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Where Has Humor Gone?

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
Someone once said that 'humor is the best medicine.'

I sincerely wish I could find that person and have him appear on national television to explain just what he meant. Our country is losing its sense of humor and we need to find it again.

Where did it go?

Last week, Senator Joe Biden made a comment about Senator Barak Obama to the effect that he 'was clean and articulate'. The reactions to his statement have dominated the media for more days than I'd like to count. In Biden's defense, I believe he was trying to compliment Senator Obama not put him down in any way. I am not a big fan of Senator Biden, but come on, give the guy a chance. Let's not crucify everyone over each and every word we say. Biden explained that he thought Obama was 'clean as a whistle' which is a common enough term and one that no one should find offensive.

President Bush was on the news yesterday defending some similar comment he had made along the same lines. Again, his comments were made in a complimentary tone, not a derogative one. Last night the talking heads were each spending way more time than necessary parsing each and every word in the same manner that was probably used to describe how many angels you could get on the head of a pin. As if this information or even the discussion really mattered. Give it a rest.

I find it disturbing that we have to be so careful these days over anything we either say or do in order not to offend anyone at any time for any reason. Where are we headed? I was once married to a woman who analyzed each and every word out of her mouth before she said it. Trust me it was not fun. You always had the notion that she was saying what she thought you wanted to hear, not what she actually thought. It drove me crazy…..I felt sorry for her since I never really felt like she could let down and just say what was on her mind.

Don't get me wrong, I do think we should be careful not to say that that hurt other people's feelings, but give me a break, how politically correct can we aspire to be? I mean, if you want to be really PC, then the best thing to do is not say anything at all to anyone, ever. There isn't a person alive who could say every word perfect without their words being misunderstood by someone looking to pick a fight.

Most of us, my age anyway, are scared to death to compliment someone for fear their words will be taken the wrong way. I can remember when I first started in business many years ago when you felt comfortable enough to tell some young lady at your office that her dress was pretty or that her new hairdo looked nice. Not any longer. In my mind those words can lead to a law suit. How many times have you noticed something stuck to the back of someone's coat or jacket and removed it for them? I wouldn't do this to a man these days, much less some woman. I go out of my way not to touch anyone I don't know. How sad for our society that common actions can be so misinterpreted and misconstrued.

I still open doors for women. I don't think it is wrong to do so and I guess I'll keep on doing it until someone hits me upside the head or cusses me out, or both. I have noticed that about 75% of the women I open a door for, at say, the post office …thank me. The other 25% looks at me as if I am odd or they give me a resentful glare.

I don't much care if they do; I think it is the right thing to do. If I'm on one of those shuttle buses taking me from the airport to the rental car agencies and some lady gets on with a child, I still get up and give or at least offer them my seat. Sad to say, even they are often afraid to take me up on my offer, for some reason or another.

I don't consider these actions to be sexist or racist in any way, it's just the way I was brought up to act. I don't see women as inferior; I just think it a matter of courtesy, the same as I would if I offered my seat on a bus or train to some elderly (older than me) person. I suppose in the days to come I can expect some older person to slap me on the head with a cane or an umbrella.

So be it, I'll just laugh and keep on going. It's worked so far.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America >

February 7, 2007 column
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Comments go to www.pearyperry.com
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