Monday, June 28, 2010

"honor" minority traditions in their own (racist) ways

Last week, a French dancer named Alizee Sery drew a lot of angry attention to one of her performances. Despite her subsequent claims to the contrary, getting into the international news cycle may have been her intention all along. At any rate, and whatever Sery's own racial makeup, what she did -- by traveling to Australia, climbing atop a site considered sacred by Aboriginal people, having herself filmed while dancing and stripping, and then defending her actions as a way of honoring Aboriginal traditions -- ended up being a common white thing to do.

First, here's a (safe-for-work) news-clip on what Sery did atop Uluru, a rock formation formerly known by the Australian white conquerers' name, Ayers Rock:

In a subsequent interview, Sery defended her actions by claiming, "What I did was a tribute to their culture, in a way. I think the way I was, was the perfect way to be up there, in total harmony with the land and with myself."

More ridiculously, Sery also said her self-aggrandizing publicity stunt was a tribute to the days when, you know, those groovy, close-to-the-earth peoples were even closer to the earth than we are by virtue of their lack of clothing:

I respect the aboriginal and their culture. What I did was a tribute to their culture, in a way. . . . What we need to remember is that traditionally the Aboriginal people were living naked. So stripping down was a return to what it was like.

Sery may have thought she was honoring indigenous traditions (though I doubt that she really cares about honoring much of anything, other than her own body). But seriously, shouldn't the estimation of whether such acts constitute an honorable, respectful "tribute" be left to the supposed honorees?

Various online reports suggest that Sery has no interest in actually listening to the people whose culture and traditions she claims to respect. If and when she does, she'll find out that a lot of them, including those who currently own Uluru, are angry.

As noted in the news-clip above, "traditional owners of Uluru" described Sery's stunt as "an insult, and they want the woman deported." According to the Brisbane Times, Sery

has been labelled "stupid" and local indigenous elders have described the act as the equivalent of defecating on the steps of the Vatican.

Alison Hunt, traditional owner and member of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of management said: "I am angry and disgusted at this stunt. This is an important spiritual place. It's not a tribute to the traditional owners, it's an insult.

"We try to share our land and work together and we think it is disgusting for someone to try and make money out of our sacred land."

Disgusting indeed, and again, a blatant attempt to make money and drum up publicity (interesting term, that -- "drum up" . . .). More to the "swpd" point, Sery seems to be furthering her dancing career in a common white way, by casting something authentically Aboriginal as a natural, romantic, wild, and exotic backdrop. This amounts to a racially white performance, because it's meant to evoke and profit from some of the many collective white fantasies about non-white people.

In this sense, Sery's actions, and her defense of them, echo similar ones committed in the U.S. by many white people, who also tend to romanticize and exotify indigenous people. To me, the most obvious parallel way they do so is by clinging to racist sport logos and mascots. White American sports fans cling to mascots that represent several racial groups in racist ways, but the overwhelming majority (past and present) represent Native Americans.

When white people defend such insults in the way that Sery did -- by claiming that they're honoring instead of disrespecting the human objects of their racist caricatures -- they're failing to listen to the other side. By doing so, they're ultimately failing to understand what a lot of people on the other side think, and feel. They're failing to empathize.

So, what to do, when confronted with such common white ways? I think that turning the tables, in the way an indigenous person described above did, can have some impact on such simplifying, appropriating, and insulting white people. I've actually seen it work.

Again, an Aboriginal person was paraphrased as having "described the act as the equivalent of defecating on the steps of the Vatican."* There you go, white people -- how would you feel, if your own sacred traditions were effectively shat upon? Would you really consider that a sincere "tribute"?

I remember hearing (or actually, seeing) another good example of that same kind of table-turning, during a talk by a Native American author, Sherman Alexie. Someone in the audience asked him about a local college's Native American mascot, which was currently under review. Alexie's answer was more of a demonstration, or a pantomime; the white people I attended his talk with later told me that it really got through to them. They even told other white friends about it later.

