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December 10, 2009

The implications of Kick a Ginger and Kick a Jew days

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/the_implications_of_kick_a_ginger_and_kick_a_jew_days_20091209/

In last week’s Jewish Journal, The Marty Kaplan had a follow up to Florida’s Kick a Jew Day and Calabasas’ Kick a Ginger Day. He was also one of the only journalists who I saw accurately draw upon the relevance of “South Park’s” “Ginger Kids” episode.

See, unlike as many outlets reported, South Park Elementary is free of its own Kick a Ginger Day in that episode from season 11; however, Cartman first incites hatred against Gingers and then lead’s a Red Power movement when Kyle and Stan make him think he’s a ginger.

Now that I’ve said that, and embedded the clip above, I offer this excerpt from Kaplan’s column. Clearly, he’s worried that Kick a Liberal Day can’t be far behind. In fact, that was in his lede:

So whose fault was it?

“South Park”?  I don’t think so.  Some studies say that violence in media begets violence in kids, but anyone who’s watched more than ten minutes of that show knows it’s no more dangerous than “All in the Family.”

Is it Facebook’s fault?  Spokesman Barry Schnitt says hate speech violates Facebook’s terms of service; the network relies on users to report problems to Facebook.  No one reported “Kick a Ginger Day.”  When you have 300 million users, like when you have 300 million Americans, stupid things inevitably get said—some of them meant to be funny, some of them malicious and pretending to be funny.  It would be easy to ban both.  In a democracy, though, it’s harder, but necessary, to figure out how to tell the difference between them.

Is it the fault of the kid who posted the “Kick a Ginger Day” page?  I can believe it was done in the same subversive spirit as the “South Park” episode:  outrageous, to be sure, but not remotely intended to be taken literally.  You may not like the scabrous place where pop culture is today, but you can’t pretend that context doesn’t exist.

Is it the fault of the kids who did the kicking?  Absolutely.  Above the age of four or so, “I jumped off the Empire State Building because he did it first” just isn’t a credible defense.

Is it the fault of the parents of the kids who did the kicking?  Yes.  And also the fault of any of us insufficiently freaked out by the debased discourse and corrosive politics of our times. 

“These are not new issues for us here in Naples,” said Rabbi James Perman of Temple Shalom in North Naples.  “These 10 kids did not invent anti-Semitism.  They found a sympathetic response that was already there on some level.”

America’s airwaves are crackling with demagogues demonizing Democrats, liberals, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and anyone else who gets on the wrong side of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the other bully boys making money off of hate speech.  Beck says he’s just a “rodeo clown.”  Limbaugh, says Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, is just “an entertainer.”  That’s why the ugly, incendiary stuff they’re spewing isn’t supposed to scare us.

Unfortunately, there are people listening to these loons whose moral development never make it north of middle school, and who don’t think that Obama-hates-white-people and liberals-hate-America are jokes, unless you mean “punch line” literally.

Read the rest here.

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