When it comes to speech, America is turning into a country of floppers

Terrific analogy about free speech in today’s Morning Jolt (Jim Geraghty’s daily email):

[The authors of End of Discussionborrow a term from soccer to finally accurately label what we’ve been seeing in our public discourse in recent years. They describe Steven Sofier, president of the International Paruresis Association, demanding a Rob Lowe DirectTV ad be pulled for disrespecting those who deal with the real affliction of shy bladder.

Sofier had executed a dramatic cultural flop. In the sports world, flop is the term given to a player’s theatrical fall designed to draw a referee’s attention to a rather minor or even nonexistent foul. Soccer is the sport most famous for its flops but the practice has enthusiastic practitioners in American football and basketball.

There is rarely any penalty for flopping, and there is great potential upside — yardage, free throws, possession — if a referee is convinced of an athlete’s performance.

When it comes to speech, America is turning into a country of floppers, figuratively grabbing our shins in fabricated agony over every little possible offence in hopes of working the refs.

Was anyone truly offended by Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe, even within the tiny subset of Americans who suffer from shy bladder? Was any real damage done? Of course not, but there was no penalty for Soifer grabbing his emotional hamstring and writhing on the floor dramatically. Indeed, there is tremendous upside — all of America talked about his shy bladder support group for one day . . .

Imagine a basketball game in which thirty-eight minutes are just LeBron James lying on the floor getting awarded call after call. That’s what living in a culture of constant outrage feels like.

Perfectly, the line about LeBron James has a footnote: “Or just rewatch Game 6, 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Pacers vs. Heat.”

And then they write things like the section below, and I just want to throw the book across the room, frustrated that I hadn’t thought of that:

Our ostentatious eye-rolling over “micro-aggressions” is not an endorsement of rudeness or insensitivity. We’d be a happier, better nation if more people made more of an effort to treat others with kindness and respect. And we’d be a happier, better nation if others chose to forgive or shrug off unintentional or perceived slights from well-meaning fellow citizens. If only there were some sort of “rule,” if you will, that captured the essence of this spirit of mutual respect and empathy. Distilling such sentiment down to a single sentence would be golden. Someone could probably sell a lot of books.

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