cultural censorship: costumegate to intellectual & instructional control – a warning

i started to write /warn on appropriation censorship callouts and against the virtue posturing by whom are now referred to as SJW’s (social justice warriors) years ago. these HP-published articles i wrote in January  of 2015 My Hoodie and in July of 2015, Disclaimerland & Validation Via Virtue  i remain grateful that these were published at HP at a time when articles were still submitted to staffers who vetted and either accepted or rejected them. and that includes ones like mine, which existed somewhat outside the HP box. to be sure, some of mine were rejected. a few are on this website. one article HP nixed was later published at www.judgybitch.com

originally written 11/17, updated 3-4/18:

Costumegate to Intellectual & Instructional Control: A Warning

Political correctness zealots are ushering in a new Prohibitionistic era with their callouts for cultural and creative appropriation censorship. Of tremendous concern, these restrictions serve as a gateway to cross-cultural proprietary intellectual control.

Cultural Prohibition and its offshoot, what I am calling Intellectual Prohibition, possess the capacity to suppress, if not regress, 21st century society and, like its 20th-century anti-alcohol predecessor, drive personal choice and the pursuit of creativity, individual expression and intellectualism underground*. While 21st century Prohibitionism is doomed to fail, as did its anti-alcohol ancestor (as do all extremist movements ultimately implode and backfire), the cultural and intellectual censorship and control, blindly and vehemently championed at present, will come at tremendous cost, considering its broad-spectrum reach and potential for society-disabling residual effects thereafter [1].

Halloween 2017 was targeted by Leftist Activists, who leeched onto the Cultural Appropriation buzz in an attempt to dictate who can or should wear what [2], starting with the simplest dress up and trick-or-treat traditions at Halloween time. Costumegate put children in the crosshairs, with singular focus placed on Disney’s newest royalnista, Moana [3] [my 11/17 article is posted below]. Appropriation Prohibitionists, bubbling up and out of the infinite and primordial blogosphere (where everything is subject to disagreement-based offendedness and subsequent historical inversion, PC condemnation and attack), took it upon themselves to suggest that if one is not “of” a given character, racially or culturally, one no longer has the right to dress up/costume self as that character nor to teach on its merits so that the supposed thoughtlessness of the accused appropriation is remedied by education and the appreciation gained from it. The proposed restrictions were cultural censorship imposed by an internet-fed click-based governing body comprised of the blogging masses. Blessed with mainstream media placement [3,4], this foray into social control netted the actual removal of product from shelves by the PC-cornered manufacturers and mega retailers [4].

Let us remember that Disneyfied characters/princes/princesses are leagues and epochs away from their originating source material [see my 2/14 HuffPost piece on this]. Disney characters are caricatures of characters, wholly melting potted, western world appropriated and apple-pie Americanized over the decades by a shining, bright and exuberant American business phenomenon globally known, loved and supported as Disney [5]. They are fully commercialized products. These distilled, techni-colored, kid-oriented reduxes of age-old figures, gleaned from history, folktales and mythologies, have been reduced to such a commerce-generating, innocuous point, that they should be considered as eligible for universal wear by anyone or anything.

So if this is the case, then only people of Polynesian descent can let their kids wear Moana costumes? Then only Arab kids can wear Princess Jasmine costumes, right? And then, only children of ancient [6] North American cultures [7] can wear Pocahontas costumes? Well, then, which tribes can or cannot wear her costume? And only black children can wear Tiana costumes, correct? Would that be only creole blacks? And so – just making sure, as I want to be consistent – only white children from Europe or European descent can dress up as characters of that tiara’d triumvirate, Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, right? And what about Ariel? Should only redheaded white kids be able to don the mermaid’s tail? Gingers are a stalwart collective; so we must defer there too, don’t you think?

Absent from the censorship callouts was any consideration that kids dress up “to be” their given character. In kid-speak, they “love” their characters; they honor and show admiration of their chosen ones by pretending to be them, in completeness or through specific attributes with which they identify, thanks to the organic assimilation that is play [8] Cultural appropriation censorship attempts to slam shut the first little doors or windows to any child’s greater awareness. Children’s young minds cannot yet process the nuances and complexities of historical societal beholdeness, nor the blame that has become the prevalent spotlighting device of social activists. Despite all entitlement laments that try to justify notions of restitution or revenge, the reality is that our children do not come into existence in order to bear the burdens of previous generations.

Leftist Cultural Police, more commonly called SJW’s, have been fighting to restrict creative production on the supply side for some time now [9] with their ever-broadening mandates. Who can design what has become, in their minds, highly and tightly restricted [10]. To borrow from other cultures over the eras, the very definition of creative sourcing and its reflection as societal evolution, will be, if they have their way, severely restricted, if not shut down. Verboten! Per the LCP, one can only create from within one’s own heritage, one’s own cultural and/or racial identity. Listen: You can start to hear the doors and windows slamming shut as, via left activist ownership claims, the universe of inspiration implodes.

