News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Commentary: The "Gotcha" Thought Police

By Rawlins Gilliland, KERA 90.1 Commentator

Dallas, TX –

Years ago, I was the emcee at a fashion store's recognition breakfast. Between awards, I cracked inside jokes indigenous to retail culture. In one shtick, I lampooned about another 'perk' being added to the non-existent prizes, zanily announcing: "winners will have their phone calls to alterations answered in English."

See, you groaned. So did half the audience. I was mortified, later crucified. This, despite hourly complaints from store employees who resented being forced to physically go to alterations to get an item (while customers waited) rather than having it delivered, because people on the phone spoke only Spanish and they spoke none.

This is when I was first introduced to the "'Gotcha' Thought Police", a militia mindset where thinking one thing but saying another has become America's disingenuous piety game.

Meanwhile, quoting the smarmy department manager who condemned my "racist remark": "I don't call them 'Mexicans.' I call them 'Spanish people.' It doesn't sound so low class." So who's the racist here?

Welcome to what George Will calls 'mock outrage,' a mutated offspring of the Left's repressive political correctness, spawning an inverted ideology that effectively mutes logical discourse involving even slight generalities. Where stereotypes are discounted unless they are flattering and cultural humor languishes in ICU. A self-serving sucking bog where even Liberal thinkers can be lacerated Left and Right if they step outside sacred cow corrals. Small wonder Borat is this season's hit.

Race? I'm white, so it's "racially insensitive" to, for instance, suggest that AIDS is running rough shod over the Black community in part because homophobic denial is endemic pulpit to grave. Two-thirds to three-fourths of newly reported HIV infections are African-American women. That's either a lot of shared needles or bi-racial romance. Otherwise, like Ricky Ricardo said: "There's some other 'splainin' to do.

But the "Gotcha" S.W.A.T. team doesn't rest with race. For a Gay publication I wrote, with tongue-in-cheek irony, how boys grow up hearing clueless (or closeted) bigots mock homosexuals as "girl wannabes." Then they "come out," get liberated and refute that ignorant caricature. At which point, I quipped, many go to a drag show. Suddenly this was anti-gay, anti-trans-gendered, anti-drag queen! I received more hate mail than Ann Coulter if she slept with Clinton. Either one.

I've learned; abortion is the ultimate "no-man's land." I cannot question those I've known who choose abortion as their preferred prophylactic birth control rather than use protection. I describe myself as a pro-feminist male, but how is that the pro-choice's "reproductive freedom" my activist mother fought for? I mentor at-risk teens. These kids tell me, all they "have to do is get an abortion." No one tells them that an abortion cannot undo HIV and other STD infections that many have already contracted. How can discussing this make me ridiculed as anti-women?

By now, who cannot be trapped? When, like an abusive marriage, any remark can be ambushed in ongoing assault by the "Gotcha" Thought Police. Yesterday's mantra? "See no drivel, hear no drivel."

Today's mandate: "Keep your mouth closed and sigh through your teeth."

After all: being witty can be wicked, being right might not be righteous.

Rawlins Gilliland is a writer from Dallas.

If you have opinions or rebuttals about this commentary, call (214) 740-9338 or email us.