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GROB: Expressing ‘outrage’ over razors and burgers

By James Grob,

People are outraged.

Or so they tell us.

Yesterday, I saw an advertisement that purported to be about razor blades, although it didn’t seem to have anything to do with razor blades to me.

It was about 45 seconds long and addressed issues like bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. It deftly worked in images of men and boys displaying what was obviously bad behavior, integrating images of other men and boys displaying good behavior.

We believe in the best in men,” said the voice-over. “To say the right thing. To act the right way.”

James Grob
James Grob

The intent, it seems to me, is to encourage men to not behave like jerks — and to lead by example and show other men, and our children, how not to behave like jerks. Don’t excuse bad behavior by brushing it off and repeating the unimaginative “boys will be boys” cliche.

I still haven’t figured out where razor blades fit in, but it seemed like a decent, thoughtful message to me.

However, the essential directive, “don’t be an awful person,” was apparently too much to ask of some folks. The commercial sparked a wave of “outrage.” Many decried the commercial as “offensive to men.” Some even called for a mass boycott of the company.

Outraged? Over a little razor blade commercial? OK, sure.

The NCAA Champion Clemson football team visited the White House earlier this week, which is traditional. With the U.S. Government under partial shutdown, there were not enough people available to prepare and serve the team a dinner.

So the president decided to buy huge piles of fast-food burgers and pizza, paid for out of his own pocket, and told the players to help themselves.

That’s not traditional, and it seems silly. Most of the players didn’t seem to mind; a few grumbled about it. The food sat there for quite some time and got cold before anyone had a bite. Cold fast food isn’t a culinary delight. The whole episode was good fodder for jokes from late-night comedians.

A whole lot of people said they were outraged about it, though. The editorial pages of major publications, cable news hosts and internet postings all expressed unhinged anger over the situation.

To me, it doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing to get that worked up about. The NCAA champs got served a lousy meal. A prime rib dinner would have been nice, for sure, but they’re still the NCAA champs, they still got to visit the White House, and now they’ll have a cool story to tell for the rest of their lives, about how the billionaire president bought them burgers.

Meanwhile, a freshman congresswoman called the billionaire president a dirty word earlier this month. There has been plenty of outrage directed toward her, and although I honestly wish people in the public eye would conduct themselves with better manners, and raise the level of discourse, I don’t find myself becoming outraged.

Perhaps that has something to with the fact that I’ve heard the man who is now president publicly use dirty words and call people childish names time and time again over the last 30 years — all the way up to this past week. There aren’t many people more responsible than he is for the coarsening of our culture.

I know, two wrongs don’t make a right — but turnabout is fair play — so when someone uses a potty mouth to insult the king of potty mouths, it doesn’t ruffle my feathers all that much.

Meanwhile, our own congressman, Steve King, essentially told a major publication this month that he didn’t understand why being known as a white nationalist or a white supremacist is a bad thing. This would probably be outrageous to me, if it weren’t for the fact that the congressman has said things far dumber than that over and over again for the last 16 years or so, and our friends and neighbors keep electing the guy, over and over again. It seems a little late to be outraged now.

I tend to get annoyed about things, but not outraged, so it’s hard for me to believe people who claim they are outraged. I sometimes think they’re faking it — or maybe they’re a little unstable and need help.

I have a friend, who I grew up with, who now works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He defends our borders. He doesn’t work on the Mexican border, he works on the Canadian border.

When everyone talks about border security they talk about the southern border — but the northern border is just as important.

My friend’s primary job is to protect our country from terrorists, illegal aliens, illegal weapons and illegal drugs. It’s just as much a priority in Minnesota as it is in Texas. He trained hard and he works hard.

Because of the government shutdown, he hasn’t been paid for his work since before Christmas, but he still goes in, every day, and does it. He has a wife and kids and a home. He has all the same bills you and I have, and has to figure out how to pay them.

He is not a politically outspoken person, and is not in any way responsible for the shutdown. He loves his country and doesn’t bad mouth its leaders — essentially his bosses — even when he disagrees with them. He’s too responsible. He doesn’t complain about the situation he’s in, at least not to me. In fact, he’s very optimistic, and quick to tell me not to worry, there are a lot of folks worse off than he is.

He knows that when the shutdown ends, he is supposed to receive back pay, but that’s not a certainty — and there’s no telling when the shutdown will end. I don’t know how he’s making ends meet in the meantime.

I love my old friend, and there’s nothing I can do to help him right now.

But if I were the kind of person who got outraged, I think that might be the kind of thing I’d get outraged about.