In the US, the attack and undermining of “white”** society, aka European society and its connection to the populating and formation of the USA, is illustrated by the accusations and restrictions (ownership via censorship attempts) of “non-white” (as the term “minority” can no longer apply being that “minorities” are no longer in the minority in most markets) members and advocates, who are riding the current wave of so-called hate speech blanket labeling of anything pertaining to support of white history or culture. The iconoclastic riots of 2017 bear public witness to this movement, where mob appeasement non-enforcement of the law allowed for the illegal destruction and removal of targeted public works of art and also of randomly attacked, unrelated works of art as the destructive movement gained impetus, became ever less definable, and crossed (back over) to older nations elsewhere in the world.

With Costumegate, the LCP took their fight into the free market consumer side: Expression through the wearables, which we generally call personal style, fashion and costume, are now subject to the same categorical censorship. Who can own/possess, who can wear what, is being challenged [11] and control is being sought – ownership via censorship. Mainstream media is awash with articles and op-eds on this, which appear with the same regularity as when fashion collections hit the runways and social media feeds.

Cultural Appropriation Prohibition reaches deep into homes and families to impose the simplest restrictions on parental rights over their children, even in matters as light-hearted and joyously playful as dress up for trick or treat. In doing so, PC quashers are suggesting parents do not possess even the right or capacity to introduce their children to topics on people of different cultures or societies over time. That cuts a slippery slope to knowledge restriction and educational censorship via what one could construe as appropriation censorship of the intellectual kind [12]. What the Left previously attacked when faith-based practices of Conservatives guided political paths, it now carries like a flag into war against freedom of expression and its tangential Right to free speech.

Here is how I define it: Intellectual Appropriation Censorship or Prohibition is the mandated restriction against the possession of knowledge of any facts, treatises, studies or viewpoints held by anyone not of any given topic’s direct lineage by way of racial or cultural heritage, as well as the restriction against the passing on of that knowledge – aka to teach – on any given topic outside of one’s own racial or cultural heritage.

In other words: One must be “of” any given topic in order to be able to learn/know of it or to teach it.

Hmmm. So, all those professors in all those universities, who have championed hardline PC agendas in the cultivation of their easily triggered, thin-skinned student constituency, where to disagree and to be offended are one and the same thing – are you telling me that they will wind up pushing themselves out of their very own positions? For the most part, they are the educationally privileged men and women in possession of appropriated knowledge – aka academic expertise – that exists outside of their personal heritages…. Might they lose the right to be experts and teach on any topic not inherently held by them personally, as part of their direct racial or cultural heritage? Might they be forced to relinquish their positions to a new wave of hires who are “of topic”? At the outset, we can still imagine a white European teaching, for instance, British or American history; but if we want to be consistent with current trends, should we also be stripping the “victors” of their right to teach these subjects and now defer solely to those descendants of the conquered societies and ethnic groups? Victim culture focus has fostered recent iconoclastic rioting and the erasing of history. Viewing it now only from the bottom up stokes legacies of entitled retribution…. To lose is to win…?

Combined with the still growing and morphing (aka spread of guilty-until-proven-innocent, all-inclusive, gray area-included) Victim Culture [13], these two areas of restriction, cultural and intellectual, will possibly merge to a point where knowledge and the ability to teach on any given topic will come first from victimhood, whether verified or by accusation alone. If taken to its logical conclusion, this could lead to a hiring mandate across the full instructional spectrum, that at all places of learning, the teaching positions will not only be held by those who identify as possessing direct racial/cultural lineage to any given subject, but also that those who claim some form of victimhood directly connected with their identity, whether it is substantiated or not, will net them the final hiring advantage. This preferential selectivism will make Affirmative Action of the 20th century look like a polite political aside.

We would do well to self-caution, to bear in mind that victimhood is exceedingly rich viralization fodder [14]. Most self-elevating online activity is in done in the name of the e-fame game, and new lows are tapped to gain notoriety as the virtual landfill of information continues to build up. Personal vendettas and cultural agendas of revenge fly on the vengeful wings of hashtags [15] that fill the skies and consume like swarms of locusts. Anonymous accusers and their quick-clicking judges, juries and executioners, which have proven their collective ability to manipulate and condemn on the largest possible scale, have the potential to skew everything – from discourse to curricula to legislation.