"Oh yes, I heard about that mascot," Alexie said, rather mischievously (he gets his points across with a lot of humor -- he's often hilarious). "And, I've been thinking about a replacement. Here's what I suggest."

Alexie then stepped to the side of the podium, spread his arms wide with his hands splayed towards us, pulled his toes together, and let his head droop forward. Many in the audience signaled that they got his point by applauding. Alexie offered no further explanation.

I've since confronted people in the U.S. who see no problem with team names and mascots like the "Indians" and the "Redskins" in a similar way.

"So you don't mind that?" I ask. "Really? Okay, well, what about a team named, say, the New Jersey Jesuses?"

This idea usually evokes a laugh. An uncomfortable one, especially if they themselves are Christian.

I'll then say something like, "Doesn't that sound great? The mascot could dance at half-time, like some of those 'Indian' ones do! And he could drag a huge cross around the basketball court, with a wheel on the end of it. And at the climax of his dance, he could spin the cross around and around, and actually dance with the cross!"

By this time, my point (or rather, Alexie's point) is usually made, and usually well taken. By which I mean, the person who'd just defended a racist, common white practice is now less enthusiastic about doing so. I can see it in their faces.

* The person who actually made this comparison is identified in this article as "Aborigine John Scrutton, who lives in the Northern Territory city of Darwin."


  1. this post might be subtitled "don't listen..."

    that's at the crux of this problem, i think. i'm reminded of the email i sent you, macon - the discussion of whether or not it's ok for white people to have dreads. constantly white folks will want to defend themselves, instead of just listening to why it's offensive.

    i also recently read about white (non-Jewish) folks incorporating the chuppah into their wedding ceremonies and being unyielding as folks try to explain why that might be offensive.

    it's not enough to offend, but then they also want to tell you that you're wrong for being offended. you know, sometimes i'm sure that the issues wp need to overcome to stop being racist really aren't that numerous. as we see on this blog, a lot of it intersects.

  2. Why do some Whites feel that POC want them to pay tribute to our cultures? Keep your bloody paws off them.

  3. "What I did was a tribute to their culture, in a way. I think the way I was, was the perfect way to be up there, in total harmony with the land and with myself."

    Whenever any white person used the word "harmony" for a non-"white" culture, then I automatically lose respect for them. I can't tell you how many times I've heard white people describing themselves having feelings "in harmony" with the people of India or any other country. Makes me wanna hurl.

    Macon, I like your suggestion for the New Jersey Jesuses. Or how about re-name "Redskins" as "Rednecks." We can have a redneck mascot, throw in the cross, the banjo and a toy goat!

  4. A heads up: don't read the Daily Mail comments.

  5. I feel really dumb for asking, but can anyone please explain what does this mean? I tried to inagine his movements in my head and I dont know what the hell it was supposed to symbolize:

    "Alexie then stepped to the side of the podium, spread his arms wide with his hands splayed towards us, pulled his toes together, and let his head droop forward. Many in the audience signaled that they got his point by applauding. Alexie offered no further explanation."

    explain, please .__.'

  6. Jihad Punk 77,

    He meant this.

    A toy goat? That's excellent.

  7. @Jihad Punk -- Alexie was miming the crucifixion. Thus the suggestion of the "New Jersey Jesuses."

  8. I thought the French had taste.

  9. The dancer in this video is full of it! The only culture that she is paying homage to is that of a strip club.

    Do the Uluru women go to their sacred place and strip? If it is natural within their culture to wear minimal clothing that is not the same as being fully dressed and going into the first phase of a pole dance routine.

    As usual, after the offense is committed comes the apologies. That are always filled with over tones of how much respect there is blah...blah..blah..that is truly predicatable.

  10. Sounds like Ke$ha wearing a warbonnet. And needless to say, a commenter shows up in that thread and says, "If you knew anything about Ke$ha, you'd know that the Native American headdress is a symbol of her album Animal. Her hopes for the album were that people would let go of convention and give into their animal instincts, even if just for the 53 minutes of the album. She holds Native Americans of the past in high regard because of the fact that they were much more in-tune with their animal instincts than other people of their day or even today." Which clearly makes it a perfect example for this post.

