Archive | June, 2014

Germany, get a grip.

17 Jun

There is a very specific and simple reason why I am not interested in benefiting from my German citizenship and returning to the country I partially grew up in. While life may be cheaper and easier than it is in Israel, the German mentality is one I profoundly abhorr. Of course, a disclaimer of “But I know not all Germans are like that” goes here, and then the pin that bursts the bubble: exceptions confirm the rule. The widespread mentality of Germans is what made the Nazis possible.

There, I said it.

Did you know that in Germany, you can get sued and pay high fines for flipping someone off? That you can even go to prison for a short time for saying something like – gasp – “asshole” or “wanker”? I hear that you can be fined as much as 700 Euros for flipping someone off in traffic.
What I’m saying is, that Germany’s obsession with politeness and political correctness is not only ridiculous, but tragic because when was the censorship of free speech at its peak in Germany? 1933 to 1945. And remnants are still clung to in modern German society. Clung to for dear life.

Germans claim that they – and their country – are tolerant and open-minded. However, it is typically German to complain about an incorrectly/illegally parked… bicycle. It is typically German to feel bothered for the sake of feeling bothered, because the object of the bother “should” bother you. Even if, upon second thought, it does not because it could not possibly. Eyes roll, noses exhale exhaustedly, when someone just talks loudly on the subway. What’s it to you?
The truth is that Germany’s obsessively squealing “We’re tolerant!” suggests that this is a symptom of denial. How likely are you to see a slim woman going around crying out, “I’m not fat!” as opposed to a fat woman? Which black person is less likely to be offended when you say “Nigger”, the one who scoffs, shrugs, and moves on, or the one who, in a high-pitched voice, keeps reassuring you that he is not offended? Now who’s more likely to run around screeching “I AM TOLERANT!!” – the one who truly is tolerant and hence, tolerates their situation rather than crying out, or the one who only wishes he were (perceived as) tolerant?

Yeah, thought so.

Germany is not like flyover states in america, where millions of children die from the horrible disease known as “Potty Mouth” each year. Potty Mouth is an infectious disease where a “dirty word” is picked up by the child and starts poisoning the child’s brain. If the child utters the word or or more so-called dirty words are heard by the child, the child’s brain will slowly and painfully turn spongiformous and the child’s skull will explode due to the subcranial swelling having nowhere to escape to. This is also why american mothers tend to get extremely aggressive and hysterical when they see words such as “shit”, “fuck”, or “cunt” – or wose, “penis” – on Internet platforms such as Facebook and deviantART. Let us not dwell on the fact that a child below the age of 13 has no business being on or reading either site.
However, Germans are not that prone to “Potty Mouth”. Swearing in German can actually be quite the experience, only topped by Hebrew sweet-talk in its brutality. My, those consonants; you could sand a factory worth of pallets with those consonants integrated in those swear words. “Verdammte Scheiße, du dreckiger Hurensohn; ich schlag dir die Fresse ein!”.

Now, let’s get serious again. No, dear american mothers, your children will not be harmed by exposure to dirty words. Relax and stop telling the world to raise and babysit your spawn for you. Thank you.
Back to business. Germany’s desire for politeness and political correctness is adorable, errr I mean, admirable. Those words, don’t they look just the same! However, the degree to which Germany enforces this, does not strike me as sane or reasonable. German law and law enforcement, as well as German online community administrators who are held legally liable for member content published on their platforms, act like kindergarten teachers, constantly reprimanding and punishing people for slips of the tongue that are deemed offensive.
I appreciate there is a legal limit to what you can say in Germany as Germany takes hate speech and incitement especially seriously, as well as slander or libel. This is a good thing. We do not need people flocking to the streets chanting “Death to (whomever)”. We do not need people getting away with destroying someone’s livelihood by speaking ill of them.
But beyond that, impersonal insults being policed by law enforcement is deeply disturbing. Why is the German assumed to be incapable of coping with being called an asshole or being given the finger? How can the German take solace in the fact that he can have a subpoena sent to their neighbor for saying “Kiss my ass”? The nature of law is rooted in the mentality of the people. This is why different countries have different laws and moral standards.

In Germany’s case, the tolerance that is so proudly paraded around, is only skin-deep. The truth is that Germans would still rather not be confronted with overt Jews, because, trigger! I guess Jews in Germany should wear “Trigger Warning!” on their shirts. Blacks, well, they get the whole inclusiveness pity party. “Look, we embrace a black person in our midst!”. It does not really NOT matter that a person in Germany is black, Muslim, or gay. Germans tend to “accept” you “in spite of” what you are. They tend to think they are being progressive and un-Nazi by feeling and spreading the feel of, an obligation to tolerate. They squeal hysterically at the slightest hint of racism, homophobia, islamophobia, or antisemitism, but not protectively so much as dutifully. And that’s infantile. It’s like the snitch in elementary school running to the teacher to report Susan saying a bad word.

