Learning the Art of Being Offended
June 25, 2013 11:17 AM
by Jeff Byers
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I want to be one of the cool kids so I am taking a stand! Back in the day, sticks and stones could break your bones but words could not hurt you. But these days, words are wreaking havoc on people and their sensibilities must take priority over everything else.

Witness the whining on ESPN over the Washington Redskins' nickname. The anguish this is causing is truly heart-wrenching. And it is hard, if not impossible, to argue that the Redskins moniker is not at least partially responsible for the large outbreak of football fan on Native American violence we've seen in recent decades. I am fully on board. I, too, am offended!

I have a tremendous amount of Irish heritage and finally realize how hurt I’ve been all these years by the Fighting Irish nickname. And to think, I used to think there was no real reason behind my dislike of Notre Dame. But to imply, as their nickname does, that all Irish are fighting is to demean all of us with Irish heritage with the stereotype that we have fought so hard against.

I still think we as a civilized society that has grown should do away with all stereotypes. Please join us, even if you’re not of Irish heritage, in taking up the fight. Anybody who doesn't join us in the fight may just get a punch to the face if I get off this bar stool. If you're still not willing to join us in the cause, I plead with you to do it for the kids. Think of the Irish kids!

And Edinboro University needs to do away with the notion that all Scots are fighting as well. We have had fighters in many different nationalities over the years, yet we are okay with just the Irish and the Scots being singled out for their fighting in our college nicknames? Can you imagine if we had the New York University Fighting Iraqis? Or the Duquesne Fighting Greeks?

Yet we sit by and allow the Irish and Scots to be portrayed as nothing but fighters? It is indeed a sad statement on our current state of affairs when it comes to stereotyping on our college campuses. We need to fight back! And I know we can count on at least the Irish and Scots to do so.

Come to think of it, why are we promoting fighting on any of our college campuses? Please write and ask that the University of Illinois teams be referred to as simply the Illini or better yet, the Good Illini. Or best yet, simply the Good Humans. Then again, that would seem to promote humans over the other animals so let me give this some more thought.

My dream is that someday we’ll be able to watch a game between the Notre Dame Achieving Irish and the Edinboro Attractive Scots and see the results of these positive reinforcements pay off for generations to come.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but even my own high school was demeaning toward me. Talk about be-littling. I grew up my entire life wanting to be a Little Lion for State College. Do you realize what that does to the psyche - you never become a Big Lion, either.

You are a Little Lion for life. Why do we insist on crushing the delicate esteem of graduating classes year after year by making them feel small and insisting they can amount to nothing more than Little. Let the kids of State College grow to be Big, I beg of you! People, take a stand! Do it for the kids - the Little kids.

I also must confess to also using a derogatory term against an entire class of people when I was younger. I realize this may cost me my job, but I feel I must come to terms with my past. In 1978, when I was in the fourth grade, I called Mr. Schultz’s entire class “a stupid bunch of poopyheads.”

This was after an especially competitive game of dodge ball - yes, I grew up in the sick era when we would play games that rewarded kids’ competitive natures - in gym class.

In retrospect, they weren’t all stupid and I’m pretty sure I should not have categorized the entire class as poopyheads. I did grow from the experience and eventually dated one of the so-called poopyheads but still, I can’t deny the hurtful term was thrown around and, I might add, rather casually at the time.

Many in our school would use the term but that doesn't in any way justify it and I realize that now. I also should add, sadly and with remorse, that even years later, I went to a party dressed as a poopyhead with brown-face and everything. Of course, this was before iphones and facebook so no pictures were posted. What a mess that would have caused.

Even more recently, I’m ashamed to admit, I have told blonde jokes. I realize now, of course, just how wrong and hurtful those have been. To all of those beautiful blondes I have offended, I offer a sincere apology and hope to atone. And you can call me to find out what atone means. Just don’t tell the Fighting Redheads what you’re doing.

But I do ask that you call me. If nothing else, do it for the kids.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the authors expressed therein do not necessarily state or reflect those of StateCollege.com.