The World Series has finally wrapped up and while the Houston Astros fell to the Atlanta Braves in six games last week, there is still one bit of unfinished business for the season. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asked Major League Baseball to make an adjustment to not the term “bullpen,” but rather use the term “arm barn” instead. PETA argues that a bullpen was originally used to store cattle prior to slaughter – something PETA is against for obvious reasons. We’ll completely gloss over how PETA glossed over the 55,000 pseudo-racist fans in the stands in Atlanta doing the Tomahawk Chop chant which indigenous American Indians mostly feel has racist connotations. But hey, bullpen.
I listened to a lot of Rush Limbaugh growing up and one of the things he liked to say is that words mean things. And that’s true. Bullpen, to me, means a place where overpriced 6.81 ERA pitchers hang out waiting to give up a big home run to Jim Thome. But I can certainly understand how some might consider it a slur or at least a holding ground where beautiful ribeye steaks are made.
Words mean things. This also reared its head recently after the term “Let’s Go Brandon” began trending on Twitter. What, you might ask yourself, does that innocuous phrase mean? Well, apparently, it means “F*** Joe Biden.” How you get there from Let’s Go Brandon is a bit of a walk, to be sure. But it has been picked up by right-wing fans as a cheeky way to show your feelings about national politics while also keeping it G-rated.
I’ve always been more of a “rubber” not “glue” kind of guy. Bullpen bounces off of me the same way Let’s Go Brandon does. So does the Tomahawk Chop and the “Home of the CHIEFS” at the end of the National Anthem. Now, it might color my reaction to you, or better inform me that you might be a jerk or a good guy. But simply using a colorful term isn’t going to disqualify you from asking me about my car’s extended warranty.
Recently, the comedian Dave Chappelle was heavily criticized for his recent comedy performance where he was critical of the trans community. Hearing his set, he certainly had strong opinions on a lot of things. It wasn’t his set that disappointed me. It was that he seemed unwilling to sit down and talk with the people that he impacted after they asked.
You see, in addition to Rush Limbaugh, I also am a fan of the Abraham Lincoln quote, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt – It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid.”
Nearly all hurtful words are said simply to elicit a harmful response. And 100% of the motivation for that attention is ignorance. Ignorance is at its peak right now with the ability to say half-baked, uneducated things and those comments reaching around the world. What is at a premium right now are listeners and learners. It’s gotten too easy to say stupid things without hearing the consequences of those actions. We even use euphemisms like cheering on Brandon to make that even easier.
For me, call it whatever you want — arm barn, bullpen, gum chewer’s island, or even Briarcliff West. At the risk of insulting pork, that’s only putting lipstick on a pig. You want to really hit me? Ask me why I’m offended and let’s work together to figure out a way forward.
(Figure it out with Chris Kamler on Twitter, where you can find him as @TheFakeNed)