Expressing tolerance and politeness as an obligation rather than a conviction, isn’t only disingenuous, it is dangerous. A pointless obligation that earns you nothing other than skin-deep approval from people whose opinion needn’t concern you, sounds like a heavy weight to bear.
And dear Germans hysterically shivering in a corner every time rightwings flap, by censoring and outlawing them you are making them stronger. Does it really matter what political movement outlaws what party? And does silencing people for their political beliefs, eradicate or ease those beliefs, or does it reinforce the additional belief that they are at war with a hostile system? If I were a neo-Nazi and German law tried to silence me, I would not sit down and say, “Oh gee, you know what, they’re right!”. No. I would grow in my hatred because my liberties to express myself – I’m not talking about violence, vandalism, or arson – are oppressed for the sake of the protection of who I deem my enemy.

Policing speech silences it, but when you mute the TV show, it is still running. If you obscur it by chaning channels, it is still airing. If you scramble the network, the show is still happening at the studio. And Germans just love to mute and scramble and rock back and forth in the comfort of denial. They will feel good about themselves for policing someone who said something unpleasant.

Case in point: on a forum that has a thread for angry rants, people still can’t fully express their anger unless they do so in that typical German social language: very cuddly. Like, “Hi you lovelies, I’m so sad. Like, y’know?”. It’s hard to translate. Germans insist on “Ihr Lieben” even when addressing strangers on the Internet. God forbid they may appear cold or uncuddly. Boochieboo.
So, this angry rants thread. I tell of an encounter with a woman who tried to kill a baby by smoking next to the newborn when she could have stood elsewhere. At some point, that same woman insulted me racially, and so I told her – as self-quoted in said thread – to “take her racist Nazi ass out of my country”, and I may also have described her as ugly. Note the woman was not on that forum. I found myself banned for using the words quoted above.
Another time I found myself banned when I asked an antisemitic Muslim woman, who constantly attacked me for living in Israel and being one of those “cruel Jews”, where she got the Cyclon-B insecticide for her balcony flowers.
In neither case do I understand what was so horrible about what I said, rather than what I was talking about. In an argument, the German tends to defend the one expressing themselves politely while saying or representing horrible things, rather than the one who talks in a crude manner but is making the better points. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to stumble upon a scenario where a person would get silenced for shouting abuse at a child molester because the latter is expressing themselves in a meek, polite, and conscientious manner while the other person says, “You’re such a sick fuck, I hope you rot in hell”. I can actually guarantee you that on an online forum, the moderators would reprimand the latter by pointing out a violation of “etiquette” through crude language, while the other person, well, they may be a horrible person confessing to having done horrible things, but hey, they express themselves inoffensively…

The Cyclon-B example illustrates a great danger in Germany’s censorship of “rude” expression. In Germany, you can say anything and get away with it, as long as it’s expressed politely. You can slander someone and destroy their lives by politely expressing phony concern for their sanity, and you can veil your antisemitism by saying “cruel Zionists” instead of “stinking Jews”. The one who gets punished in Germany is, illogically, not the one spreading the questionable content, but the one subjecting people to crude language. However, “Fuck you”, for its meanings and intentions, is a lot less harmless than “I think this person is mentally unstable and I feel very sorry for them. They are clearly devoid of any moral notions and have been very unloved. I suggest they get treatment and be removed from the community until they have healed.” I’m sorry, but the latter undermines a person’s credibility and, in young people, may even undermine and permanently damage their confidence and their trust in themselves and their surroundings. “Fuck you” on the other hand, is something any sane person will get over within seconds unless the context makes it painful. Like getting dumped with those words.

This brings us semi-back to tolerance. No, Germans are not openly hostile, on the contrary, they are jovial, polite, and helpful when approached. While not very approach-y themselves. Save a German from breaking a sweat and feeling an obligation to be polite by not approaching them if you’re a minority person… Just kidding. Germans have this way of acting like they accept, tolerate, and embrace – as if these words were interchangeable – anyone as they are as long as they’re a good person.
Whoa.
Define “good person” and “anyone as they are”. They may be nice to the gay guy but more for a sense of being nice being the right thing to do, rather than truly believing that being gay is totally cool. They may be nice in the face of the very obviously Jewish or Muslim person, but still feel uncomfortable deep down and tiptoe so as not to offend. And who doesn’t hate feeling like one has to tiptoe? Make the cause go away! Make that person go away! They may force a smile when they see you in your green hair, 42 facial piercings, and radical idealist statement on your shirt, but they truly wish you didn’t poke at their comfort bubble looking like that.
Basically, the German creed of “Come as you are” has a small print that reads “If you fit in with the rest of us. Otherwise we’ll fake it but not call when you stop showing up”. Fitting in and being accepted/acceptable is extremely important to Germans. It’s important to all people everywhere but Germans have a way of overdoing it that is not too far removed from the Japanese. Hell, in Germany it’s considered rebellious or naughty (mostly in an approving “You’re cool, you’re noncomformist!” way) to get an eyebrow piercing or dye your hair bright red. It’s rebellious but socially acceptable because it’s inoffensive and subtle, but it’s already enough to be considered nonconformist or punk in Germany. The lady at the bakery counter may wink at you and smile like she’d smile at an experimenting child who has just entered the age of cute defiance. Because, there’s a stud on your tongue. Ooooh you’re so tough. Only in Germany. And Japan.

