When Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman went on his post-championship game rant against the San Francisco 49ers, I thought, wow, this guy has some issues. He referred to himself as the best cornerback in the league – that seemed classless. He berated his opponents – that seemed thuggish. My impression of him was, let’s say, less than stellar.
And then I read about his personal story – a ghetto kid who made it against all odds; a Stanford University graduate; and, yes, perhaps the best cornerback in football. My initial impression of Richard Sherman wasn’t a true impression of the man. In the heat of the moment, in the glow of the aftermath, he was obviously excited. His team was heading to the Super Bowl and, prior to the game, his defeated opponents spent all week demeaning him. Even the best of us lose it once in a while.
It’s amazing how quickly we judge people. Growing up I always heard people say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” So I don’t typically – although I have to say that the rule has its exceptions. But there seems to be a new standard of judging people: not by the cover of the book, but by a typo or misplaced comma or inarticulate phrase. Political correctness moved us away from the old book cover standard. But this new standard is hardly different. We now judge people on a moment in time, a moment when they’re not their best selves, but a moment hardly reflective of the real person.
If all I knew about Richard Sherman was that moment in time, during that interview, right after the football game, my judgment would have been mistaken. More than that, I would have deprived him of his personhood, dignity and humanity.
Another trend today in judging people is the lack of a sense of humor. Political correctness has just about killed humor. Consider, for a second, this weird Twitter conversation between state Representative Jake Anderegg and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (or his intern or whoever replied). Rep. Anderegg joked about invoking gender identity to use the women’s restroom when the men’s restroom was occupied. The response from the Twitter account of the Senate President jabbed that, in addition to supporting a statewide nondiscrimination law, it now seems Rep. Anderegg is switching his gender. The reply stated, “Just can’t keep up with you! You’re a new man … er … woman.”
Its intent was harmless, but “gay rights” supporters didn’t see it that way. They insisted upon, and received, an apology from the legislators. A transgender person was quoted in the newspaper that she felt hurt by it. The truth is it was a joke. The legislators were not addressing any transgender person individually. The offended chose to take offense. And that is where political correctness has taken us. As Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels recently told New York Magazine, “Democrats tend to take it personally; Republicans think it’s funny.”
I recently told an editorial cartoonist that I thought his cartoon was funny. He immediately took umbrage. Clearly I didn’t understand his cartoon if I, of all people, thought it was funny. Then it dawned on me. His cartoon wasn’t meant to be funny. It was meant to be angry. It was meant to be judgmental. That’s the new progressive sense of humor: It’s personal and it’s mean. So much for unconditional love and tolerance.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.
This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.
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