A Response to the Atheism and Dating Video

Based on the emails I’m getting and the comments I’m reading, I guess I should explain the opening story of my Atheism & Dating talk.

The point of my story was to give a funny story involving an awkward date. It wasn’t awkward because she was a little person (the preferred nomenclature, I’m told). It was awkward because she was a little person who didn’t tell me that about herself. I think that was kind of shady and dishonest.

Similarly, it would’ve been just as awkward if the picture she sent me showed her in a certain light to make her appear very tan or dark, but in person, it turned out she was very pale-white. Not because I’m anti-pale-white people. But because she’s not telling the whole truth about herself, about something I would’ve surely noticed when we met in person.

I think it’s important to be upfront and honest about those things. I don’t hide my body-type or skin color if I send someone a picture, because they’ll find out the truth immediately.

That’s why my date with the little person was awkward. The Springer revelation didn’t help much.

Could I have made that point more explicitly? Yes. Should I have used that story at all? Probably not. It’s my fault that I didn’t make my point clear. I would have also used a better choice of words. But what’s done is done. It’s the first time I’ve given that talk and it’ll change if/when I give it again.

Thanks to everyone who understood what I meant with that story for saying as much in the comments. To the rest, I hope this explanation suffices.

I hope regular readers know I would never try to pick on people for things that are obviously beyond their control.

  • http://alliedatheistalliance.blogspot.com advertisinglies

    I don’t comment much but I think I should just to say that you seem like a very considerate person. Everyone has a bad day in regard to public speaking and I think that people who are trying to somehow claim that you’ve set atheists back because you seem mean or inconsiderate in those videos are, in my opinion, being a bit melodramatic. So yeah, you come off a little like a jerk but you’re not a jerk. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

  • http://www.cufree.net phil ferguson

    we still love you!

  • Carlie

    I think that’s a very appropriate response to the criticism.

  • http://blaghag.blogspot.com/ Jennifurret

    Even nice people make bad judgment calls sometimes, and I hope people realize that. The jokes were meant to be humorous but were off color, but sometimes nice people are so nice that they’re a bit oblivious as to how things can be offensive. FSM knows I’ve said some pretty stupid stuff before – but out of ignorance, not malice.

    We still love you. Atheists are humans, we make mistakes too.

  • http://soberish.wordpress.com John Cain

    I appreciate the sentiment here, really I do, but I still think this is kinda weak. Given your speech, this:

    I hope regular readers know I would never try to pick on people for things that are obviously beyond their control.

    Doesn’t ring true at all, because picking on her for her height was exactly what you did. Otherwise, why did you use the “did she go up on you?” line?

    It seems you’re sorry people were offended, rather than just sorry.

  • Grung0r

    “I would never try to pick on people for things that are obviously beyond their control.”

    The pause for a laugh when you said ‘midget’, stating that you wanted to drive away when you saw her, the joke about your passenger seat being like Mt. Everest and the joke about ‘going up’ on you give the lie to this explanation. You weren’t just ignorant about the use of the word ‘midget’, you were playing her height for laughs, and frankly, the joke seems to be that she’s not really a person entitled to the respect that all people are. Instead of dissembling you should just apologize for it. It would look a lot better.

  • Dan W

    I’ve visited this blog for months, Hemant (though only recently gone from lurking to posting), and you’ve always seemed like a very tolerant person. I took your story for what it was- a funny dating-related story- and assumed that the emphasis was on a problem of dating websites, namely that people don’t always tell the truth about themselves on them.

    I figured the inclusion of that story was just an honest mistake. Glad to see you’ve confirmed my suspicions there. We all make mistakes sometimes.

  • JulietEcho

    It was clearly a case of ignorance, not malice. Ignorance is easily correctable and you’re obviously willing to learn from mistakes.

  • Drew

    Well, ALMOST everyone seems to have been able to get over it.

    That’s the trouble with being perfect, I guess.

