As many readers have noticed, I've written a lot about bullying and teasing over the last few days. This is part and parcel of blogging about my life as it happens. And, as it happens, I did a string of workshops over a four day period in which part of every day was devoted to the daily experience of social violence that people with intellectual disabilities experience. Listening to stories as told by people with disabilities, by parents and by professionals was draining. I am honoured to hear 'truth' told. But the truth about 'truth' is that it does not always set you free - 'truth' can make demands, 'truth' can be a harsh task master, 'truth' can demand responsibility.
So, we arrived in Ottawa on a Saturday afternoon after driving almost 1000 kilometers. We were both tired. It had been planned that we'd have pizza with Mike and family but all were sick or recovering and the meeting was put off to the next day. We went out to get some fresh air and ended up in a bookstore, we picked up a couple books and then went for tea. The place was packed. We turned to leave. I was disheartened, I wanted the tea, I wanted to be out amongst people, I wanted somehow to come to believe again in the goodness of the human heart. Two women noticed us turn to go and called to us to share their table. They got up and moved over, clearing a place for us. We nodded our thanks, they smiled back. They resumed their conversation, we chatted about books about tea and just enjoyed. On our way out I thanked them for making my day brighter. They blushed, both of them, but I meant what I said and they knew it.
That evening we turned on the television, flipped around and marvelled at all the stations. At home we get basic cable (why flip through 200 stations to find nothing on, when you can do the same thing 10 times with 20?) so we kept flicking and flicking and flicking. Finally we settled on a movie that would be kindly called a 'low brow' comedy. Perfect for our mood. We'd seen it years ago and enjoyed it then. It was on a station called 'MUCH' which I think is a station aimed at youngish people. Forgive me for being old and no longer caring much about the exactness of the flood of media options. Anyways the movie was laced with 'blue' language and therefore was often 'bleeped'.
Then something wonderful happened.
Suddenly I remembered that the movie had a particularly vile use of the 'r' word. I remembered just before the character came to say the word. The remote was out of reach so I braced myself. But I didn't have to. The word was 'bleeped'. Like all the other obscenities and 'adult' language, it didn't air. Joe spoke first, 'My (bleep) they (bleep)ing bleeped the word.'
People in the next room probably wondered at the cheering coming through the walls. For the first time ever in my experience the word was treated as it should be ... inappropriate and unacceptable ... and it was gone. I know I'm going to get yada yada about censorship but I don't care. I hate hate speech and I'm OK with it being gone.
I don't know if this is a policy at MUCH or if the person in charge of the bleep button was acting on personal convictions. I'm not sure that right now I care.
All I care about is that for the rest of the movie, I sat back and relaxed. I could laugh without fear that the humour would turn mean. That means something.