Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Not Special Day?

 Walt Disney Japan's corporate Twitter account posted a picture of Alice from the animated movie "Alice in Wonderland" and a line from one of the movie's songs in English: "A very merry unbirthday to you."

In Japanese, this translates roughly to "congratulations on a not special day."

This Tweet was made on Sunday, August 9th which was the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

Ouch. Disney Japan apologized for the screw up.  But it does seem to be a "not special day" when someone somewhere says something that is totally tone deaf, insensitive or outright offensive. It happens on a regular basis. 

What is the difference between political correctness and just plain being  respectful to one another? Recently, Presidential candidate *giggle!* Donald Trump has labeled the reactions against some of his more boorish statements as political correctness. You know, people being too sensitive and restrictive, that sort of thing. 

The same defense was put up in the face of backlash against the Confederate flag being flown on state government grounds. "The flag is a symbol of Southern heritage and reaction to it as a racist symbol is just political correctness out of control," so the argument went.  

The term political correctness gets tossed out whenever someone thinks we're twisting ourselves in knots to avoid offending someone. And sometimes PC behavior seems to be running amok. But if it does seem like we're contorting ourselves uncomfortably, it's because we're forced to do something that we're quite frankly not used to doing: seeing life from another point of view other than our own. That is admittedly not an always easy thing to do. After all, our main perspective is what we see of the world from inside our own skulls. 

A chief lesson one can learn from public speakers and stand up comedians is "know your audience". Seek to understand or empathize with how they are going to perceive what you say. And if you think that if someone said that to you, it would hurt or offend, maybe you should reconsider. In other words, think before you speak. 

Or tweet "merry unbirthday" in Japanese on the anniversary of a nuclear bomb attack. 

NOTE: Click here for the write up on a woman who survived the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima 3 days before. It's a pretty harrowing account and one that should make us all never forget the real pain, the real consequence of nuclear weaponry unleashed. 

Be good one another.   

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