  • http://www.jimloomis.deviantart.com Jimmy

    There’s a very thin but movable line to be drawn here, and I have a point to make as a person who has been on that same date (although not on Hemant’s end).

    I’m an amputee of the left hand. My friends treat me like they would anyone else. I don’t wear a prosthesis, so it is pretty obvious that I don’t have a left hand. That being said, I went on a date with a girl and things went great, she’d even planned another date! A week goes by and I don’t hear from her. I ask her why, and she says it was because I didn’t tell her about my amputation before we met.

    I omitted my amputation from conversation simply because I thought it wasn’t a big deal, that it didn’t matter. My friends even forget about it, often. It hurt so much to hear that it did matter to her, (enough to cancel a second date), that I kind of gave up for a while.

    Maybe my circumstances aren’t as severe as the little person’s, but I still wonder about how I’m to deal with future dates. I’m still a confident person, but I now make sure that I tell them about my arm, when to me it shouldn’t matter in the first place.

  • http://scaryreasoner.wordpress.com SteveC

    Hmmm. Sexual attraction is such a weird, ancient thing. When watching the video, I cringed a bit when you said “midget,” but at the same time… I doubt I cringed as much as when you saw her that first time (just being honest, not saying it’s the “correct” response.)

    Would people be reacting the same way if the woman hadn’t been a “midget,” but instead had had a tumor the size of a watermelon growing from her forehead? Or, maybe a third arm, growing from her forehead?

    The simple truth of the matter is people are pretty hardwired to find significant physical aberrations from “normality” to be unattractive, and for reasons which should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about evolution. To fault Hemant for this is to fault humanity tor being the product of evolution. That doesn’t help the “midgets” of the world, but, thems the breaks. Sucks. Real bad. Reality doesn’t bend just because someone, or even everyone, thinks reality sucks though. Human evolution isn’t Hemant’s fault, so don’t blame him for it, nor for the misfortune of others, whom he had nothing to do with, and he has no obligation to bend over backwards to the point of somehow suppressing a jillion years of evolutionarily derived instinct. If he instinctively is not attracted to “midgets,” so much the worse for the “midgets,” but that’s hardly Hemant’s fault. he didn’t get to choose his instincts, nor who he’s attracted to.

    The heart wants what the heart wants. One is not able to choose what one finds to be attractive in a mate, tasty in food, or desirable in art. One finds out what one likes by experience, and what one finds out is typically the result of millions of years of evolution. If one finds oneself on the wrong end of that bargain — nobody seems to find you attractive — that’s bad, for you, no doubt, but hardly the fault of those who find you unattractive.

  • Jerad

    All in all I know why you told the story, it’s a good way to start a lecture. It just could have probably been done more sensibly when she comes out mention that you should have not glossed over the height section of her profile, cut the everest joke, or at leas that part of the joke… “I made sure to go over to help her into the car” definitely cut the go up on you joke. and keep all the springer stuff. Making it clear that it’s your fault for glossing over the height line on the profile is key. (at least that’s how I see it.)

  • le_sacre

    I appreciate the apology, and I hope you learned something, but that doesn’t change the fact that what you said was inexcusable. I would have walked out (or directly challenged you) if I’d been there in person.

    I’m curious how you’d have felt, during the story, if you’d happened to glance into the audience and see a little person

  • Jay

    I don’t see the big deal. It’s not like he said little people deserve eternal punishment. He was just making some jokes.

  • multipath

    I hope regular readers know I would never try to pick on people for things that are obviously beyond their control.

    Then what was with the “helped her climb into my car like it was Mount Everest” crack?

    People weren’t offended because you weren’t attracted to a little person. It wasn’t even the use of the term “midget”..that’s easily forgiven as ignorance once acknowledged.

    It was the picking on people that was offensive. And for that you don’t even apologize; you deny it.

  • http://duoquartuncia.blogspot.com Duae Quartunciae

    I think you’ve missed the point here.

