By Susan North
There is almost nothing more negative in our society than hip hop. It has long, strong ties to racism (mostly about hating whitey), sexism (what women are called is unrepeatable in polite society), hatred of authority (especially police who crack down on crime), the ghetto, and un-musical music. Although lacking such obvious negative ties, there is not a lot that is admirable about modern dance either. Anna Pavlova, the great classic ballerina, was said to have responded to an invitation to dance with a modern dance troupe, “only if you dance with me first.” Clearly that was impossible, as classic dance requires real training, skill, and discipline while modern dance is a rebellion against classical ballet and is based on the expression of raw emotions.
There was no way I could have imagined that another topic would come my way so quickly from the same source – an internet group. In my previous posting, The Spirit of Hephestus, not Pygmalion, in Today’s Universities, or, The Tale of a Forewarned Helot I addressed the issue of PC blindness on the campus and the willingness of potential students and university departments to accept any lie to gain another helot. I understand the university’s position – they need helots, I mean students. I will never understand the student’s blindness.
To return to the internet group - it is geared to a specific location and group of people, but mostly contains rather mundane postings, e.g. lost kittens or moving sales. It also contains announcements such as the one below. My response to the moderator was blocked (see below). I have rearranged the supporting evidence (the emails) so that the oldest one (#1) is first for the reader’s convenience. And, full disclosure: the organization that runs this summer program has some fairly religious links which I (formerly) shared. If there are any questions the editor of this site is welcome to forward them to me.
The purpose of publishing this is to show how utterly PC our society has become. It is absolutely forbidden to say anything critical, or even slightly negative. Even if what one is criticizing is negative. In addition to hip hop and modern dance I also criticized this program for “scrapbooking” as a waste of time. I did scrapbooking before there was a word for it, and dropped it at age 10 because I realized a great deal of time was being spent doing something with virtually no merit. Now if a 10 year, even one who is not precocious, recognizes an activity lacks merit – why are adults promoting it?
It was a bit more difficult for me to comment on the other activities included in this summer program without knowing more about the actual content. Clearly every women needs to learn some self defense and probably assertiveness so this is a good thing. Photography seems rather harmless as a course, and there is no way of knowing what they mean by “Art Expression.” But I’ve rarely met any girl over the age of 13 who didn’t have as much knowledge of cosmetology, makeup, and drama as any adult, and sometimes more (usually it is immaturity and lack of judgment at fault in these matters, and time is the best cure). Perhaps this program attracts a high percentage of social misfits who need all the help they can get, but no girl of any age or social sophistication needs hip-hop, modern dance, or scrapping.
What really disturbs me however is the fact that the moderator (L) of the group blocked my comments and thinks that teaching hip hop is okay. Is he/she that ill-informed? Or could it be that saying anything negative, about anything (no matter how negative), is completely unaccepted in their world. How can anyone defend the indefensible? Yet this group moderator ignores the negative consequences of hip hop while attacking me for being negative and critical, and like the American helot in my previous article does not understand the word irony.
The moderator did not respond to my response # 8. Then I received an announcement # 9. I used that to contact the moderator again # 10, but I don’t expect a response to that either – it proves my point.
I’d make my case in terms that the moderator might understand, but I have some doubts as to his/her ability to understand very much. I could explain that I have as many degrees as the most degreed board members heading the organization which is sponsoring these courses. But I don’t think that will cut it with this moderator. And I’m certain the moderator would not appreciate knowing how much I’ve learned about writing from several New York Times bestsellers (by Ann Coulter).
I could try to impress with my tolerance for “diversity” by explaining that I think Duane “Dog” Chapman is a great American. He is not the sort of person I usually admire – but hey, he put a lot of really bad people behind bars, including Andrew Luster, which is fine with me. But both Ann and Dog are white. However, while I deplore the whole hip hop culture, I fully support Rapper Ice-T’s position on the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms which prevents tyranny. But while Ice-T is black, the fact that both he and I support gun ownership is probably evidence to the PC crowd that we are just not “nice.”
