Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Focus groups

I need to explore a kind of a tricky subject today. It's this: Can I criticize a special interest group without being accused of anti [fill in the blank here]? That is, can I criticize a Spike Lee movie without being a racist? Can I criticize CAPSA (Citizens against physical and sexual abuse) without being against helping battered women?
That's the first general question. The second is like unto it: Can I criticize any group of which I am not a member? Can I criticize a Gay-rights group if I am not gay?
I remember reading once a book on blues music which strongly suggested that if a person was not African American he/she had no business talking about the blues, or even listening to it. Many of these groups (Not CAPSA, by the way; they are quietly working to help out) have a proprietary feeling toward being downtrodden that basically bothers me. Naturally, I don't mind a group being downtrodden. I don't even mind that they are trying to become uptrodden. Bravo. My dad started life on the wrong end of a shovel and ended up the director of O&M for a small city.
It's the sullen, overt signs of frustrated privelege that bother me. Groups hold endless, well-publicized, scantily-attended meetings and talk about being discriminated against (which is true), as if holding a meeting and talking about things will make people love them and see the intrinsic worth in each and every one.
Meanwhile, there are two men in Logan, Utah, who are quietly building wooden toys for children who don't even know what a toy is. No fanfare (I found out just by chance), but thousands of simple, well-made toy cars and trucks go to children who have no idea what it is to have to worry about being discriminated against. They worry about scurvy, diarrhea, starvation, and living to be six.
I don't see a quick way out. If one is part of a group that's being discriminated against, progress will come slowly, but it will come. That is, unless the group discriminated against is the stupid group, but they might well be in the majority.


bekkieann said...

I'd like to know more about the two men, the toys, and the children who receive them. It's a heartwarming story. We could use one of those right about now.

On both your houses said...

The story was in the Tuesday Logan Herald Journal. Apparantly, there are a number of such shops. The organization goes by the name of "Happy Toys," I think.