    It’s not a matter of what you meant, or what message you intended to convey. The real question is — was someone hurt? If it is only a case of lots of fragile people being politically correct without a credible stake in the matter, with criticism only coming from people who don’t “understand” you, then perhaps explaining what you meant would be useful.

    What you meant doesn’t factor here, in my opinion. And I do think it was hurtful; though I can’t claim any hurt to myself personally, and can’t vouch for it on my own behalf. I am sure that was not your intent at all; but that is what should be dealt with (if you accept that hurt might have been possible) rather than explaining yourself better for people who missed the message.

    IF you grant that people might have been genuinely hurt — the girl, for example, on seeing the video herself or readers who are themselves also midgets, or little people — THEN a frank apology without reservation is appropriate. In which case your thanks are not due not on the basis of whether people “understood” you or not, but on the basis of whether they helped you see something you might not have understood yourself at first instance.

    As for getting the message and tone right, it’s a really good idea to look for a self-deprecating story of some kind. It you are anything like me, that won’t be hard! If could even be done with this story, if you are careful with it, making yourself the butt of the humour and recognizing the aspirations and hopes of the girl.

  • Andrew

    Perhaps she turned to internet dating because she was sick of people not being able to see past her size?

    And anyway, at what point does a person require a disclaimer on their dating profile? Where do you draw the line?

  • AxeGrrl

    SteveC wrote:

    If he (Hemant) instinctively is not attracted to “midgets,” so much the worse for the “midgets,”

    Uh, I think you’re presuming far too much about “the midgets’” taste in men :)

  • http://sanguinity.livejournal.com Sanguinity

    It was awkward because she was a little person who didn’t tell me that about herself.

    Why are you displacing the blame onto her? It was awkward because you were someone who would never have dated a little person. If you hadn’t had that prejudice, it would have been fine.

    I think that was kind of shady and dishonest.

    Why? Because she didn’t anticipate and coddle your prejudices?

    Look, if you don’t want to date a little person, then don’t date a little person. But don’t turn around and blame her for your discomfort.

  • Peter

    I’d just like to say to Hemant that you reacted to both the date AND the user response exactly as I would have, and I think most other people here are severely over-reacting, or something.

    I also would like to support SteveC’s comment, which I believe very truthful.

  • Charon

    The problem is that all jokes are offensive to someone or another. I thought it was funny, but then I’m a 6’1″ insensitive bastard with no little people acquaintances (I didn’t know “midget” was offensive until now either – then again, I only learned last year that “homosexual” is also offensive).

    People say things here all the time that are offensive to religious people (and I don’t just mean the fundies, either). _The Life of Brian_ offends some (though certainly not all) Christians. So sure, raise Hemant’s awareness on this issue (since it was done from ignorance), but WTF is with attacking him for this (lots on Pharyngula)?

    I think the height issue was completely relevant to reveal before meeting, since it’s an obvious thing and dating is so dependent on physical attraction. (Just as a bald guy should say something if the picture he sends has him in a hat, or the obese person should provide at least a comment along with a head shot.)

    And yeah, the Springer thing made it much, much worse. And also revealed this woman as someone who has willingly put herself out to be mocked because of her height.

    Making fun of this woman? Fine. Making fun of all little people? Not fine. But that’s just my opinion.

  • http://quityourapathy.blogspot.com amiable

    I don’t think your intentions were bad and I think people are putting way too many expectations on you to be the perfect spokesman for atheism. You are just a person and you can’t be everything to everybody.

    You made a mistake, and I’m sure you’ll be more careful next time.

    I tend to think that atheists are one of the toughest crowds because they often seem to get enjoyment out of tearing people apart like this.

  • gribblethemunchkin

    Sanguinity said

    Look, if you don’t want to date a little person, then don’t date a little person. But don’t turn around and blame her for your discomfort.

