The question starting to be asked is if something popularly known as micro-aggression is now legitimizing thin-skinned and perpetually offended individuals to cry foul at every imagined slight. In a nutshell, proponent of the micro-aggression theory believe that without even realizing it, certain thoughts, words, and deeds are evidence of someone’s inner bigot. However, critics of such claim that any given individual or group with a grievance can find an insult in even the most innocuous statement said to them or even in their mere presence.
Sadly, the recent on-air murder of reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward could be a prime case in point. As reported by KCRA television (NBC affiliate in Sacramento, Calif.) and the New York Post, both on Aug. 28, 2015, the catalyst for ex-fellow employee Vester Lee Flanagan’s grisly shooting spree on live television was Parker’s seemingly unrelated choice of words on two different occasions.
As reported, when Parker first came on-board at the Roanoke TV station as an intern, she once made mention in the presence of Flanagan of “swinging” by a certain address. On another occasion, she stated in the parlance of on-scene reporters, they were in the “field” doing a live report.
As innocent and as unrelated Parker’s choice of words were, Flanagan considered them as somehow as connected, racist in spirit, and meant to subtly remind him of slavery. The offended Flanagan promptly filed an internal complaint against Parker. Station management investigated and dismissed the allegations.
Nonetheless, according to Ray Fuqua, WDBJ’s video director, “That’s how that guy’s mind worked. Just crazy, left-field assumptions like that. [Those words are] just common, everyday talk. [But] that was his MO — to start s- -t,” Fuqua explained. “He was unstable. One time, after one of our live shots failed, he threw all his stuff down and ran into the woods for like 20 minutes.”
Not the only one with vivid memories of Flanagan’s complaints of apparent micro-aggressions, WDBJ cameraman Trevor Fair stated that commonplace words and phrases would routinely send Flanagan into a complaints of racism. “We would say stuff like, ‘The reporter’s out in the field.’ And he would look at us and say, ‘What are you saying, cotton fields? That’s racist.’ We’d be like, ‘What?’ We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we’re all racists.”
Not exactly holding back, Fair added, “This guy was a nightmare. Management’s worst nightmare.” According to the veteran cameraman, Flanagan assumed everything was a jab at his race, even when a manager brought in watermelon for all employees.
“Of course, he thought that was racist. He was like, ‘You’re doing that because of me.’ No, the general manager brought in watermelon for the entire news team. He’s like, ‘Nope, this is out for me. You guys are calling me out because I’m black.’” Flanagan retold that Flanagan even declared that 7-Eleven was racist because it sold watermelon-flavored Slurpees. “It’s not a coincidence, they’re racist,” he allegedly told Fair.
Reporter Katherine Timpf of National Review opined last year of the eleven “most politically correct moments on college campuses in 2014”:
- Princeton University students launched a microaggression-reporting service. In December, Princeton students relaunched “Tiger Microaggressions,” a service that takes other students’ reports of microaggressions and publishes them on its Facebook page. According to the operators, absolutely anything can qualify as a microaggression since “there are no objective definitions to words and phrases.”
- College students invented a roofie-detecting nail polish — only to be told that that’s actually also rape culture. In August, college students invented a nail polish that changes color if it comes into contact with date-rape drugs — only to incite rage from feminists who insist that anything that might help women protect themselves actually promotes rape culture by acknowledging that we live in a world where rapes happen. (FYI: We do.) Or, as feminist activist Rebecca Nagle eloquently put it: “I don’t want to f[***]ing test my drink when I’m at the bar. . . . That’s not the world I want to live in.” The fact that fear of whether or not someone could be wearing the polish might deter potential rapists from drugging women’s drinks (whether or not they themselves were actually testing their f***ing drinks or not) was not addressed.
- Students hosted an anti-rape-culture rally only to be told that’s — yep — actually also rape culture. In October, an Arizona State University rally against rape culture was slammed for promoting rape culture because it encouraged men to respect women — and respect for women should be “a given” and not have to be encouraged. Come on, you guys!
- A school campaigned against “offensive” language such as “wuss,” “you guys,” and “derp” because it has an “oppressive impact on culture.” Oops. I guess I accidentally oppressed some people with the way I ended No. 3 — at least according to the “More Than Words: Inclusive Language Campaign” launched at Macalester College this past summer. It included videos featuring student explanations and posters covering the campus walls that dispensed politically correct instructions — such as telling students to stop using words such as “crazy” or “derp” and replace them with “person with a mental health condition” or “person with a learning or cognitive disability” (even though those arguably kind of maybe sound even more offensive.)
- Students opposed a female-to-male transgender candidate for class diversity officer because he’s a white man. “I thought he’d do a perfectly fine job, but it just felt inappropriate to have a white man there,” the anonymous student behind the so-called “Campaign to Abstain” at the all-women’s Wellesley College said.
- A school told its orientation officers not to use the word “freshman” because it promotes rape. In November, Elon University instructed its orientation officers to use the term “first-year” instead of “freshman” because the term “freshman” is sexist and actually suggests that women might make good rape victims.
- A liberal group demanded the school teach a mandatory transgender-sensitivity class to right the wrongs of colonial America. In June, more than 700 students, professors, and faculty at the University of Minnesota ordered the school to admit it’s just a product of the evil actions of colonial Americans and must fundamentally alter its structure to make it up to marginalized communities — starting with forcing all students to take a transgender-sensitivity class.
- A student newspaper’s editorial board wrote a whole piece about how racist bras are. In September, the student editorial board at the University of Oklahoma wrote an article all about how bras are racist because they come in colors named “nude” and not everyone is that color when they’re nude. They also said that Band Aids were an example of white privilege.
- The War on Tacos. A sorority at California State University, Fullerton, got in serious trouble in September for hosting a Taco Tuesday event because some attendees wore “culturally insensitive attire” (read: sombreros and mustaches.). A similar thing happened in April at Dartmouth University, where backlash forced a fraternity to cancel a fundraiser — yes, fundraiser — for cardiac patients because one student complained that the “fiesta” theme was offensive. Although the fraternity was careful to warn students to definitely not wear sombreros to the event, they did plan to serve virgin frozen drinks, salsa, guacamole, and — gasp! — burritos, so apparently Mexican food is offensive in itself.
- The War on Coconut Bras. In May, the student government at the University of California, Irvine, demanded that the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity be punished because they hosted a fundraiser — yes, again, fundraiser — where students wore grass skirts and coconut bras. That’s apparently racist against Pacific Islanders. A group of students even released a statement that said stuff like “tell members of your organization to stop wearing our traditional/cultural attires, they don’t know jack s[***] about its cultural significance.”
- Harvard University was about to stop buying water machines from the Israeli company SodaStream because they might be a microaggression. The school’s dining services also planned to remove the labels from all of the existing machines just to make sure no student has to see one and be traumatized. But to end the year on a good note: At the request of the university president, the school is reconsidering its decision.