“The Austin Parks Foundation is canceling tonight’s (Wed, 5/25) showing of Napoleon Dynamite at Republic Square. A new movie will be shown next month. A number of people contacted us objecting to a word used by actors in the movie. We didn’t recall that this word was used and we did not mean to offend anyone. Our apologies for this as well as for the last minute cancellation.”
The PG movie, you see, about a maladroit teen, upset advocates and defenders of the mentally challenged, or whatever code words are deemed politically correct these days–I haven’t checked my “Offense-O-Meter” in the last couple days—because one of the characters uses the word “retarded” exactly once…not to describe someone who is actually laboring with a disability, mind you, but to insult his friend, as teenagers are wont to due, and as they were especially wont to do in the Eighties, when “retarded” was used the way my generation used “spaz.” In other words, there was no justification whatsoever for either the complaint or the movie’s cancellation.
As usual, an advocacy group, inflated by the rationalization of “The Saint’s Excuse” (the self-righteousness of those convinced they are right and good, and can ignore such ethical values as consideration for others and fairness because their virtuous ends justify their unethical means) set out to get cheap publicity and show their power by bullying lily-livered, conflict-averse officials into doing their bidding. This was essentially what Damon Fowler did to his graduation, but at least he could claim to be upholding a Constitutional principle, and at least he had to be in the audience for the prayer he blocked, giving him standing to object. The word-police in the disabilities community had no such excuses. They used their muscle to stop others from enjoying a film in the park, because they objected to one word in the movie, even though they didn’t have to hear it.
I am trying to imagine: what movie doesn’t have some word or element that an advocacy group could object to with similar justification? There’s violence in “The Longest Day,” and animals talking is demonic, so that knocks out Disney movies. “Casablanca” celebrates adultery, and the black piano-player is a racist portrayal. Fred Astaire does a blackface act in “Top Hat,” and “White Christmas,” “Miracle of 34th Street,” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” have a religious subtext. “Animal House,” is politically correct, of course, and “Bringing Up Baby” upsets PETA, because they used that leopard. Between PETA (all those abused horses!), the anti-gun crowd, and Native American activists, Westerns are out. “West Side Story” denigrates Hispanics; “The King and I” stereotypes Asians, and “Oklahoma!”….well, that just glorifies the theft of Indian territory by those evil white settlers. Anything with magic offends the fundamentalists—witchcraft, you know…so there goes “Harry Potter,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Jumanji,” and “Peter Pan.” Science fiction? The Bible doesn’t talk about God making other sentient beings. Offensive! Inappropriate for the park!
“We want to make sure everybody was feeling comfortable,” Foundation Executive Director Charlie McCabe said. Really, Mr. McCabe? Well, you know, everyone can’t be comfortable, you coward. Are the Austin citizens who planned to have a nice evening watching a comedy under the stars “comfortable” as a result of your unconscionable capitulation to political-correctness thugs? Your foundation’s actions encourage more tyranny of the hyper-sensitive, the single-issue fanatics, and the artistic expression-phobic. What your Foundation should have done was to let these silly, humorless, proportion-challenged censorship fans protest and make certain public anger is focused where it belongs: on them. They are by nature undemocratic, and they don’t care whose enjoyment they spoil in their pursuit of mind-cleansing through linguistic control. They want to ban words so it is impossible to think them.
Their logic and understanding of ethics is, to say the least, retarded.
This is the kind of bullying I fear Damon Fowler will graduate to perpetuate, thanks to the accolades he is receiving for striking his mighty blow against the evil of prayer….except that he’s probably a fan of “Napoleon Dynamite.”