    But this is precisely the problem, how could Hemant NOT date her when he didn’t know.

    I personally met my gf through internet dating but i went on several dates and some people are less than forthcoming. I understand, they are trying to increase their chances of a date, but it isn’t fair on the other person when you hold something back that you KNOW might be an issue.

    If you are a little person, or very overweight, or something along those lines you must expect the date not to go as you wished. It might not even be because the other person finds it off putting, but only because you didn’t mention it.

    That said i’m all for internet dating, but i’d make sure that i chat to the person for a couple of weeks before meeting them if i were to do it in future. Maybe get some more current pics than their profile pictures, find out their views on things like politics, religion, culture, etc. Most especially, weed out the psychos. Viewed like this, internet dating can become a useful filter.

  • Marisa

    I agree with Andrew. Where do we draw the line with disclaimers? Should you be putting whether you have been circumcised on your dating profile just in case it matters to your date? The whole point of dating is getting to know the other person.

    By the way, Hemant, I also agree that you seem to be a wonderful person that made a poor choice in your speech. If that was the worst mistake I ever made, I would be really proud of how well I navigated the treacherous waters of life.

  • Andrew Morgan

    Don’t sweat it, Hemant.

  • cat

    Steve C, I think you’re wrong. Many people with noticable disabilities have had no trouble being found acceptable sexual partners in other times or cultures. The post industrial revolution west has a specific view about disability which desexualizes the disabled as part of dehumanizing them. Just as social standards affect whether fat people are seen as beautiful, they also affect the view of people with disabilities.

    Also, ask yourself why you always expect everyone to be a big person. You (and our ablist society) are the one who set up that expectation. I highly doubt this woman told you she was not a little person. It is as if I picked a profile without a picture and was shocked to find a black person, because I had an assumption in my mind that white is ‘normal’. Being a little person is no more of a freakish identity than being black.

  • Peter L

    Iconic Spokane author, “reservation poet,” and screenwriter Sherman Alexie is often quoted as saying that he “never met a Native American,” but he knew “plenty of Indians.” Most of the people he knew on the reservation on which he grew up found it hilarious that uptight white politicos sweated and strained and got horribly offended anytime someone used the term they had been using their entire lives, especially in cases where the word just slipped out and was never intended to be offensive.

    Funny thing here is that I haven’t seen any responses (at least on this site, I haven’t had time to look through all of Pharyngula, where most of the nastiness comes from anyway) from actual little people.

    One of my dearest friends, Ashley, is affectionately known to everyone as Ashley The Midget. No one calls her anything else, including herself- it’s how she introduces herself to new people. And before you ask, no, she isn’t denigrating herself by using old stereotypes, she just likes to put people who are worried about their level of political correctness around her at ease.

    I’m not saying that her point of view is the majority in the community, or that others wouldn’t be offended. She does, however, get offended when people feel like they have to defend her for being different. When people are overly politically correct and condescending, as plenty of these comments are, she feels uncomfortable.

    In other words: Hemant didn’t mean to offend anyone, the statements may have been a little off-color, but this isn’t a huge issue worthy of intense discussion, and any commenters who think so really need to get over themselves. Really, isn’t sanctimoniousness something you folks typically mock the religious for having?

  • Kate

    Having been sitting front and center during that talk, I personally didn’t find the story to be that far off-color. The use of the term ‘midget’, I can let slide because not everyone knows the PC term for every single case. I agree with several others- I took it as an awkward date story. People are making way too much out of this and need to calm down. It was an honest mistake and a learning experience.

  • Christine

    Peter, I am a Little Person. I, like other Little People, take great offense at the use of the word “midget” to describe us. It is a derogatory term used to oppress and belittle us. I’m glad your friend Ashley is comfortable with it. It is her choice to label herself as she sees fit and if “midget” is okay for her, than okay. That does not make it okay for the rest of the Little People community, however, and with a little digging you’ll find Ashley’s ability to embrace the slur is not overly common in the community as a whole.