  11. Rant alert!
    This is just not cool on so many levels, but there are two things that bother me more than others.
    First, I dislike people who do not care about my culture using *our* meaningful rituals to add a taste of the "exotic" to whatever they are doing (I detest the word "exotic", but that is another story for another time). It trivializes whatever thing they're appropriating and dismisses its spiritual or cultural significance.
    Second (and more specifically), I really hate the whole "naked and closer to the earth" thing. There are so many negative things associated with nakedness in "white"/"Western" culture that it's hard not to see the association of nakedness with indigenous cultures as a put-down.

  12. I mean, get naked on a mountaintop if you want to. (preferably not a sacred Uluru one.) Even talk about how it gets you closer to the earth or whatever.

    But why try to link it a specific culture other than your own? YOU wanted to get naked and dance on a mountain, what's that got to do with Indigenous Australians or American indians? Why can't white people get "back to nature" without evoking black or brown people in an insulting way.

  13. Could you maye change the post title to "claim to honor minority traditions"? I think it's pretty clear that the white actions under discussion do not, in fact, honor the traditions in ANY way, white OR otherwise.

    Re: nudity

    Given the number of naked/half naked Greek, Roman, European medieval & early modern sculptures and naked/half naked people in paintings from the same eras...why don't white people ever honor those traditions by performing a striptease in, say, Westminster Abbey?

  14. I see what you mean, Willow, so I'll change it from

    honor minority traditions in their own (offensive) ways


    "honor" minority traditions in their own (racist) ways

  15. @macon d---I thank you for having this blog. It's a very important place for us to discuss these issues of some white people's mentality.
    But I have to ask: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the enormity of this fight you're waging? How do you keep from hating white people, or having a double consciousness from all of this? Visit me at

  16. "...the equivalent of defecating on the steps of the Vatican."

    Took the words right out of my mouth.

    There's a big difference between respecting & celebrating someone else's culture, and trampling all over it. If she really wanted to honor their culture, maybe she should have done some research first (and I don't know, maybe *talk to the people that are actually part of that culture*) to find out something she could do that they might actually appreciate. Or maybe just use a little common sense and not try to speak for people who can speak for themselves, and that she doesn't know anything about.

    Is this woman too stupid to see the racism in her actions? "Oh, they will love the fact that I got naked on their mountains just like they did! Because all primitives lived naked, hur hur."

    That kind of thinking feeds into the Magical Native American stereotype, where indigenous peoples are always have magical, mystical aura about them, they're closer to the Earth, they aren't just 'normal' like us white folks, amirite...


  17. *have this magical

    Blarg. Forgive my bad grammar.

  18. @Anna Renee,

    Overwhelmed? No. It is a frustrating fight against an enormous problem that isn't likely to die in my lifetime, but knowing that doesn't overwhelm me. I think that's because I know that if racism is going to die, it won't die without a fight. I feel like I'm taking part in that fight, and that that's a better thing to do than sitting back and basking in the benefits of my white privilege.

    How do you keep from hating white people, or having a double consciousness from all of this?

    It's de facto white supremacy that I hate, not white people themselves. I know lots of good white people. However, they're trapped in the ongoing influence and effects of a racist history that most of them don't understand. As for a double consciousness -- actually, trying to develop one of those for myself, in terms of race, has been a motive that keeps me going with this blog. Writing down and spelling out common white tendencies, and having to articulate them for readers, helps me keep those tendencies in mind, and it also helps me watch out for them in myself. I think that white people are currently trained not to have a racial double consciousness; we usually just think of ourselves (falsely) as free-floating individuals, whose racial status doesn't have much of anything to do with who we are and where we've arrived. That's a pathology that I'm trying to cure myself of.