Alas, the make-nice, PC crowd will tolerant anything but criticism (and gun ownership). If this is a “wonderful program,” as the moderator insisted, why can’t it be defended on a logical, real world basis? In short, what the moderator is engaging in censorship, because he/she can, and probably because the highest value of many in our society is making nice.
PART 1 – The announcement and correspondence with moderator
#1 Original email – announcement of summer program for teenage girls- 13-18
Teenage girls home with nothing to do? registration is still open for
This highly subsidized summer program starting July 30 for 4 weeks!
Scholarships are available
Please share with others who would be interested.
A One of a Kind Summer Opportunity for Girls 13-18 Years Old.*
Led by talented professionals, ______ gives teens a chance to experience a new type of artistic expression each week. ______ is for _____ or English-speaking teenage girls seeking to:
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms for emotional & stressful challenges
- Enhance their self-concept and self-esteem
- Improve their interpersonal communication skills
- Provide a safe and fun environment designed to foster healthy relationships
- Enhance social skills that will extend beyond the summer experience
7 Amazing Activities ! (Dates and times given)
- Hip Hop / Modern Dance
- Cosmetology / makeup
- Self Defense & Assertiveness Training
- Art Expression
> Space is limited!
# 2 My response If I had a teen age girl at home she would have plenty to do - she could to begin with helping with the cooking and housework. As a teen-ager I went through an entire cook-book one summer making every single recipe. That certainly gave me assertiveness training, because after a few tries the food was really good and I learned to either defend my cooking or get insulted (or ignored). It also gave me self-esteem - I could do something others couldn't or didn't do. It was a justified self-esteem in doing something which was worth doing.
And I would never encourage anyone, let alone a child to spend their time 'scrapbooking' - what a waste of time. Hip hop and modern dance - more foolishness. Do any of you really want your child to pursue a career in scrapbooking, hip hop or 'modern dance' (see Anna Pavlova's perspective on that) if indeed such a thing is possible? As to photography, anyone with half a brain can teach themself at this level, or get a book and learn from that.
I could go on and on through your list. But I see the point of this listing - to drum up business. Frankly, I find this disgusting and pathetic and while I understand wanting to drum up business, frankly this whole program is so lame it looks like some suburban American program for the mentally challenged. Is this what the ____people have come to?
You should be ashamed, and so should anyone who falls for it. And (name of internet group) should be ashamed of posting such silliness - but in this PC world I expect they will merely see me as an old fogy who isn't tolerant enough. Pathetic.
# 3 Susan, I am not going to post this message. I don't understand why you feel the need to put down a wonderful program, or anything else, for that matter, that does not meet up to your expectations. If you don't like something, fine, you don't have to. But as my mother used to say, if you don't have something nice to say, please say nothing.
Thank you for your cooperation,
# 4 Perhaps you can explain to me why you consider this a wonderful program?
# 5 Susan, I consider it an absolutely (italics in the original) wonderful program. There should be more like it, and I wish they had been around for my own girls. But that is not my point. I have been entrusted with the moderation of this yahoo group, which includes, but is not limited to, preventing hurtful and/or negative speech that is not in the spirit of the group. Your message was certainly not in keeping with that spirit.
# 6 What is it about this program that is wonderful? You still have not answered my question? What specifically is wonderful? And why would you want your girls to learn scrapbooking, hip hop or modern dance?
I was not asking you about the spirit of this group or your role as moderator. I want to know about the program.
# 7 They are all creative outlets that are enjoyable and appealing to that age group, with positive role models as leaders. More than that, it is a safe framework for girls of a vulnerable age who may turn to other ‘outlets’ if they are not directed in a positive way.
In case you are not familiar with the organization, KN is dedicated to youth at risk, though programs like these are geared to pre-empting the problems those kids face in the first place.
I hope this adequately explains.
# 8 Thank you for your response. I understand that creative outlets which are enjoyable and appealing to girls 13-18 years old are important. I understand that you want positive role models, but that is not the issue. The issue is the nature of these courses.