    I was very offended at the original story, however as a long time reader of this blog, I feel I “know” Hemant well enough to know he wasn’t intentionally being offensive. He simply didn’t know better. It was offense out of ignorance as opposed to offense out of intent. His apology and admittance to not knowing better at the time is appreciated.

    Little People may be not be vocal here (in fact, this is the first comment I’ve ever made on his blog), but we are very vocal about the offensiveness of the word “midget”. It’s not “uptight white politicos” in this case… it’s us as a community trying to get rid of the negative stereotypes. Others have linked to a Salon article about the subject.

    Here are some other Little People speaking out against the word in the public eye as a whole:
    The Little People of America homepage discusses the word “midget”

    Daniel Woodburn educates Robert Ebert

  • Chester

    Hemant,

    Your story was perfect.
    You didn’t make a mistake at all.

    Look, your story was about a surprise followed by an absurd situation. If I remember correctly, you said she was on Jerry Springer? With two other, wrestling little people?

    Holy crap, what more could you ask for? “I dated a little person who wrestled other little people on Jerry Springer.” This sentence by itself is a great story. The only thing that’s offensive about this is that Springer exploited these people in the first place – but that’s not your fault.

    Apologize for using the word “midget” and remove it from your vocabulary. But that story is real – it actually happened to you. Keep telling your story – the fact that people find it offensive will not change the fact that it happened, and it was funny.

  • Ron in Houston

    I didn’t know “midget” was offensive until now either – then again, I only learned last year that “homosexual” is also offensive

    Damn, I guess I need to go to a remedial politically correct 101 class.

    Homosexual is offensive? Really?

  • http://comfortfoodvegan.blogspot.com anardana

    I was offended when I watched the video, and I’m glad you apologized.

  • Chris

    @Sanguinity
    Yeah uh it’s really not prejudice if you don’t want to date a little person. You’re not pre-judging. It’s not like you’re immediately assuming she’s a horrible person because she’s a midget, and that’s why you won’t date her. You KNOW that you wouldn’t be PHYSICALLY attracted to her because she has a particular PHYSICAL attribute that is readily apparent. The blame for the uncomfortable date goes with the little person in this one, since he never would have gone on the date in the first place otherwise.

    Say I don’t like dating girls with really flat chests. Same deal – it’s a factor outside of their control, but i’m just not as physically attracted to her as I am to a girl who is more well-endowed. No, it’s not fair, but neither is life. I also choose the girls I date based on a number of attributes which aren’t purely physical.

    Ultimately everyone is free to be discriminating as much as they like in their choices of who they want to date – it’s their personal choice. Are you gonna bust me for discriminating against men since I don’t want to date them?

    As far as “where the line is” in what you should reveal online, I think the point would be to use some common fucking sense. “Being a little person” is kind of obvious. Just as what would happen if someone used a picture of themselves from 10 years ago when they were 150lbs skinnier. Results not hard to predict.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    I dated a girl with one leg before (this was also not brought up in her profile or in discussions before our date). That didn’t put me off as much as her attitude and personality (some of which was due to her experience, as an amputee and also dealing with several other disorders which resulted in multiple surgeries). She was a pretty angry person which drove me away faster then anything, but there is a lot of truth to physical attraction. People have attractions to all sorts of things, short, tall, hair color, eye color, skin color, race, all sorts of things. Would the story have been as offensive if the woman had been 400 lbs? Would the joke have been appropriate in a comedy club, not at an atheist conference? Do people get as offended with we refer to Christians as zombie worshiping child rapists?

  • Grung0r

    bjorn:

    Using offensive language to refer to religious people or their beliefs is not the same, because when we use insulting or ridiculing language towards the religious the intent is just that: To insult and ridicule. We’re just okay with it. Hemant would at least say he did not intend to ridicule little people(even if that’s what his jokes and his non-apology indicate).

