Thursday, September 13, 2007

On insults of various kinds

So there's this guy in my lab section who is...a real pain. He was in my last semester's lab section, too, so we know each other...and we constantly butt heads. His name is Marc. The height of the hostility last semester included him trying to (a) usurp my glassware and (b) getting nearly thrown out of lab for it after he (c) called me a f****** c*** when I told him to get the holy hell out of my glassware drawers. We have quite a rapport. Through it all, though, there is a little bit of sibling-like ... I dunno. Suffice to say that I don't actually hate him. Most of the time. I just wish he'd go away. Far away.

When we were turning in our lab reports on Wednesday, and Marc (of course) says to me "That's totally an abnormally thick lab report, yo. That's like, ridiiiiiculous." My response (pretty good for right off the bat, I think) was "Yeah, well it's better than me being abnormally thick, isn't it, Marc?" (Rest of the lab: "ooooooooooooooooooooooo")

And then I felt a little bad for escalating it so early in the year--I mean, we're in the third week of class here, folks. And I felt bad because I wanted to reassure him "Not that I'm calling you fat, or anything."

What? I live in a culture in which I consider it a worse insult to be called fat than to be called stupid?! To me, being called stupid is much worse (if it's from someone whose opinion matters)--but maybe that's because I identify first of all as an intellectual. In any case, it was a bit disturbing to note that I only felt bad about calling him fat (maybe because he is, a little? Maybe because I actually think he is stupid?). Stupid, he deserves. Fat, I dunno. Weird.

Had a conversation with Rumi a few days later about the nature of "that's so gay". She thinks that because you can choose to be offended or not, people should just get over it and stop giving the people who would say something like that the power to hurt them. My position (much less sound-byte friendly) is that there is no reason to say something like that because if you're saying it because you're bigoted, then it's hate speech, and that's not ok. And if you're saying it because you're not bigoted, then why are you perpetuating a culture of bigotry? In either case, you shouldn't be saying it also because it cripples your vocabulary quite harshly. It surprised me that she thought that it shouldn't matter. It also surprised me because a part of her argument was "I don't say anything because I don't want people to worry about having to walk on eggshells (sic) around me--is that really what you want? For people to walk on eggshells (sic) around you?" Actually, yes, it is. I don't want to hear racist, chauvinist, misogynist, sexist, or bigoted jokes. I don't find them funny, and I don't want to give people an audience for that sort of unacceptable behavior. It astounds me that some people regard that as an extreme action. To me, not tolerating asshole jokes is simple, it's failing to join an activist organization that makes me class myself as tame. But that's beyond tame. It's permissive, and it's one big reason why there's so much discrimination.

(When they came for the Jews, I did not say anything, because I was not a Jew. When they came for the Blacks, I did not say anything, because I was not Black. When they came for the Muslims, I did not say anything, because I was not a Muslim. When they came for the gays, I did not say anything, because I was not gay. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me; they had all gone before.) (<---That's a paraphrase of a much more eloquent quotation.)

It's your fault, people!!!! All of you! All of us!

There again, though, many people (even some of them semi-friends--including Rumi) had a pretty tame reaction to the Physics 208 prelim cheating thing. "It doesn't affect your grade, so why do you care?" "I care about the principle--it doesn't bother you that ethics are not being upheld at all here?" "Well, why do you care? It doesn't affect your grade." etc.

I am falling asleep, but I have in my draft-list of things to include in this entry:
"satisfaction of doing math with lots of variables on clean unwrinkled lined paper with mechanical pencil" which I really think is pretty self-explanatory.

Paper batteries (check it out--they can be printed are cool. And I will probably write about the new winner-not-take-all electoral college fiasco currently underway in California.

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