What of the dispassionate academics and legislation upon which the greatest cultures and nations have all been founded? [16]

We have already witnessed the defaulting of what is either unintended or unwanted experience as being the most direct and succinct path to “expertise” [13], affirmatively skewed against whites, and in particular, and against white males. Social media’s 24/7 voice, with its reliance on quick-click fame/notoriety and penchant for anger and accusatory platforming, will take myriad censorship-promoting campaigns full-circle, for it is then those humans with the most spare time on their otherwise idle hands who will spread and grant click-based, populist credence to a series of mandates and attacks that just might help knit – or do we say 3-D print – the most deeply invasive (thanks to tech and its ability to infiltrate lives at unprecedented, nano levels) blanket of censorship Western society has yet endured.

November 2017

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* From glib assessments regarding the pursuit of fun and pleasure to point-by-point societal impetus and agendas to subsequent ramifications, the many parallels are notable: These were/are social control movements launched under the auspices of progressive activism, were/are over-reaching campaigns led primarily by militant feminists; these campaigns were/are borne of personally held good intent that instead became/can become a societal Frankenstein.

** “white” in quotations as being a relative, descriptive word to indicate any human with a preponderance of physical attributes, also referred to as Europeans or Caucasians, that suggest 1) racial and 2) cultural connectivity to the paler skinned, generally lighter-eyed population descended from northern global, aka European regions, with consideration to Mankind’s nomadic journey and conquests over place and time over the millenia. The term “white” is a relative moniker, for “whites” are never actually white, just as “blacks” are never actually black.  conversely, “non-white” pertains to all racial types that do not present as “white.” Due to the natural preferences, practices and tendencies, and the subsequent legacies of tribalism among like peoples who evolve as societies over time, not only appearance but also behaviors and markers of societies have come to formulate races and racial identities as tangible, accepted and even celebrated, cultural demographic groups.

Footnotes and links:

The web pages and articles cited represent only a small sampling of easily found reference material. The reader is urged to seek out and read, as search engines permit, with the understanding that ever more limitations are being put in place that will further skew search results, if not eliminate them altogether. http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/06/17/banning-broadly-defined-hate-speech/id=70009/; https://nypost.com/2017/08/21/how-apple-and-google-are-censoring-the-mobile-web/; http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/03/29/the-future-of-free-speech-trolls-anonymity-and-fake-news-online/

