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November 21, 2005

Amazon.com and judgemental friends

A few months ago a friend of mine asked for my Amazon Wish list. Whoo! I love getting gifts. But she was all annoyed (she's like that) about some of the DVDs I had on it. She really didn't like Penn and Teller's Bullshit. Well, fine. It wasn't on there for her. But she went on for quite a while. This is the same friend who went off about the interviews on the Daily Show because they "make fun of people who say stupid things." Um, I'm not sure why she's friends with me either. That's a good 30% of my day. And hers, but we won't get into that.

Here are a couple of "controversial" items on my list, and what I've heard from folks about them.

Margaret Cho - I Have Chosen to stay and Fight
"She's just a comedian. She's not a feminist."
Um, I completely disagree. Being funny doesn't mean you're not a feminist.

Janice Dickenson - Everything About Me Is Fake... And I'm Perfect
"Ew, she's gross. And a model. Who cares what models have to say?"
(From the same person as above)
Way to discount an entire group of women. I'm intrigued by Janice. She seems like quite a mess, but she has a great sense of humor about herself. See the damn title of the book.

Mary Roach - Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
"You don't even believe in God. Why would you read this?"
Well, first of all, I read her book "Stiff," which I loved, so I wanted to read more. Also? Just because I don't believe in something doesn't mean it doesn't interest me. And read the description. It's not called "Spook: Ghosts are real and so is the Lord"

Judith Levine - Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex
"Don't you think that's going a bit far? Minors should be protected from sexual exploitation."
Oh please. This book isn't about the wonderful world of child pornography. Enough with the kneee-kerk reaction to the words "children" and "sex."

Mark Noon - Yuengling: A History of America's Oldest Brewery
"That's just wrong. No one needs a whole book about beer."
You may be right. I love Yuengling, but it costs $40. No, fuck it. I still want it.

I know at least one of the people who appears in these comments reads this blog. So, uh, sorry. Wait no. I'm not sorry. If you feel like you have a right to not only disapprove of my desired reading, but actually tell me so, fuck off.

I (like most people) and incredibly judgemental in my own head. Anytime someone does something I think is a bad decision, I think about it. But I don't give them shit about it. And what drives me nuts is hearing that I'm not "feminist" enough, or "liberal" enough. If I were any more liberal I'd have to leave this country and start my own free-sex-having, constantly-drunk-and-high, no-clothes-wearing island of teeming hedonism.

But I don't just agree with things. I don't believe in censorship. At all. In any way. Salman Rushdie said "Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself." Truer words were never spoken. Hello, First Amendment? My liberalism comes from a belief that people should do whatever the fuck makes them happy, as long as they're not hurting anyone else. Speech is the essence of that freedom because we can never learn anything new without someone saying something controversial. Social change comes from someone saying something unpopular.

I know my friends aren't trying to censor my reading. But they are saying I shouldn't like certain things, or experience certain things because they're inconsistent with some narrow vision of what a liberal is, or what a feminist is. That sucks.






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