Saturday, March 16, 2013

In which I prove, apparently, that anything can become political...

It's another busy day today. Not in exactly the way I had planned, but busy nonetheless. I was supposed to go to an SCA Arts and Sciences Day, but my roommate had to go to a work meeting, and so here I am. It's fine, though. I really need to work on the book I'm writing, which I've been doing already.

However, while I was taking a break and bounding randomly around the Internet, it came to my attention that today is actor Alan Tudyk's birthday. This probably doesn't have much to do with anything except to Mr. Tudyk and his family and friends. However, mentioning this gives me the opportunity to celebrate yet another of my geekdoms and share my love for "Firefly", in which he played the role of Wash.

Now, I didn't come to Firefly until long after its short, but long lamented, run on the Fox network. Yay, DVDs. People kept telling my that I really needed to see the show, which can best be described as a space western. And I kept saying, "Yeah, right." And then I did sit down with the DVDs and watched the entire series in a couple of long sessions. It took me about an episode and a half to realize how brilliant the show is. And it is brilliant.

I know people have mixed reactions to the work of Joss Whedon, who created not only "Firefly", but the "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer" television series (and wrote the film of the same name) and its spin-off, "Angel", as well as the series "Dollhouse" and the Internet musical "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog". He also wrote and directed the 2012 film, "The Avengers", and has done some other film work. I didn't like "Buffy" much, to be honest, and I didn't get to see enough of "Dollhouse" to really figure it out, which was why I wasn't particularly eager to watch "Firefly".

'm glad I finally did watch it. But I know that I'm not going to convince those of you who aren't Whedon fans, so please don't consider this one of those "you must watch "Firefly", if you watch it enough you'll fall in love with it" attempts. Rather, I'm just here to say that I love it, not that you have to. I've had enough people involved with fandoms that I don't care for do that to me that I'm not about to try to do that to anyone.

However, I ham going to show you this, which is a compilation of quotes from the show put up on YouTube by someone calling themselves jblottingink. Those of us who love the show have a particular fondness for quotes from the show, which do a good job of highlighting the personalities of the characters. I don't love all of the quotes contained in this clip, but most of the ones I do love are incorporated in it:

And then there is this case, which grew out of a quote from "Firefly", and one university police chief's knee-jerk reaction to that quote. Instead of me rehashing the facts of the case, which I remember from when it was going on, just watch this video report about it. I'll tell you up front that it is one-sided and sides with the professor who posted the quote that upset the police chief on his door, but I think that it also makes a good point:

And that point is, at least in my opinion, that knee-jerk reactions about anything, to the right or to the left, in terms of being too politically correct or not being politically-correct enough, are dangerous. In this specific instance, people have to look at the context of what someone says, not just that they said it. I think the video has explained very well what was meant by the quote, and it wasn't that the person who said it was going to kill the person they were talking to, which was how the police chief clearly took it. Mal Reynolds, as played by Nathan Fillion, the character the quote comes from, wasn't telling Dr. Tam, who was concerned about it, that he (Mal) wasn't going to sneak up on the doctor and kill him, but would give him a fair chance in a fair fight if (not when) he found the doctor to be a danger to the captain's ship and crew. If anything, the professor, by posting the quote, was telling his students that he would be fair with them, not that he would ambush them or treat them unfairly in any way. All the police chief saw, apparently, was the word "kill" in the quote and immediately saw a threat.


Maybe that's what's wrong with the world today - well, one of the things. There are too many people who can only see words in isolation and are not able to (or willing to?) analyze their context to find out what is really meant by all the words, in context. The Right does it. The Left does it. Even the Middle, or what's left of it in the United States today, probably does it on occasion. They all need to just stop it and realize that the world is complicated, words carry all kinds of meanings not just individually but in association with other words in the sentences and paragraphs surrounding it.

We have an unfortunate phrase in our culture here in the US. Often, when someone gets upset with someone else, they sort of automatically say, "I'm going to kill you" or "I'm going to kill them" when they don't really mean anything of the kind. Personally, I'm uncomfortable with that usage. I'm not generally a violent person, and as far as I can remember, I have never, ever wanted someone dead. I've never even wanted someone I'm upset with or have disagreed with hurt, physically or emotionally. Really. But my discomfort is bedside the point here. I am a reasonable person, and so know that of the people who use this phrase, rarely or constantly, roughly one in a million of them, if that, actually mean that they want to kill the person they name when they say that. That the police chief in the case outlined in the video I've linked didn't get that kind of worries me, and not just because of the free-speech implications of someone in authority having the ability to dictate what people can and can't post on their office doors. What I worry about more is the state of mind of someone who apparently assumes that anyone who uses the word "kill", or posts the word "kill" in a context that is clearly not threatening, poses the threat that they are ready, willing, and able to actually kill someone.

That's just a ludicrous leap to make, I think.

Well. I didn't mean to get all political here today. But when I found the video about that professor's case and saw how it tied in to "Firefly", I wanted to share it.

However. It's Saturday. Enjoy however much you have left of the day where you are in the world. It's lunch-time here, and I think I'm going to find something to eat.

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