  • http://problogs.wordpress.org Ben

    We live and learn. And it’s really decent of you to post this explanation/apology.

  • LKL

    Charon:
    The problem is that all jokes are offensive to someone or another.

    That isn’t accurate. It may be that the only jokes that you think are funny are offensive, but it is possible to tell jokes without being a jerk.

  • Mattio

    “Here are some facts about midgets that I read in Discover magazine. Don’t dispute me! If you hit a midget on the head with a stick, he turns into forty gold coins. Did you know that? Forty glittering gold coins you can take to the market and buy a fine, fat goose for your goodly wife. Also, if you throw a midget into a tub of hot water he makes sleepy time tea. Oh! Isn’t that a big tub full o’ caramel? Thanks, Mr. Scoops! Also, if you kick a midget in the balls he turns into eight squirrels and they run off into the forest. But here’s the thing, if you lose a fight to a midget you become one. Did you know that? At the beginning of time, there was one midget. And he was all, ‘Come on, dude!’ Now look around. They’re everywhere. Let that be a lesson: just walk away. Be the bigger man — literally.”

    - Patton Oswalt

  • LKL

    Chris:
    “Yeah uh it’s really not prejudice if you don’t want to date a little person….You KNOW that you wouldn’t be PHYSICALLY attracted to her because she has a particular PHYSICAL attribute that is readily apparent. The blame for the uncomfortable date goes with the little person in this one, since he never would have gone on the date in the first place otherwise. …Say I don’t like dating girls with really flat chests. Same deal – it’s a factor outside of their control, but i’m just not as physically attracted to her as I am to a girl who is more well-endowed.”

    The problem here isn’t with Hemant’s discomfort on the actual date; he actually tried to be civil to the woman’s face, to his credit. The problem is that he later mocked and ridiculed the woman for failing to meet his expectations. Likewise, you don’t have to be attracted to women with flat chests, but mocking them and treating their condition as something that *no one* could possibly find attractive would be beyond the pale.

    When I was three years old, I got the impression that I could do whatever I wanted and not get in trouble, as long as I said ‘sorry’ afterward. My mother finally told me, ‘Sorry means that you promise never to do it again.’

    So, Hemant: If you’re really sorry, please don’t do this again. Mocking other people for conditions that they can’t help – whether you’re attracted to them or not – is not nice.

  • Aj

    LKL,

    The problem is that he later mocked and ridiculed the woman for failing to meet his expectations. Likewise, you don’t have to be attracted to women with flat chests, but mocking them and treating their condition as something that *no one* could possibly find attractive would be beyond the pale.

    He certainly did not, that is a lie.

  • LKL

    ‘I helped her climb into the car like it was Mt.Everest’ and ‘Did she go up on you’ are mocking statements based on her height. He absolutely did.

    I read this blog fairly regularly, and I know Hemant is generally a nice guy, but he really blew it with this.

  • yonatron

    Yeah, what LKL said. Just using the word “midget” is neither here nor there. But he was clearly mocking someone for characteristics over which she has no control. And while there may be something to the fact that she left something out of her profile (I don’t think there’s much to it, but you could try to make a case for it), he glossed over that to crack mean jokes.

    And this post is a classic non-apology.

  • Aj

    LKL,

    ‘I helped her climb into the car like it was Mt.Everest’ and ‘Did she go up on you’ are mocking statements based on her height. He absolutely did.

    The first one is mocking someone’s misfortune that’s caused by their height. The second one is a play on words, it’s observational, not mocking. Unless you think given Hemant a BJ is an awful thing,. Yet the lie is that Hemant mocked and ridiculed someone for failing to meet his expectations, and that he expressed that no one could possibly find them attractive. That was completely pulled from your hole. A damned lie, that’s a terrible false accusation to make.