Hip hop and modern dance are not positive. Hip hop has very negative, ghetto/crime/sexually degrading connections, and like modern dance is focused on 'getting in touch with feelings', about raw emotion. The problem is trying to tame all that teen-age emotion, teaching them to control it, encouraging it will only result in more of the same. Classical dance, folk dance, many other kinds of dance can teach the control and discipline and other characteristics which are creative, enjoyable and can be taught by adults who are positive role models.
Scrapbooking is so easy it can be done without any instruction that I find it puzzling as to why it is being taught anywhere to anyone. (Personally, after the age of about 8 I would have been embarrassed to be taking such a class.) If you want to teach girls to use their hands, be creative, and develop an eye for color and design, why not sewing, knitting, crochet, quilting - there are so many USEFUL things that they could learn which can be used later in life. Scrapbooking is a dead end. Needle skills can be used in the home, and even in some employment situations. It can lead to professional studies in fashion or textile design. Classes in cooking, baking, candy making, etc., could do the same. Drawing and painting are other basic skills which would be a better preparation for adulthood than hip hop for example.
Last night the words "de gustibus non disputandum est" (literally "there must not be debate concerning tastes") came to me. But this isn't exactly about taste, it reaches much deeper. There is a fashionable attitude now that anything is acceptable and that all things are equal. This is simply not so. Some things do merit higher value. Most of these courses have low value, particularly the scrapbooking, hip hop, and modern dance.
Traditionally those in inferior positions in life aspired to ape their "betters." Alas, in modern society it has become the reverse. We should want something better for children yet these courses are simply pleasurable time fillers with no purpose, no justification beyond what you have outlined.
There are so many productive, and instruction things these girls could be doing with their time. In 10 or 20 years will they look back and think that they are glad they took a course in hip hop? Somehow I don't think so. Yet, even if it has no professional end they will be grateful to have developed some basic domestic skill, or perhaps occasionally will have used a basic knowledge of drawing.
By engaging in such meaningless courses these girls are being taught that it is okay to waste their time in meaningless pursuits. And that is the real crime of these courses, and one of the reasons I object to them.
Finally, the real debate that needs to be made in our society is not taste, but the debate on the value of differing opinions, and the justification of criticism. I believe I have justified my criticism of this program. Just because the program is being led by some fine people, who will serve as positive role models, doesn't mean the program itself isn't a waste of time and doesn't have some negative consequences. There is nothing wrong with being critical, and it can be a factor for good. By banning, on the internet group list, what you perceive as critical and negative you are stifling honest debate and inquiry, and creating a monopoly of opinion. I would like to remind you that monopolies create banality, limited choices, and destroy creativity. Just ask any former citizen of the Soviet Union.
PART 2 – Three days later
# 9 from member of the internet group
Does anyone know of a dressmaker in Jerusalem (preferably in the center of
town) who is reasonable and pleasant to work with - and speaks English?
#10 my email to the moderator of the group regarding #9 above
This is exactly why _____would be wise to offer a sewing course instead of scrapbooking or whatever. It never ceases to amaze me the number of women who don't know how to sew. This is not the first request I've seen on this list for dressmaker, and it probably won't be the last.
Now I don't know if KK is just looking for someone to fix a few hemlines or if she wants someone to do pattern drafting and/or make a wedding dress. But it doesn't matter. If every girl learned to sew, then a few more of them would take it to the next level by sewing for others. Individual girls might become high end fashion designers, or they might just do hems for 'pin' money. All of the girls in this program could develop a practical skill and creativity, plus all those traits you wish to instill while being taught by good role models. I rest my case.
Post Script: The moderator (L) has not responded to my last email in part 1 or part 2. At this point I do not expect a response. The moderator may, or may not, be a PC liberal, but even if very traditional on the issues this person has totally bought into the PC claptrap that it is wrong (maybe even evil) to ever criticize anything. I rest my case.