The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, August 27, 1997, Page 5, Image 5

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junior English and Greek
major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
Lately, I feel like I’m surround
ed by a wall of jerks.
A loud, annoying guy on my
right. A loud, annoying guy on my
I admit I’ve met a few women
who could give Rush Limbaugh
how-to-be-a-jerk lessons, but the
fact remains that most jerks are
men and a great deal of their self
esteem is based on their possession
of a dick. Regardless of who they
are, all jerks derive their obnoxious
quotient from the same source: the
Loud Male Voice.
The Loud Male Voice is another
variation of the many linguistic
privileges enjoyed by men in our
Shove macho aside
Women have the right to have their voices heard
society. It s encouraged in elemen
tary schools, where boys receive
more attention than girls. They
squirm and shout, while girls -
who’ve been taught to be quiet -
still are ignored. It’s why studies
show that in conversations, men
interrupt women at far greater rates
than women interrupt men. It’s why
you can address a group of women
and men as “Hey, guys.” I do it
myself, but that doesn’t make it
right. If you think the “Hey, guys”
habit is harmless, try addressing a
mixed group as “Hey, gals” and
watch the reaction.
How can you escape the domi
nance of the Loud Male Voice? You
can respectfully express your dis
agreement - and be ignored. You
see, a jerk’s idea of dialogue is akin
to Geraldo Rivera’s idea of journal
ism. Decibel level, not substance, is
what counts. It’s a mad rush for the
microphone and whoever can shout
the loudest wins. Score another vic
tory for the jerks.
Some believe that jerks should
be tolerated, that all opinions
deserve equal respect. So if a
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
student feels the need to display his
insecurity about his own sexuality
by coming to class with a homo
phobic slogan emblazoned across
his shirt, then I’m supposed to keep
my mouth shut and respect his right
to “free speech.”
Well, I’m sorry. Your right to
express your bigotry stops when it
interferes with my right to attend
class in a safe environment.
Likewise, the right of the Cleveland
“Indians” to crank out merchandise
adorned with racist caricatures
stops with the right of native peo
ples to live in this society without
being bombarded by images that
dehumanize their existence. The
right of creeps to stand on a corner
and croon, “Hey, baby,” while
scratching their crotches stops with
a woman’s right to walk to the gro
cery store at night without the con
stant fear of being raped or
Sure, this is more of the politi
cally correct stuff, and I’m actually
advocating it. When people insist
that language be used responsibly
and that abusive words be removed
from our schools and workplaces,
then the jerks accuse them of wield
ing “political correctness” to
squash free speech.
Now I can be as sanctimonious
about the First Amendment as any
American, but I’m surprised how
sentimental and loyal I feel toward
words penned by a bunch of privi
leged white guys 206 years ago. But
the Constitution doesn’t protect
unrestricted speech. “You can’t yell
‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” is one
rule of thumb credited to the former
Chief Justice Oliver Wendell
Holmes. In other words, you can’t
say whatever you feel like saying.
You can’t falsely claim that there’s a
fire in a crowded hall because in the
mad rush for the exits other people
will be trampled underfoot. Yet
jerks passionately defend their First
Amendment “right” to let hatred
drip from their lips and trample the
souls of their fellow human beings.
What the jerks are whining
about is mild compared to what
those of us living under the oppres
sions of sexism, homophobia, and
racism experience from members
of our society everyday. Our self
esteem and dignity have been
assaulted since the day we were
born and we have long been intimi
dated into silence.
If true free speech is to reign in
our society, every voice must be
given an equal chance to be heard.
The Loud Male Voice has to stop
hogging the microphone.
Lr/tiSCrCr HiAUSHIy IS a
senior news-editorial
major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
My sister has lead in her shoulder.
It isn’t from a bullet, but the sharp
ened end of a pencil.
I put it there.
One day, back when I was a little
tyke, my older sister was picking on
me. We were riding in the family car, I
was in the back seat. Well, she called
me a little dork, and since I had no
idea what “dork” meant, I assumed it
was something really bad. My pulse
quickened, my fists clenched, that was
enough. Whatever a “dork” was, I
surely wasn’t one. I knew retaliation
was my best course of action. She
turned around and I took advantage of
the situation, deciding it would be a
good idea to see how far I could slam
a pencil into her back. Turns out that
was about half an inch, but that’s
beside the point. It was easily the most
carnal act of my preschool years and
to this day I don’t know what pos
sessed me to do it. But what I’ll never
forget about the whole stabbing inci
dent is what I told my mother as she
frantically asked me why I had
maimed my sister.
“It wasn’t my fault,” I said.
“Whose was it?” she asked.
Uh-huh. Sure it was. I was young.
I was stupid. I was wrong.
The stabbing was entirely my fault
and I was simply trying to formulate
an excuse in the recesses of my 5
year-old brain. Pretty pathetic
attempt, I know. But when you com
pare that excuse to some of the blame
shifting present in society today, it
doesn’t seem that unreasonable.
It’s becoming more evident when
you look closely at our culture, that
the blaming game is becoming a
national pastime. Taking responsibili
ty for our actions has disappeared
faster than you can spill hot coffee on
yourself and sue the restaurant that
sold it to you.
It’s not limited to a few instances,
though. Run an experiment for your
self this week. As you go about your
business for the next few days, take
some time and listen to conversations.
Blame it on the rain
Take responsibility for your actions
Keep your ears open for people talk
ing about something that wasn’t their
fault. While you’re at it, check your
own conversations. Do you hear
things like: It’s the professor’s fault
that someone didn’t get assigned read
ing finished. It’s the roommate’s fault
someone didn’t get to study last night.
It’s the parent’s fault that someone
didn’t have enough cash to buy books.
Odds are strong that you’ll hear, or
even say, some of these exact state- x
ments. /
All around us, people blame f|
the closest possible scapegoat for
their own lack of responsi
bility. An attitude that blames
others and complains at the
slightest hint of adversity is at ^
its very core an attitude of self- ^
ishness. When you blame someone
else for your own mistakes, ’S
you are blinded by pride into ’
thinking you couldn’t be the
one at fault.
Of course there are times
when we really aren’t at fault,
but the blame disease has infect
ed us so much that personal
responsibility has been
somehow lost along the way. y %.
With the right lawyer, I
could probably win about
$500,000 off my sister today. She
should have known that picking %
on me could have resulted in a %
near fatal injury. Her antago- L
nism caused me to grow up Ji|
misguided with a deep sense of RR,
being unloved. It really was JHj
her fault!
But, back in reality, the S
dark gray-colored scar gSi
remains in my sister’s shoul- jB
der and I know the truth: It
was my fault. I still struggle iR
to take responsibility in my J|^Hpi
life. But I refuse to be forced
by circumstances into blaming oth
ers for my own mistakes. It’s a A
choice that I made. W
To hear people blaming A
roommates for a lack of study Jp
time is a small example, true.
But blame in the little aspects A
of your life quickly turns into Am
blame in all aspects of your
life. In the few years you
spend in college, you don’t
just gain knowledge and mar- m
ketable skills and make lifelong &
friends, you determine what
kind of a man or woman you j
will be for the rest of your life. The
patterns inculcated into your minds
now will dictate
the actions you
take in the
S o
responsibility will you take for your
own actions? You’re the only person
who can respond to that question.
And you can’t blame the
result on anyone but
Matt Haney/DN