  19. Hi Maccon, firstly I wanted to say a big thank-you for this blog. I really appreciate having a safe place to ask questions and to look at ways to actively try to be less racist in my thoughts and actions. I really appreciate it.

    Having said that, I'd like to ask what might seem like a stupid question. I want to ask where the line is between appreciating another culture and its art forms and where it reaches an offensive level. It's easier to see the big off-the-rails situations, like this particular dancer who invaded a sacred space without considering any needs but her own.

    But what about cases where you're teaching a children's writing class and have the kids write poetry that is inspired by Langston Hughes? I had a dance teacher back in high school who wanted to expose us to different kinds of dance and sponsored workshops in a variety of dance styles and brought in guest dancers to teach us everything from tap to African dance (I'm sure this was more country-specific, but it was more than ten years ago and I've forgotten- apologies!)

    Does this sort of thing fall under the banner of cultural appropriation? Or just appreciation? And where is the line where we should be trying to catch ourselves?

  20. Can't add anything to what's already been said, but a most interesting post and I share your outrage. "defecating on the steps of the Vatican" is a particularly good one.

  21. Never mind that she shouldn't have even been on top of it in the first place if she wanted to "honour" the traditional owners - they ask tourists not to climb it. There's a big sign there and everything.

  22. This also goes with - SWPD: Romanticize Indigenous People, Cling to Racist Mascots (already mentioned), and especially Appropriate Otherness.

    And Griffin, I hope you don't mind my response but my rule of thumb is this: if I don't belong to the culture, I don't try to emulate it *UNLESS* I am being invited by someone of that culture to participate. I view that as a one-time thing to be let in for a moment, and I don't take it as a pass to continue on my own. It's a gift to be let in, and it's wonderful to educate yourself further on elements of cultures that aren't your own, but don't try to own it, and don't assume expertise on it.

    As a future high school English teacher I will be viewing Langston Hughes as American. His writings are a reflection of his experience as a African-American in America. People who are not African-American will never write of an African-American experience in America because they will never have such an experience. Read Hughes's Theme for English B for some insight on that. I would focus on the era in which Langston wrote, the Harlem Renaissance, educate the class on that period of time and have Hughes's poems, along with others from the period (Claude McKay, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, etc.) illustrate what it was like to experience life then. The students' writings should either focus on style OR focus on having the children write their experiences as Americans during *this* era. My main goal would be that the children be able to understand what life was like back then, and what it meant for the human beings who were not white to live through that. That's just my 2 cents.

  23. @ JenRB,

    I doubt she thought of herself as a "tourist."

    I think this goes under the category of "white entitlement"--WP feel like we have a right to ALL cultures. That we can out-POC the actual POC.

    (Today's white song of the day: "Anything you can do, I can do better...")

  24. Hi Victoria,

    Thank-you very much for your advice :) I very much appreciate it. It's an area that I do feel uncertain about, especially when it involves art and writing that stem from particular cultural experiences. I want to be able to express admiration for it, but not in a way that takes for granted that I understand the culture that inspired a given work.

    I'm studying right now to be a librarian, so I really want to get this right. The job will mean that I'll be facilitating people's interactions with information to some degree, and I want to be sure that I'm able to frame the books (and other information) in a way that respects the groups of people that it represents.

    I guess the way to treat working with art and writing that lies outside of my experience is to think of it in the same way I would an invite to a friend's church service. The rules and rituals won't be completely familiar, but as a guest, I am not there to improvise new ones, but rather to observe and treat it with the same respect that I would wish others to treat what was sacred to me.

    PS) I think that you're going to be an amazing English teacher. Just the small part of the Langston Hughes lesson plan you mentioned sounds wonderful. Your students will be so lucky to learn with you! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

  25. @Willow,

    Thanks for the laugh! I needed that. (And that really IS a white song, isn't it?)