  1. http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/unintended-consequences/; https://www.futuresofpalmbeach.com/addiction-research/history-impact-prohibition-america/
  2. http://www.raceconscious.org/2017/09/moana-elsa-halloween/
  3. https://nypost.com/2017/10/16/moms-worry-trick-or-treating-as-moana-is-cultural-appropriation/
  4. http://beta.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-disney-moana-costume-controversy-20160922-snap-htmlstory.html
  5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dreaming-freud/201406/the-importance-fairy-tales; http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/reading/2014/06/5-reasons-why-fairy-tales-are-good-for-children; https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/oct/13/film.fiction; http://childreach.on.ca/blog/why-are-fairy-tales-important-for-children/; https://www.livewelltoday.info/why-are-fairy-tales-important-for-a-happy-and-healthy-childhood/
  6. “Ancient” replaces the misnomers “Indigeneous,” “Native,” and in this case, “American Indian.” Anywhere on Earth, but for the prehistoric super continent of Africa, Man is a nomadic human import to all lands and nations formed, as chronicled in history and by current cultural and political geography. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/world-history/state-of-nature-how-modern-humans-lived-as-nomads-for-99-per-cent-of-our-history-1604967.html; http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/almost-all-living-people-outside-africa-trace-back-single-migration-more-50000-years; http://cssr.berkeley.edu/cwscmsreports/methodologies/default.aspx?definition=CensusEthnicityCoding&backReport=PIT&report=
  7. https://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/opinion/why-your-white-kid-probably-shouldnt-dress-up-as-moana-for-halloween/
  8. http://www.parenting.com/article/why-kids-love-to-play-dress-up; https://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2016/10-benefits-of-dress-up-play-for-children.html; https://www.education.com/magazine/article/How_Dress_Shapes_Your_Child/; http://life.ca/2016/02/19/dress-up-play/
  9. https://www.businessoffashion.com/community/voices/discussions/cultural-appropriation-theft-or-innovation; https://www.businessoffashion.com/community/voices/discussions/cultural-appropriation-theft-or-innovation; https://www.vogue.com/article/dreadlocks-hair-debate-momenthttps://www.teenvogue.com/story/gucci-dapper-dan-cultural-appropriation; http://uproxx.com/realtalk/white-rappers-hip-hop-appropriation-appreciation-outsiders/; https://www.reddit.com/r/LetsTalkMusic/comments/4gpqf2/lets_talk_about_why_some_white_rappers_are/; http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/30/living/native-american-fashion-appropriation/index.html
  10. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/t-magazine/fashion/marc-jacobs-dreadlocks-appropriation.html; http://www.acclaimmag.com/style/cultural-appropriation-in-fashion-is-nothing-new/; https://www.teenvogue.com/story/vs-fashion-show-cultural-appropriation-victorias-secret
  11. http://www.refinery29.com/racism-fashion-industry-cultural-appropriation; https://qz.com/520363/borrowing-from-other-cultures-is-not-inherently-racist/; https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/zmx5dx/how-to-appreciate-a-culture-without-appropriating-it; https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/09/cultural-exchange-and-cultural-appropriation/; https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/07/cultural-appropriating-outfits/; http://www.complex.com/style/2013/08/clothes-white-people-shouldnt-wear/
  12. http://www.redbookmag.com/life/mom-kids/news/a52626/moana-halloween-costume-racist/;
  13. http://quillette.com/2017/12/27/collision-reality-depth-psychology-can-tell-us-victimhood-culture/https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/the-rise-of-victimhood-culture/404794/; http://www.nationalreview.com/article/424805/victim-culture-killing-american-manhood-david-french; https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/opinion/sunday/the-real-victims-of-victimhood.html; https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201611/the-growth-victimhood-culture; http://www.learnliberty.org/blog/do-we-live-in-a-victim-culture/http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-victimhood-culture-us-politics-528989; http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/millennials-created-generation-snowflake; http://college.usatoday.com/2017/02/01/the-origin-of-the-term-snowflake-may-surprise-you/
  14. https://www.whoishostingthis.com/blog/2014/09/08/internet-famous/; http://www.serplogic.com/all-things-marketing/going-viral; https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2017/07/31/why-its-so-hard-to-go-viral/&refURL=https://www.google.com/&referrer=https://www.google.com/; https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/mar/16/how-to-make-something-go-viral-tips-buzzfeed
  15. #metoo #itwasme https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/metoo-\itwasme-and-the-post-weinstein-megaphone-of-social-media; http://www.nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/10/me_too_metoo_alyssa_milano_sexual_assault.html; https://www.usnews.com/opinion/thomas-jefferson-street/articles/2017-11-03/why-metoo-is-bad-for-women-in-the-workplace; http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-me-too-sexual-assault-wilhelm-1023-story.html; http://www.heritage.org/crime-and-justice/report/guilty-until-proven-innocent-undermining-the-criminal-intent-requirement
  16. http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1775&context=ndlr; “Dispassionate objectivity is itself a passion, for the real and for the truth.” Abraham Maslow; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/bhmasl.html

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Costumegate – originally posted November 2017

Disney character Costumegate, most recently Moana-centered, has the media and social outlets on fire. I see the proposed restrictions as appropriation accusation that leans far towards censorship imposition and believe children should be able to dress up as they and their parents/caregivers see fit.

For one, the Disney-fication of characters leaves all those princes, princesses et al leagues and epochs away from their originating source material. These caricatures of characters have been wholly melting potted, western world appropriated, and further, Americanized over the decades by the business phenomenon globally known, loved and supported as Disney. Many would argue (long standing debates on this exist) these characters as wholly commercialized, superficial archetypes with no integrity at all. I think both princess-pro and princess-con factions could agree that these Disney characters are products, technicolored, kid-oriented reduxes and reductions of age-old figures gleaned from history, folktales and mythologies, stylized and homogenized to a point where they should be considered as eligible for universal wear by anyone or anything (…and why not include the pet costume industry?).

Second, what’s missing in all this hoopla is the fact that kids dress up “to be” their given character. In kid-speak, they “love” their characters. Children honor and show admiration for their chosen characters by dressing up as them, by pretending to be them, in completeness or through specific attributes with which they identify, thanks to the organic assimilation that is play. Kids are different from adults when it comes to costuming: they are not poking fun at the characters they wear/become. Indeed, kids are exploring, testing and extending themselves and their worlds as they channel their characters. They are learning and empowering themselves, and through play, connecting with other children through the infinite realm of make-believe.

I am not stating anything new or radical or complex. We were all once children and most of us interact with children on a daily basis and know how important play is to children. It seems that quick clicking advocates could give pause and be helped off their mighty virtual steeds, for, however well intended, their protests only create more distracting, adult-world buzz. We just might net similar – and perhaps even better – results with our children when the negative imprinting of “NO” is not used to slam shut the first little doors or windows to any child’s greater awareness. Children’s young minds and mindsets cannot yet process the nuances and complexities of historical societal beholdeness, burden or blame, and should not be held accountable by virtue of their imagination-tapping existence alone.

 

 

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