I understand Germany is doing all this because they’re terrified of free speech getting out of hand, morphing into hate speech, and causing a Fourth Reich to rise. However, penalizing rudeness, encouraging phony tolerance, and rewarding insincere politeness, is not the way. These things are what the Nazis did; it does not matter whether it’s the leftwing or the rightwing policing expression. This mentality is the breeding grounds for Nazi ideology. Nazi ideology is based on policing thought and speech and how and who people should interact with.
The aftertaste of Nazi Germany can only be truly overcome by sincerity. A sincere change of attitude, a sincere approach to one-another even if negative given it be harmless. Yes, “Asshole” or “I don’t like your face” is harmless. Policing what people say, doesn’t change what they think. It only adds resentment to the mix. And that’s a Holocaust waiting to happen.

Last, but not least, it is simply embarassing and dishonorable to the superiority and greatness of human intelligence when you swing the banhammer at grown-ups for using “bad words”. It’s like kindergarten, only worse. You say a bad word, you get sent to time-out, and the context doesn’t matter. Even if you quote someone else insulting you, YOU get banned. It’s like in kindergarten, really, where a kid gets intro trouble for crying disruptively after having gotten a beating from the bully.

All I’m saying is: Germany, loosen the fuck up.

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The Ethics of the Underworld

1 Jun

 I love the Israeli TV show “The Arbitrator”. It’s about a family of organized criminals. There seems to be more justice there than among law-abiding society.

You betray them? You die.
You collaborate with the enemy? You die.
You cheat on them? You die.
You kill their child/parent/spouse? They kill yours.
You break your word? They break your spine.
You beat a pregnant woman to the point she loses her baby and can’t have any more? You die.
Breakers of words get broken, destroyers of life get destroyed.

Law never seems to cover nearly enough on one end, but too much on the other. You liberate a tortured animal, you go to prison. You share the crimes of your government with your fellow citizens, you go to prison. You make love to a consenting minor who regrets nothing, you go to prison. But you cheat and betray, you cause hurt and even suicide, and that’s fine by law. You order a genocide (america’s war on Iraq), you get re-elected.
Law makes little sense that way. A traitor can do as much damage as a rapist. One violates trust, the other violates intimacy, but both violate a deeply precious, vital, and vulnerable element of a person’s soul that they need in order to be strong in their personal integrity. So why should one be punished, while the other one gets away with it? Same with school bullies. Victims of real crimes can be utterly devastated, and for that the perpetrator is punished. Yet bullying victims can sustain just as much damage, and are left to cope alone while their tormentors are rewarded by lack of consequence? Makes no sense.

I don’t think it’s right that the victim has to deal with the damage done while the pereptrator gets to get on with their life. It doesn’t matter to me how a victim responds. I don’t think there is responsibility in sustaining or dealing with something you didn’t choose to happen to you, but that was forced upon you needlessly and deliberately by a third party. It is not blameless misfortune like an earthquake or disease. It is a choice action that has been forced upon the victim. And so, any and all responsibility should lie with the perpetrator. Which is why it’s nice that in the Arbitrator, the person who started it when they did not need to, ends up dead, in a wheelchair, or worse.

You can’t spell reaction without re-, which means it’s a REsult, a REsponse to what has been done to you. Would I tell anyone to fuck off if they didn’t deliberately offend me first? Would a person be in prison if they hadn’t committed a crime first? So why should the response/ibility to any other type of transgression be anyone but the perpetrator’s problem? You can always, without exception, choose to not be the initiator of evil. The choice is yours and with it, the consequence. Victims have limited options – the most important limit being the inability to not have transgression happen to them. You get the stone rolling = it’s your fault and yours alone if someone doesn’t make it out of its path in time. Just as not everyone can outrun a rolling stone, not everyone can heal from a non-criminal transgression. A victim hasn’t got 100% control over the degree of damage done to them, a perpetrator always has 100% control over whether or not to initiate transgression. This should relieve the victim of any and all responsibility. A soul can be broken like a bone. One can have as little control over how fast the soul heals, as one has over the bone.

After all, when a crime is one by law, the perpetrator gets punished no matter if and how much damage was done to the victim. Some rape victims brush it off easily, others kill themselves, but the rapist still gets the same punishment and nobody tells the victim it’s their job to suck it up and move on. The perpetrator is still punished, the victim defended. Why not in the case of liars, cheaters, traitors etc.? Morally, they are no better than legal criminals. The underworld/organized crime is cruel, but at least people reap what they sow. Law-abiding citizens? One does something that kills the other’s soul, but the body remains intact, so he gets away with it.

One of my favorites on that show was when Nomie Spoonie ordered her lover killed. He pretended to love her to get in her pants, then promised to marry her with no intention of doing so, so he got what he deserved: his best friend was ordered to kill him, but only severed his spine and put him in a wheelchair, to be forever the captive of Nomie Spoonie, now legally married as promised, and miserable as deserved. That is justice. That needs to be legalized.

Reality makes no sense.