    Thanks for your answer to Griffin's question; I totally agree, and I hope others will answer too (and I second Griffin's enthusiasm for your evident awesomeness as a teacher). As for me, I don't think there's a hard-and-fast rule or guideline to follow, since situations vary, but generally, I also don't see a reason to emulate another culture unless invited to do so by a member of it. Even then, I wouldn't think I was having some "authentic" experience that represents that people's "culture," because it's just one experience that probably doesn't represent something embraced by everyone in that group -- assuming that "group" can even be accurately discerned as such (I'd also avoid the outsider's temptation to see the group in monolithic terms, and to exotify or romanticize what I'm experiencing as something "authentic"). I'd also try to keep my whiteness in mind -- my racial privilege, and my training -- the white glasses, and blinders, that I'm inevitably wearing.

  26. @Macon What you said

    "Even then, I wouldn't think I was having some "authentic" experience that represents that people's "culture," because it's just one experience that probably doesn't represent something embraced by everyone in that group... and to exotify or romanticize what I'm experiencing as something "authentic")"

    reminds me greatly of the way white people come up to me and ask me questions like where are you from and when I mention I'm African they go on to tell me how they went to Africa and how they "found themselves" and the poverty was an "eye opening experience" for them. It just makes me roll my eyes.

    @JenRB Wow there's even a sign and she went on to strip on the mountain? That is just very disrespectful. Almost like saying 'Hey the rules don't apply to me'

  27. I doubt this bimbo even knows what the Aboriginal culture is all about. Whites seem to think that dark-skinned people's culture is all about nudity and dancing. To whites that's all there is to know about "those" people, and anyone who is offended is wrong.

  28. @Macon

    Those are important points to make. I believe that seeking authenticity comes from the belief in monolithic world views. Like there's one specific way to view a culture. And the white interest in that "one way" is done with the hope of mastery and conquering it as a subject instead of a multi-faceted, complicated (or beautifully simple) element of another culture, worthy of being appreciated silently with the acceptance that one may never fully understand it.


    I think the dance teacher who invited guests was on the right track. If someone of that culture really feels the desire to help you teach a concept, certainly invite him or her in. But be careful about what you're inviting them for. Remember - concepts (the history of oral tradition, how to write traditional haiku, etc.), not entire cultural commentary (using one person to be the voice of an entire culture). I hate more to add but I'll blog it. Thanks for listening.

  29. Griffin said...
    “Having said that, I'd like to ask what might seem like a stupid question. I want to ask where the line is between appreciating another culture and its art forms and where it reaches an offensive level. It's easier to see the big off-the-rails situations, like this particular dancer who invaded a sacred space without considering any needs but her own.”

    If this woman had been invited by the aboriginal people, to participate in their ceremonies- to learn their culture first-hand; to live and breathe aborigine. Allowing the experience to bring her into a deeper understanding of who and where they come from (Empathy) I doubt very much she would have wiggled up there at all. Ostensibly, if she had chosen to offer tribute to these people it should have been more in the line of this. Not some cheap- tawdry strip routine by a woman who’s in love with her own body.

  30. @ Victoria

    Thanks again for writing about this. I really appreciate the clarification. My sense from my dance teacher was always that she wanted us to look at the many different forms of dance and see that there was not simply one way of looking at things. She would always defer to others in areas that went outside of her training, and I never got the sense that she was representing any sort of all-encompassing idea.

    My concern was more that these kind of things, like say, taking a class in Moroccan cooking, could be their own kind of appropriation. I'm only just starting to become (and I know I've still got loads to learn) self-aware of my own privilege, and so I'm feeling like I should be hyper-sensitive about everything.

    From what you've said, I think that there can be a balance of ideas: that it is all right to seek more information, to study and observe a particular culture, but that steps back from claiming any kind of expertise, and respecting the wishes of that particular group in terms of how far you take things.

    @ M Gibson

    I definitely agree with you that there is no way that this woman meant any sort of tribute to the people whose rituals and express wishes she didn't pay any heed to. I think that the best route if you are interested in a culture outside of your own is to do a lot of research and learn whatever there is to learn. I'm not sure if there is a point where it is all right to approach someone from a particular group and ask to be taught, but you're probably in a much better place if you think of that as the very last thing you do, after a great deal of study on your own part. And if you do approach someone that you do so humbly without any sense of entitlement.

