There are two figures of speech that really put the wind up my skirt. The first is “boys will be boys.”
Parents have been saying this since the invention of dirt to excuse away the behavior of little boys. You never hear anyone exclaim that girls will be girls. That is because little girls are punished for their bad behavior from a very early age. So why do we encourage little boys by ignoring their bad behavior when we know that providing a consequence for undesirable actions works? By excusing boys their bad behavior all we are doing is creating grown men who exhibit the same bad behavior, whether it’s fraternity hazing, racism or sexism. Unless bad behavior is nipped in the bud and not excused away we continue to perpetuate the idea that boys will be boys and that men will never change.
The second figure of speech that (as Peter Griffin would say) grinds my gears is “consider the source.”
This is something adults say when they are sick and tired of hearing ignorant and hateful things from ignorant and hateful people. Unfortunately, like ‘boys will be boys’, ‘consider the source’ only serves to excuse away the words and actions of racists, sexists, fear and hate mongers.
Unless we actually make people take responsibility for their words and actions, we are doomed to have to listen to hate speech. Ignoring the problem will not make it simply go away.
Recently the web site, http://jezebel.com/ took to task some teenagers that had posted horribly racist tweets (that I will not re-print here… they do not need to be rewarded with more publicity) in the wake of President Obama’s re-election. They alerted the schools, parents and employers of the teens who posted these offensive statements and actually got results. In some cases the schools suspended or even expelled the teens. In some cases their employers fired the teens. In almost all cases the offending twitter accounts were deleted. Now I do realize that this doesn’t stop these kids from thinking racist thoughts (racism is usually taught by parents or other authority figures), but it will certainly make them think twice before committing racist actions if they know that there are consequences for those actions.
Laziness, exasperation and excuses will not create the kind of world in which we want to live, or the kind of child we would be proud to send into that world.