  • http://www.saintgasoline.com Saint Gasoline

    I remember that back in the day you had written a post about Rob Sherman (I believe that’s the correct name) and how he has used the word “negro,” thus doing harm to the atheist cause. I tried to defend Sherman in that post, because it was rather obvious that he didn’t realize “negro” was a slur and it seemed more like he was simply trying to use a historical term. In that post, I said what matters is not the words people use, but the intentions they put behind them.

    I say the same applies to you. When I heard your talk, I was a bit surprised, and I knew instantly you would probably get a lot of backlash for first of all using the word midget but most of all for seeming to imply dating a little person is somehow wrong. But I knew you were only commenting on the fact that she hid this from you. Similarly, I’d find it a bit awkward if I went on a blind date with someone who showed me a picture of their face, only to realize they have no legs or arms.

    At any rate, though, I think this experience should give everyone pause to consider their reactions to others who may use words that are not politically correct. If you merely villify someone for their language and don’t try to understand their own intentions behind their language use, then you are simply looking for a reason to be offended. And if that’s the case, it’s not hard to find!

  • WCLPeter

    Marisa said:

    I agree with Andrew. Where do we draw the line with disclaimers? Should you be putting whether you have been circumcised on your dating profile just in case it matters to your date? The whole point of dating is getting to know the other person.

    True, the whole point of dating is getting to know someone. But whether or not you’re going to have a successful date is largely determined on if the other party is physically attracted to you.

    It is in a person’s best interest to be as honest as possible on a dating website, so they are better able to weed out those that won’t find them physically attractive, allowing them to have better success in finding long term dating opportunities.

    You don’t need to be intensely personal, a woman can find out my circumcision status when we get that point of the relationship, but you do need to be honest about aspects of your physical appearance that would be blatantly obvious once the person met you. In order to improve my chances of success I would never set up a dating profile without providing the fact that I’m 6’1″ tall, 247 pounds, and have a bit of gut in the middle; it would eliminate women who aren’t into tallish, slightly overweight, guys, saving both of us a large amount of time and potential bad dates.

    It might not also be a bad idea to include some of your habits. If you smoke, drink, or do illicit drugs, put those down too. Some people don’t find those things the least bit attractive, I know I don’t, so again you’d be self selecting and saving yourself a potentially bad date. I’d even recommend putting up a recent, unflattering, photo of yourself.

    Pete…

  • RobL

    Probably an OK story to tell your drinking buddies at the bar, not appropriate for a public forum that then gets posted all over the internet. I really cringed when I heard the video not because I’m overly PC but because as a leading figurehead of movement pushing tolerance you need to set an example. We all screw up from time to time though, lesson learned. Besides, I thought “Vertically Challenged” was the correct term.

  • LKL

    @AJ:
    Clearly I disagree with your interpretation of Hemant’s words; that does not mean that I am lying, or that any of the other (many) people who agree with me are lying. Chill, dude. Go on over to Pharyngula if you think *I* am being harsh about this.

  • AxeGrrl

    WLCPeter wrote:

    It might not also be a bad idea to include some of your habits. If you smoke, drink, or do illicit drugs, put those down too (on your dating website profile). Some people don’t find those things the least bit attractive, I know I don’t, so again you’d be self selecting and saving yourself a potentially bad date.

    Uh huh.

    Saving yourself a bad date and guaranteeing yourself a stint in the big house!

    Some things are best left to being revealed on the 2nd or 3rd date….and in the privacy of one’s own home :)

  • Valerie Kelley

    I understood what you meant with the story: You were surprised and felt awkward because you probably didn’t know quite how to act because you didn’t want the woman to feel uncomfortable, but then she mentioned being on Springer. For me, if anyone had been on Springer that would be something that would nix a second date with them. That show is just full of unclassiness and willfull ignorance. Who doesn’t realize that being on Springer says volumes about your being really strange (and not in a good way)? Yes, it had to be awkward.