    I do also agree with the general idea that White people (myself included) are looking for meaningful ways to belong. That still doesn't give us the right to try on other peoples' cultures like they were different suits of clothes. Instead I think we need to find (or create) positive communities that are open to all and give back (there's lots out there that needs doing). I think that part of repairing the great hurts of the past means that we need to be out in the trenches doing what we can to even the playing field for the future.

  31. Re: authenticity...

    In the video, Sery (the dancer), claimed she did her little performance in honor of the way things used to be done. In other words, NOT the way that is authentic according to modern, living, ALIVE indigenous persons. The way that is "authentic" according to the white outsider.

    (I guess this is the Down Under and French version of 'swpd: fetishize Native Americans in aspic': the desire to maintain the white-projected charade of indigenous peoples/cultures as locked up in their past, pre-European/Christian contact state. Among other things, this prevents WP from having to deal with the injustices that we continue to do to Native peoples and cultures today).

  32. this is a great site.
    and having lived and still living in france, as a south african born italian - i can honestly say - the french are really quite pompous and full of themselves. i thought italians were bad - and having lived in Holland - i thought the dutch were quite self righteous. but the french - anything they think and do is THE ONLY WAY. they dont listen to anyone elses opinion. on ANY subject. i mean, half of china - if not more - is learning english - but the french?? no, the whole world will and must learn french, because it is a 'civilised' language.... like it was the first spoken language... and it is the ONLY country in the WORLD, where OFFICIALLY, French speaking people - who can hardly speak english, are chosen above monther tongue english teachers - to teach children and university students ENGLISH..... I just cant get my head around that one.... it's part of their pride. just look at the football world cup.

    and about whites knowing best??? i mean, South AFrica is SO full of white people - from the dutch to the brits to the 'whites' who thought they knew what is 'best' for the native peoples of africa.... what a complete disaster... no, sorry, the white race have been a true curse on this earth. GOD have mercy on us all!!!

    and i dont want to proselytize anyone but there is a scripture that says this.... "Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor's boundary stone." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!" Deut 27:17... well, from the native peoples of north america, to south america - africa.... every place where white man has set foot on.... they are a cursed people.... because every where they went, they had NO respect for the people they found there.... i love it when they call them "the first settlers". my GOODNESS!!! so the people who were there were either not HUMAN, or not WHITE... take your pick.. anyway, enough for today....


  33. @Willow Oh for sure, she sounds like the sort of person who would go to great pains to explain she's a traveller, not a tourist. I love her claim about "how things used to be done" - I guess she's referring to the fact that many tribes traditionally (well, still, in some areas) didn't wear a lot of clothing... hard to see where she got the idea that the Anangu used to do strip teases on top of what is, essentially, their cathedral.

    @A Girl, there's a sign on the base of the rock, and there's also more detail about it at the cultural centre. But it's also one of those place where, when you see it, you suddenly realise that to climb it would be to miss the point entirely. Uluru is a truly powerful place, and I say that as someone with no religious beliefs. When you get there, you understand why it's held in such esteem. And even if you don't get that feeling: There's a sign, people! They don't want you to climb it! Gah.

    For more detail, if you're interested:

  34. The Catholic parallel that jumped to my mind, rather than pooping on the Pontifex's porch, was climbing to the top of St. Peter's, stripping naked and raping a 12 year old boy. But then I'm not such a fan of the Catholic church (well, any church, really).

    Hmm. This does raise an ethical question in terms of respect of other cultures (especially from me as an atheist): where do you draw the line between respect and 'oh, please'? At one end is the stuff that (I would hope) everyone would agree on: female genital mutilation is wrong, killing people for being gay is wrong. (right?)

