5 People You’ll Meet In Hell

hell fireI don’t necessarily believe in Hell, but here are 5 people who are going to be there long before people like me ever arrive.

1 — The person at the Fast Food line who acts as if they’ve never been in that situation before.

These are the ones who stand at the counter and stare at the huge neon menu as if is it’s written in Latin.  Hey! The big difference between the #5 Hamburger Combo and the #6 Cheeseburger Meal is cheese — just cheese — and it’s been that way since 1972.  Besides, at some point, you decided to come here, you got in your car, you drove all the way, you stood in line for ten minutes and you still haven’t figured out what you want to eat?  You deserve to burn in Hell for wasting my time.

2 — Anyone who litters

People who throw their trash on the ground should be horse-whipped in this life and suffer the Fires of Hell for the rest of Eternity — twice.

3 — The parents who bring their bratty children to the theatre, the ballet or the gourmet restaurant.

I’ve got nothing against kids, but  if yours have the social graces of an exuberant orangutan, don’t  bring them to places where adults gather.  Little Braydon spitting up carrots and going for  distance might be YouTube cute at home, but my wife and I didn’t sign on for her antics added to the ambiance of our dinner, likewise, nothing ruins the enchanting beauty of a dying swan more completely than some pint-size savage three rows over suddenly howling for juice.  Your children might be the centre of your universe, but if you’ve decided not to teach them manners, you’re not doing them or the rest of the world any favours — and you’re going to Hell because of it.

4 — Accountants, computer geeks, tow-truck drivers and dentists.

These are the people with specialized skills or knowledge who take advantage of the rest of us just because they can — and then act all smug about it.  It’s a tooth for God’s sake — not the Crown Jewels. Nothing legal costs that much!  And, BTW, fat boy in the truck, my car broke down; I didn’t shoot it in the head.  The difference between Mafia extortion and what these folks do is minimal — and they’re going to have to answer for it.

And finally

5 — The people who are always getting offended.

These are the folks who are not so much easily offended as eagerly offended.  They wake up in the morning pissed off with the world and then spend the rest of the day trying to make everybody else just as miserable as they are.  There’s no satisfying these malicious bastards, and for that, they are clearly entitled to all the grief Satan has to offer.

Social Media: The Teenage Years

stephen fryIn the face of a midwinter morning, it would be so-o-o-o easy to be bitchy.  It’s cloudy without the threat of mystic rain, chilly without being snuggly cold; the light’s all wrong and Stephen Fry has quit Twitter — again.  Fry is the most recent casualty in the War On Humour.  He made a joke at the Baftas and the Eagerly Offended from Social Media were on him like ugly on an ape.  (No offence, apes!)  Anyway, Fry has gone home to lick his wounds, or whatever else takes his fancy, saying, “too many people have peed in the pool” an apt description of Social Media: The Teenage Years.

Everybody knows the Internet has been around since Al Gore invented it back before Bill Clinton taught the world the value of sexual semantics. (See what bitchy looks like?)  However, most people don’t realize that Social Media is barely a dozen years old.  It isn’t even close to the Age of Consent.  In fact, if Social Media were a person, the things we do with it would get us all arrested.  I’ll just let that one sink in for a minute.

My point is Social Media is still an adolescent.  We all have high hopes that it will become that great intellectual and philosophical adult forum which will connect us to the ideas of the world, but … at this point, it’s still just one giant middle school.  It’s a place where we hang with the people who most reinforce our image of the world.  A place where the unfamiliar is viewed with caution, even suspicion — and sometimes anger.  It’s a place where the questions are painted with broad strokes so the answers can be straightforward.  But, beyond all that, like middle school, Social Media is a place where we’re all desperately, desperately trying to fit in and be cool.  In fact, when Glamour editor Jo Elvin took Fry to task, her exact words were “Uncool of Stephen Fry to say bafta winning costume designer dressed like a ‘bag lady’ I was thinking it was cool she wore what she wanted.”  And that’s what it all comes down to: who’s cool and who isn’t.

