Maybe it’s Us…

Remember that episode of Top Gear where they go to America and paint messages on their cars designed to cause as much offense as possible? For the uninitiated, the show’s three presenters were given a challenge (forget the obviously scripted nature of the show for a moment): write messages on each other’s cars which would make the locals damage them as much as possible. The messages proved to be too successful – after being set upon by rednecks who apparently took issue with one of the cars’ messages in support of homosexuality, a local radio station had broadcast their cars’ registration plates as a target for attack, and the crew had to wipe the messages off their cars and get out of Alabama as quickly as possible. It’s one of the most well-known scenes in Top Gear history. I thought it was hilarious.

But what the first person said in the initial confrontation was quite interesting:

person [redneck]: “Now are y’all gay looking to see how long it takes to get beat’ up in a hick town?”

This is the sort of line we’d love to ignore – something that indicates more awareness than we’d prefer her to have. Indeed, I ignored it the first time I saw the scene – I was too busy laughing with vindictive glee at the homophobes who were now getting humiliated on international television. But what she said was, I think, very telling as to the true reason for her anger. Because I don’t think she was angry about support for gays (well … not entirely at least). I think she was angry about the fact that a bunch of people who obviously thought they were better than the locals came and assumed she would be homophobic, and that she was very obviously being made fun of. In short, she was being treated as a ‘hick’. And in that context, of course she’d be angry. Wouldn’t you be angry if people spoke to you with pre-conceived notions of how you behave and think – that is, if you were being stereotyped?

Which is why I don’t understand why everyone who opposes Trump, and I do mean pretty much every single one of us, seems to think there’s nothing wrong with belittling Trump supporters, and then have the face to wonder aloud about how he manages to get so much support.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I do not support Trump. I, like many left-leaning people around the world (I believe the right refers to us collectively as ‘lib-tards’), support Sanders, and truly believe he can make a massive positive impact on many of the issues facing America today. And if I were forced to choose between Clinton and Trump, I would choose Clinton in less time than it takes men’s rights activists to feel sorry for themselves when watching the Ghostbusters remake (which takes a unit of time so small it can only exist in a theoretical sense). In short, Trump is, in my opinion at least, bad.

But I can’t help but hesitate when I see yet another article talking about how stupid and ignorant Trump voters are. “I just don’t understand, surely people are better than this” say the smug moderates who continue typing very obviously false attempts at exasperation and benefits of doubt in an effort to look more balanced than they really are. Well, you know what? Maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re too busy typing out our ‘I’m not that right-wing’ insecurities to realise we’re the ones pushing Trump voters away. Doubtless, if Trump does win the presidency, these same people will gleefully type pretend-lamentations of how people are stupid and that society is doomed and that dictatorships are needed, or something. I doubt even blind cave-dwelling salamanders, cut off from the outside world millions of years ago, could be more isolated from reality than these netizens.

At the moment, Trump looks set to lead the Republicans to an abysmal loss. But if we continue treating anyone with a hint of anti-Clinton views as uneducated proletarians not worth listening to, this might change. Hey, at least the smuggers will feel more energised than ever before, right?

-Z

Grammar Nazism

“ur so fkin bad lmao”
-most games of Dota I play

Okay, I’ll admit, Dota (and I’m assuming many other online games) is probably the worst place to go if you’re looking for any semblance of proper sentence construction. But there’s no denying it – there’s a lot of bad grammar to be found on the internet. Is this a cause for concern?

Some certainly think so. In fact, there’s a whole subculture online about the importance, necessity, and even attractiveness, of good grammar. “I’m a sapiosexual!”, they declare, whilst furiously trawling through Wikipedia for rules dictating the use of oxford commas, right after they’ve written ‘encyclopedia’ (it’s ‘encyclopaedia’). They seem to show more dedication to good grammar than hating Americans and Tony Abbott. Which, for netizens, is saying something.

At this point, you can probably tell that I’m not a huge fan of them. But why should I care? It’s like if you knew a circle of ice users, right – who cares if they smoke it amongst themselves; they can do what they want, even if it makes them less intelligent and sneered upon by society. What right do I have to stop them?

bad-grammar

image taken from wordpress.com

Well I’ll tell you why. Ice users are comparatively harmless compared to grammar nazis – all they do is stab people occasionally. They don’t think of themselves as the superior minority. Grammar tyrants are far worse. Sometimes, I’m made to believe I might as well be stepping on ducklings with footy boots every time I make a typo. And then there are the passive-aggressive grammar nannies, who like and share grammar worship pictures, and obnoxiously comment with perfect grammar on your Facebook posts where you’ve sacrilegiously not bothered to capitalise at the start of your sentences, in a show of their superior education and breeding.

1514546_977100138975643_5524202208134298952_n

image taken from the ‘Grammarly’ Facebook page

But there’s something else, too. Something deeper. Some grammar führers find the sight of bad grammar repulsive. That’s bad. But others are worse. I’m starting to see, more and more, evidence that many members of this subculture honestly think they’re the only ones who understand grammar at all. They see themselves as some sort of fantastic last stronghold for True English, like the defenders at Mina Tirth, only without the action and excitement. And that is definitely, definitely wrong.

Think. Of all the things that could possibly give cause for snobbishness … grammar? Snobbishness in general is bad, but in this case there’s not even a basis for it. Grammar is literally taught to every single high school student. It’s universal. Having a good grasp of something everyone else has a good grasp of does not make you unique, let alone better. I might as well be proud of not being excited by cricket. It’s just that some people, like me, don’t bother with apostrophes and capital letters when typing on Facebook. That’s not inferior grammatical knowledge.

And there’s another thing that irks me, englishfrom the other direction. Many grammar marquis’ English skills are … bad. I’ve met people who could spot a wrong ‘your’ in Tolstoy within minutes but express surprise, resentment, and sometimes flat-out denial when I point out that they themselves have been incorrectly pronouncing ‘derby’ (pronounced ‘darby’). And here is where, I guess, I reveal my own ideological snobbishness. English is not just about good grammar. You could write a book with perfect use of ‘your’, apostrophes, ellipses, oxford commas, etc., but still have it read awfully. Grammar khans forget this fact in their quest for grammatical ‘perfection’. They are putting it above what I believe is the most important part of writing – making it easy and interesting for the reader.

But I realise these are just complaints. I’m not presenting an argument against them. Well, here it is. Remember ‘encyclopaedia’? Well, I lied; ‘encyclopedia’ is perfectly acceptable today. Why did this change happen? Because it’s easier to write it without the weird ‘ae’. And was this just another victim of the internet’s butchering of English? No. This occurred in 1989, well before the advent of the internet forum. And are we worse off because of it? No, we’re not; it’s clear to the reader and easier for the writer. Like it or not, English is changing, and has always been changing. Reading Shakespeare should make that quite clear. Grammar caliphs should keep that in mind before they go on their crusades (irony of words used noted). They’ve already added ‘omg’ to the Oxford Dictionary.

umad m8?

-Z