    OK, then come grey areas (or I suppose ones closer to home) - what about male circumcision (god really wants your son's foreskin?)? Then the extreme case - my opinion is that it's foolish to hold any place 'sacred'(whatever that even means) from a religious sense, because my personal belief is that religion is pretty foolish. So, one could say that by not climbing Uluru I'm incurring a cost (not doing something I want to do) based on their religion.

    (in the end, I didn't climb Uluru but spent a day hiking in the Olgas, which in a way are even cooler)

    I think we can all agree that this woman pretty clearly fell on the jerk side of the divide - my question to you guys is how or where do you personally draw the line when asked to respect someone's culture that you disagree with or even find abhorrent?

  35. @dersk, re. 'how or where do you personally draw the line when asked to respect someone's culture that you disagree with or even find abhorrent?'

    uuuuhm... is this a trick question? If you disagree with, or find abhorrent, a certain cultural practice - whether its female genital mutilation, male circumcision, belief in sacred sites or just religion in general - you're going to have a hard time respecting it, aren't you?

    Respect is a sentiment - you either feel it or you don't. You can't make yourself feel warmly towards something you despise or hold in contempt. Though if you despise something out of ignorance, learning more about it might change your point of view... Or it might not; you might come to a fully informed assessment that there are certain cultural practices and values that you - as a reasonable human being that has given the matter some thought - find abhorrent.
    Forgive me if I've misunderstood, but it looks as though you are seeking absolution to hold views and opinions on cultural difference that your 'peers' on this site may not approve of. If that is what you are seeking, I think you're going to be disappointed!
    Or are you asking for advice on how to become a more 'right thinking' person who never, ever, negatively judges any aspects of a non-white, western culture... Hmmm...A lobotomy, perhaps?

    Oh for heaven's sake dersk, why are you asking these people whether it's OK for you to have an opinion?

  36. @Mashup - I was thinking more about religion than race, actually. It started a few months ago when I was in Milan - we went to have a look at a cathedral right when the latest round of news about the child abuse scandals was coming out. The entrance to the church had a huge sign "This is a church. Respect our rules: ..." and something about the sign and its list of rules infuriated me. I should respect a bunch of kiddie rapists by making sure my shoulders are covered?

    I think your model of respect is a bit oversimplified - you can disagree with something while still respecting it. For example, as a vegetarian I can respect meat eaters who have thought about the issue, even thought I think they ought to be vegetarian. It's that grey area that I was interested in, where it becomes more a matter of opinion, or not speaking up, or modifying one's one behavior.

    Feel like I'm probably still not making myself clear, but please believe I don't really feel a need to ask people for permission to form a contrary opinion. Maybe this is the question - how do you guys decide when or when not to express that contrary opinion?

  37. @dersk But in respecting those rules for going into the church, you're not just respecting the religion, you're respecting the believers of that religion. That's an important space for a lot of people, few of whom, I would imagine, condone paedophilia. That church belongs to the Catholic church, and the people who worship there. They're not telling you you have to change what you're wearing in the street, but if you want to enter their space, you should abide by their rules, and I fail to see how anyone could have a problem with that.

  38. Just don't emulate languages/cultures/religions that don't belong to you. US singer Madonna got into a lot of trouble for singing "Ashtangi" from her Ray of Light album as many Hindu people found it offensive. Madonna is a white female singer that constantly fetishizes other cultures/races/gays and spiritual belief systems to suit her capitalist ways. Many people don't know she's been sued more than 20 times, having to settle out of court, for her behavior...and yes there is court evidence to prove this. Stay away from other cultures and even if you are invited, it's still won't be authentic to you because it's not YOU. It's like being abused, you won't know what it's like until you've experienced it.

  39. White people must not see this blog. Otherwise they will shout "I have freedom of speech/expression" or "Political correctness" or "Everyone is allowed to hate whites but whites are not allowed to hate anyone" et al. ad infinitum.

  40. The Jesus mascot thing sounds AWESOME. I know this wasn't the point of the article but I would love to see that.


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