    That said, yes it did come across bad. I knew it wasn’t intended that way, but I also knew that lots of people would take it that way. I think this post is reasonable and decent in letting everyone know what you meant and that you didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m sorry about the Little Person who is a reader of this blog whose feelings were hurt. Mine probably would have been too if I were a Little Person. (As an aside, I am very petite at 5’0″ and actually have been mistaken as a Little Person a couple of times. I can also say that many men find small women quite attractive and even go out of their way to date them, so it is patently not true that small people are not found attractive, particularly if they are female.) I hope no other Little People’s feelings were hurt. It has to be difficult to put up with some of the nonsense that they do end up putting up with.

  • cat

    There is something to be said here about priviledge in language. If you were a member of one of these marginalized groups (people of color, LGBT/queer people, people with disabilities) you don’t get to ignore the offensiveness of words that are thrown at you every day to belittle you and demean you as a person. Only people with priviledge are allowed to live under a little rock and not have to hear the litany of hurtful words thrown at you daily. So, when you apologize for using an offensive word, do so knowing that it was you that screwed up by living in your own priviledge, not the people you hurt. Consider how you would feel if someone used a word designed to lock you up in nursing homes/menatal institutions/jail, deny you equal housing, education, etc.

  • nonfictions

    Aw, Hemant. This is why I luv you!

    I’m still not sure if anyone should have to say “btw, I’m a little person” or have a full body shot of themself as their profile picture. And people’s skin color changes from season to season … sometimes tan, sometimes pale white. But I can see how it would be quite the surprise!

    But all in all, I’m glad you wrote this response :)

  • Aj

    cat,

    Consider how you would feel if someone used a word designed to lock you up in nursing homes/menatal institutions/jail, deny you equal housing, education, etc.

    A word designed to lock someone up? A word is a meaning carrier, it can’t lock you up. Any word can be used to demean and belittle, words aren’t the problem. Also, everyone knows that “queer” has a pejorative history and people did much worse to people they called “queer” than locking than up, but you deemed it fit to use. Who gets to decide what words are offensive and what words aren’t?

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    I started leaving a comment, but then it turned into a full post:

    http://www.evolvedrational.com/2009/08/chill-pill-ever-heard-of-it.html

  • cat

    Aj, the word ‘homosexual’ was created by the medical institution in the late eighteen hundreds for the explicit purpose of pathologizing, and criminalizing, LGBT/queer people.

    As to the word queer, Aj, as a queer identified, bisexual, gender fluid individual, I think I know the history of the hurt, and reclaiming of that word. ‘Everyone knows’..jack squat. What about Queer Nation, the HIV AIDS actvism group that coined the slogan “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”? What about the entire field of queer theory? Whether or not reclaiming queer is something positive is not the business of cis hetero’s to decide (just like it’s not the business of whites to decide anything about reclaiming the N-word). I am a person who identifies this way, from within my own community. Like Christine said about the little people community “It is a derogatory term used to oppress and belittle us. I’m glad your friend Ashley is comfortable with it. It is her choice to label herself as she sees fit and if “midget” is okay for her, than okay. That does not make it okay for the rest of the Little People community, however, and with a little digging you’ll find Ashley’s ability to embrace the slur is not overly common in the community as a whole” People in the community/oppressed group get to decide what words offend them. Christine gets to decide whether the term midget offends her, and I get to decide whether word queer offends me. I specifically used LGBT as well to be inclusive of members of my community who felt differently than I do about.

  • http://www.puaforums.com Pick Up Lines

    I think you are completely justified in expecting someone to be honest before meeting. I mean do they think they are that scintillating that leaving something out about themselves/or describing themselves inaccurately will be OK. It just isn’t the best way to start off a relationship because any relationship needs to be based on honesty to succeed.

  • http://www.publicspeakingforyou.com Speak Out

    We are all human and I think people arent always honest as they are scared of being rejected. Even relationships that start in person are not always honest from the beginning. Do you tell your partner all your bad habits straight up? If not is that lying?


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