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snow falls in hell, pigs fly and rosie o’donnell apologises for racism!

March 24th, 2007     by Thea Lim     Comments

If you’re unlucky, you remember Rosie O’Donnell’s horrifying impersonation of a Chinese newscaster last December. She said “Ching chong ching chong!” and some other rubbish, and the audience laughed it up. (Incidentally, some of my first and strongest memories of elementary school involve other kids saying “ching chong ching chong” to me. So essentially Rosie O’Donnell has the same level of sensitivity as the playground 6 year-olds who felt it necessary to point out how I was different).

(Seriously, read on past the “more” prompt below. There’s another youtube video following that is FANTASTIC.)

I essentially have given up on suggesting that people find different and less hurtful language, whenever they use terms that make my stomach turn. Usually I get the response that I am offended by everything and should lighten up. Or I need to stop being so politically correct. I have to say that the term “political correctness” confuses me, despite my fancy degree in political science. I’m not asking people to be politically correct. I’m asking people to be nice to each other, goshdarnit. How is that unreasonable?

Another, even worse, response I get sometimes is that the person that I’m talking to gets defensive or upset or cries. This is a strange and sometimes bizarre situation to be in: what do you do when your suggestion that someone has hurt your feelings hurts their feelings? You wind up trying to comfort or appease somebody who, moments ago, made you feel small, isolated and sick.

The idea that our everyday language has hatefulness embedded in it often upsets people so much that, ironically, they can’t bring themselves to use different words.

But American slam poet Beau Sia, undefeated by this conundrum, has posted this “open letter to the rosie o’donnells of the world” on youtube.

My favourite part is how he says people don’t have to get defensive if they use words that hurt other people, because everyone makes mistakes, and there’s always room for forgiveness.

Stunningly, it worked. A month ago Rosie O’Donnell posted a shockingly heartfelt (albeit txt msg style) apology on her blog. So heartfelt that I had to read it over a few times and check out the rest of the page to make sure it wasn’t fabricated or a hallucination. It included the following:

“i apologize for any and all pain caused to any and all by my comments ignorance lack of compassion - empathy understanding

u r right i didnt get it

i know my intent was not to harm yet obviously i did”

Holy cow. I have to admit, I now have something of a Beau Sia crush.

Tags: media savvy, news flash, race and racism

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