do tend to fall into fairly discrete categories. And one of my big ones has to do with people screwing up all manner of things legal.

Although this can show up in various ways (anyone ever pay close attention to the court scenes in television or movies?), the one that comes to mind today is people who throw around legal terms without a clue of what they really mean.

For example, people who equate rudeness with discrimination. Or assume that anything that offends them must constitute discrimination. Well, either that or a "hate crime", of course.

And so it was that I opened today's newspaper to find that Neil Rideout considers police enforcement of a section of the Motor Vehicle Act providing that the only motorized vehicles allowed on sidewalks are wheelchairs to be discriminatory. Against him. Because he was "pulled over" for driving a motorized cooler on the sidewalk.

That's right - I actually said "cooler". As in Coleman. The story itself is rather amusing, complete with a police officer asking if he could search the "vehicle".

But what isn't so amusing (at least to me) is Mr. Rideout's contention that he's being "discriminated" against because there is also no provision in the Motor Vehicle Act for electric scooters or motorized kids' toys. Which, I can only presume, he is implying are not being "pulled over" by police.

"Son, stop that Tonka right now and put your hands where I can see them".

But all humour aside, as I've said before, real instances of discrimination do to occur. As does racism. And real hate crimes (against people with disabilities, for example).

There are dangerous consequences to thinking and acting like Humpty Dumpty, I fear.

Because when we, as a society, find discrimination (and racism and hate crimes) lurking under every rock or in every bizarre comment someone makes, we are marginalizing the whole concept to the point of meaninglessness.

And then what word will we have to describe it when it really occurs?

So, yeah, maybe this one is a little bigger than a pet peeve for me ...

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