In Defense of Justin Bieber7:22 AM
Since earlier we talked about subjects that unknowingly offend, I thought I'd share one of my biggest irritants: I hate it when people say Justin Bieber sings like a girl. Not because he doesn't. He does. And not because I love Justin Bieber's music. I haven't listened to much of it, truthfully. It's because it's such a mean thing to say about something he cannot change.
The cold, hard truth: boys sing like girls until their voice cracks.
Why this offends me so much? People used to make fun of my brother because he "sang like a girl." They teased him about it until he was afraid to let out his gorgeous voice. It required extra big sister pep talks. It made him self-conscious.
All because a group of girls thought to have a little fun at his expense.
The worst thing was that I used to laugh along to that overdone joke and take my own jabs at his music and style, as if he were a celebrity cardboard cutout instead of a human being. The thought of applying the Golden Rule never crossed my mind. It was Justin Bieber, for Pete's sake -- it was a joke, it was sarcasm, it was showing off my dazzling wit. But when it became personal -- it wasn't very funny anymore.
Nobody means to be cruel. I doubt anybody would mock Justin Bieber to his face. We're nice people; we're kind people; we're sensitive people (generally). We've merely worked ourselves into the rut of habit, that's all, so deep down that we don't even recognize our insensitivity and rudeness.
Our entire American culture has that problem. Anything is appropriate so long as it's "just a joke" or labeled under the hallowed category of "sarcasm." And any poor fellow who dares speak up about using more subdued wordage wins the title of Tone Police and is told that Paul used sarcasm. Ha!
As if we're all inspired by God to attack Justin Bieber.
This common sense application of kindness will never become popular, I think. It's too much of a habit -- and we're blind to it. It stings us deeply when another objects to our form of fun -- especially when he drags out that Golden Rule and gets all "gracious" and "loving." We call the Tone Police wet blankets, puritans, stiff, humorless. We never listen when they say that making fun of Joel Osteen isn't really profitable or right. We shrug our shoulders when someone cuts in on our rude remarks about Taylor Swift. We boil with hurt when our friend doesn't get just as disgusted at that annoying girl we gossiped about. "Holier than thou," we mutter, as she sweetly suggests a more plausible, less derogatory explanation for her behavior.
But oh, how quick we are to strike humorlessly when we're the butt of the joke!
I once read some extremely rude, inflammatory and untruthful things about me and my family. It hurt me in a way no human being should ever have to hurt and really exposed my naivete about the lie of Human Goodness. What first struck me was how much I had been hurt -- what struck me harder was how much I had hurt. How many people had I gossiped about in the privacy of my home? How many politicians, pastors and poets had I mocked under cover of sarcasm? How many Walmart shoppers had I picked apart? How many jokes had I made that would have deeply wounded the person in question had he been standing before me?
That's over-spiritualizing things, Bailey, I soothed myself. It's just a joke.
But wasn't a joke to see myself slandered and laughed at and not a single word in my defense. It wasn't a joke to cry for days on end. It wasn't a joke to overcome paranoia to write even a private essay. I would never wish anyone to go through the feelings I did, force him to work through the anger and hatred toward cruel people, to hold his head up again and move on.
I tremble to think how my daily conversations would abuse the soul of someone else. I do not want to be present when every word I've said is taken into account on judgment day. I do not want to know my motives or see how reekingly proud my ugly heart is.
I cannot rightly fault another person for offending me when every other word of mine laughs at another's weakness. What makes me more special than Justin Bieber or the annoying girl or even the people who have hurt me? We wouldn't say such rude things in front of them. We wouldn't say rude things about ourselves.
Why does slander and unkindness become part of polite society -- a requirement, almost -- when spoken behind the person's back? It's as ridiculous as saying theft, murder and lying isn't a sin unless one is caught.