When I arrived at my first on-the-job training site for medical imaging, there were still built-in ashtrays in the hospital.
They weren’t used, but the time when they were wasn’t that long before I got there.
We used to reuse constricting bands – the things we put around your arms to get your veins to pop up. Hell, we used to call them tourniquets. I have a (small) collection of squeezie things that we had you squeeze while the tourniquets were on your arm.
That’s changed. No ashtrays, they’re called constricting bands and we use a new one with every patient, and the squeezie things that were squozen by innumerable hands are utterly gone. Because we’ve learned to do better.
When I was a kid, we told polack jokes. I had no idea what a “polack” was; maybe I thought it was just a term for “stupid person”. We definitely didn’t apply that term to an actual person.
Now, I know better, so I don’t tell (or really think of) those jokes anymore.
So I’m super annoyed at the GOP whining about “cancel culture”. Whether it’s the outrage over a toy, children’s books, or a cartoon skunk, it doesn’t matter.
I really liked Pepe Le Pew as a kid. He seemed to have a style, a cool, that was out of my reach. That and I can do a funny bad French accent.
But – just like with Revenge of the Nerds, The Empire Strikes Back (the way Han pressures Leia), or other older works – it’s problematic at best. We didn’t clock it at the time. That doesn’t make us good or bad people, it just makes us products of our time. Just like those works of art were.
At the same time, we know better now. I laughed at Mr. LePew. I thought that scene in Revenge of the Nerds was fine. And so on. Just like everybody at that time.
That you liked those things at the time doesn’t say anything about you as a person.
But now? Now that we know better?
Now your choices to defend and promote those problematic materials does say a hell of a lot about you – and how little the needs of other people matter to you.