Cool is a teenage life choice and “I’m more sensitive than you” is a teenage social tactic.  Clearly, Social Media has a lot of growing up to do.  But Stephen Fry said it better, calling Social Media: “A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended — worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.”

Sounds like he doesn’t like the Cool Kids, either.  Get ’em Stephen!

God, it would be so-o-o-o easy to be offended on behalf of Stephen Fry today.  It’s a good thing I’m an adult and don’t go in for that sort of thing.

Just Because You’re Offended Doesn’t Mean You’re Right!

offended9Just a few more words about the Eagerly Offended and then I’ll shut up about them…for a while.

There’s a guy in Saskatoon, Canada, Ashu Solo, who has been offended.  He believes that he was made to feel like a “second class citizen” and “excluded” at a public gathering.  Apparently this grievous harm happened when Saskatoon city councillor, Randy Donauer, said a prayer (popularly called “grace) before a public meal for civic volunteers.  Solo maintains that Canada is a secular nation, and, therefore, there should be no public religious observances — they are obviously offensive to the non-believer.  Unwilling to tolerate this level of disrespect, Solo is taking action.  He wants to remedy the situation by fiat and remove prayer from public meals entirely, thus saving himself and all other unspecified offendees from having to endure this unbearable situation.

Ashu Solo is no stranger to being offended.  Last December, even though he admits to not seeing them himself, he was offended on behalf of others when several buses in Saskatoon displayed “Merry Christmas” messages.  At the time, Solo’s argument against “Merry Christmas” was similar to his case against grace: Canada is a secular nation, and, therefore, should not have religious messages displayed on public transportation.  It should be noted that Mr. Solo was not offended by the “Go, Riders, Go!” message, also displayed on many buses — even though it is common knowledge that ‘Riders’ football represents the dominant religion in Saskatchewan.

Regardless, since being offended is the #1 pastime in Canada, Mr. Solo has every right to participate.  However, he should have aoffended5 working knowledge of the game before he decides to play.  Unfortunately, his anti-Christian argument has two rather large Swiss cheese holes in it.

First of all, Canada is not a secular nation.  There has never been any legal provision or precedent that says so, anywhere in our history.  In fact, the first line of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms clearly states that “…Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God…”  Hardly the statement of a nation “not concerned with religious or spiritual matters,” is it?  Actually, the separation of church and state is an American concept (much like freedom of speech or the right to bear arms.)  This is a common mistake, made by many Canadians.  It comes from watching too much American TV.

Secondly, there is a major difference between Freedom of Religion, as guaranteed by the Charter, Section 2 (a) and Freedom from Religion which again has no legal provision or precedent anywhere in our history.  These two distinct concepts are also easily confused.  It comes from not paying attention in school when the lesson on the use and abuse of prepositions came up in grammar.  To clarify: in Canada, you have the right to put your faith in whatever you want, including Jesus, your neighbour’s cat, American legal nuances or nothing at all, if you so desire.  That right is guaranteed.  However, you are not protected from the religions which are happening all around you.  You have no legal right to arbitrarily stifle their observances, regardless of how offensive you believe they are to you.  In fact, attempting to quash any religious observance — including the Christian practice of saying grace — could be considered a crime given the way the Charter is written.

As “Eagerly Offended” goes, Ashu Solo is hardly in the top echelon.  However, he does demonstrate that being Eagerly Offended is clearly more an art than a science.  Without logical or cohesive arguments, it relies mainly on Western Guilt and usually targets Eurocentric practices and institutions.  For example, I doubt very much if Mr. Solo is offended by Sumo wrestling (even though it is closely associated with the Shinto religion) or Kung Fu (as practiced by Shaolin monks.) Nor would he campaign long and hard to ban either one.  To be blunt, there simply isn’t any percentage in it.  No, the key to success for the Eagerly Offended is to carefully choose a soft quarry, and by selecting a city government (large enough for media attention but small enough to have limited resources) as the offending body, Ashu Solo has made a very wise decision, indeed.