Thoughts on learning from bad behavior

Today I was witness to a conversation online (after someone posted the video where the mom yanks the kids out from behind the dad who is broadcasting from his home office) where Party A said something like “it just bugs me that people have to go and ruin the fun by getting upset and saying it was racist when some people thought she was the nanny.”
Party B explained (quite well, I thought) that the video is funny *and* the comments from people who automatically assumed “nanny” are problematic *and* it might be a good thing to consider listening when people raise issues like this rather than brushing it off as a joke, or whatever.
Person C (someone who often gets under my skin, I admit), posted that “reasonable people can tolerate problematic speech.”
Person D chimed in with “yeah, especially when they probably didn’t mean it as an insult.”

 

URGH.

When people raise issues like this, maybe consider just listening and trying to understand instead of just brushing it off or saying “it was just supposed to be funny.”

My response:
I think this is where the “reasonable” humans part comes in.  I don’t think that a lot of racist (or sexist or homophobic or (…) speech is *intended* to be insulting or hurtful (or illegal, for that matter).
But *intent* and *outcome* are different.  I guarantee you, I’ve never *meant* to get into any fender bender that I’ve gotten into.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m not responsible for the outcome of those fender benders (or wrecks), as I clearly am.  Can you imagine how this would turn out:
Nice person who I’ve just rear-ended:  “Um. You read-ended me!”
Me:  “Yeah, but I didn’t mean to, so you shouldn’t be upset.”
Nice person: “Well I am upset!”
Me:  “Well, it doesn’t *look* like your car is damaged, so let’s just go on our separate ways, ok?”
Nice person: “I know it doesn’t *look* like my car is damaged, but I felt the impact and I suspect there is damage, so I need to get your insurance info.”
Me: “*I* can’t see any damage, so there isn’t any damage, so I am not going to do that.”
And just like it’s reasonable to expect adults to take responsibility for the outcomes of their behavior, it’s also reasonable to expect adults to want to learn when they are causing harm — even if *they don’t see it* — so that they can avoid doing so in the future.
And, yes, one could argue that everyone should simply beef up their bumpers and expect to be hit every now and again and to not take everything so personally all the time…
…but do you really want to be the person who makes everyone else feel like they are in danger?
Think about that. As easy as it is to write off all of this concern as “political correctness,” the outcome of your behavior when you treat issues around (racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia [or]) as something that is *their problem* (because they’re weak, or take things the wrong way, or because you didn’t mean it that way, or because you were just repeating something someone else said, or because you thought it was funny [or]) rather than your mistake to be corrected and learned from, that’s exactly what you are doing.
You are making all those other folks feel like you can’t be trusted. That you don’t have their best interests at heart. That you would intentionally hurt them, even after having been told “hey – this hurts. Please stop.”
If you’re ok with that, then carry on.
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One thought on “Thoughts on learning from bad behavior

  1. Smiling big, Gina, reading here, all my mother’s and grandmother’s thread in the mix with mine…do be in touch, question off in another direction! LOVE you MISS you!

    Like

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