Pierced? Get out of America! [The Publisher’s Ring]

Pierced? Get out of America!

“The more restrictions and prohibitions in the world, the poorer people get.”

- Lao Tzu

In her opinion piece “How to win at the game that is America(LINK), Erin Simovic writes that those with piercings and tattoos are “simply not in their right minds”, make no contributions to society, “look like circus members from the underworld”, and are losers who are not fit to be a part of America. This is far from the first moronic article that Ms. Erin “whatever happened to good old-fashioned courting” Simovic has written, but it shines of hatred trying to hide behind a banal smile, her apparent hallmark as a journalist.

She begins, as Rommel did before her, by insulting her subjects, but somehow trying to justify it with an “honest, I’m cool” footnote, which instead serves simply to illustrate how lacking her understanding is.

“Spiky, multicolored hair, chains, studs, piercings, face paint, you name it. It’s the scarifying of America, powered by celebrities like Marilyn Manson. Okay, I know what you’re thinking — sheltered little suburban girl totally out of touch with reality — but you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m hip. I read the Sears catalog. I’m so totally in touch with the kids of today.”

Leveling out at a simpleton’s “gross, I hate you”, Simovic never manages to do anything but string together a series of shallowly hidden insults —

“...those strange city-dwellers who feel compelled to express themselves with bizarre fashion choices. I am being polite, mind you. I would have used ‘freakish,’ but I figured that wouldn’t be politically correct.”

That’s like me saying, “Erin Simovic has poor comprehension skills that are further masked by her xenophobia. I would have said that Erin Simovic was a stupid hateful bitch and it’s people like her who make ‘white’ an insult, but that would be rude.” The underlying point is clear, is it not? Just because you’re smiling when you insult someone doesn’t mean the insult wasn’t real.

Erin Simovic, Oregon State’s own Betty Bowers.

Photo: The Barometer

She goes on to clarify that she doesn’t get it with whiney remarks like “why would anyone in his right mind choose to alienate themselves”, and then punctuates them with further insults. She bitterly writes, “these individuals either want to rebel from society or are simply not in their right minds — I tend to lean toward the latter myself.”

She continues, and after a jab about how no one looking like this would ever be a “Miss America contestant”, demands that people with piercings and tattoos make “real efforts to change what they don’t like about society” instead of making buffoons of themselves by wearing “a studded dog collar”. Perhaps she has never been to a protest, or a meeting of environmental activists, and noted the sheer bulk of piercings and tattoos in attendance? If anything, statistically those with body modifications and “nonconforming fashions” are far more likely to be socially progressive and politically active. After a bit more whining and belittling of others she comes right out and says that she believes that the goal of those with piercings and tattoos is to “destroy society”, an opinion so ludicrously removed from reality that one has to start seriously questioning Ms. Simovic’s lucidity.

She goes on to say that those with piercings, tattoos, and unusual fashions aren’t “playing the game”. As a conclusion, she decides that America isn’t ideal for the modified, and that America “will never be for you” if you have piercings and tattoos — a bold statement, given that many would hold that America embraces freedom of expression, and that the wonderful thing about America is that you can do whatever you want as long as it’s not hurting anyone else. (In theory anyway).

I’m not so deluded that I think people should have to like body modification, or that people should be punished if they make hateful bigoted statements like Ms. Simovic does. But I do think that we need to ask ourselves exactly what’s going on when a newspaper publishes articles which serve one goal alone — the dissemination of hatred. This column isn’t “funny” or “witty”. It isn’t “insightful” or even “social commentary” on any level. It’s just an excuse for Ms. Simovic to broadcast her bigotry, and it’s very sad that Oregon State’s Barometer feels this is how it wants to represent itself and the students of Oregon State. I realize that ultimately it is an “opinion” piece, and she certainly has the right to her opinion, but as a journalist she also has a greater duty to a balanced truth.

Let me make it simple: If you don’t like piercings, don’t get piercings and don’t hang out with pierced people. If you don’t like Muslims (I’ll refrain from theorizing as to Ms. Simovic’s feelings about those of color), don’t adopt Islam as your personal faith and don’t hang out with Muslims. But don’t think that your dislike and personal hatreds, coupled with free speech, makes it somehow “ok” for you to broadcast what a horrible person you are, and try and have others adopt your hatreds as well. It might be legal, but it’s definitely not ethical. America — and the modern world in general — is about a myriad of different people getting along and integrating. It’s not about the destruction of other people’s ideas and the eventual creation of a homogenous culture, and it’s not about one esthetic betting superior to another — it’s about a rainbow of different ideas getting along in a rich human fabric.

It’s very sad that Erin Simovic would choose to supplant that with her own boring, bitter, and repressive worldview, and even sadder that a newspaper would see fit to help her broadcast those attacks.

Shannon Larratt

The article in question, “How to win at the game that is America” can be found online at http://barometer.orst.edu/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/01/06/3ffae8b99ea61 and Simovic may be reached by email at baro.forum@studentmedia.orst.edu.

After seeing the feedback her article generated, Ms. Simovic posted,

After reading all this feedback, I am very sorry for what I wrote, I will look at tattooed and pierced people with more respect from now on and not base their characteristics on what decorations they choose to put on themselves.

To be honest, I actually find tattooed guys nicer than non tattooed guys because they are able to express their feelings easier, and also they are better in bed. I would know because I am one of those 'been around the block' chicks ;)

Many readers continued to decry her article, not taking her apology as particularly serious. Katie replied,

You once again generalize by saying that you find tattooed guys to be nicer, able to express their feelings better, and "better in bed." Then you go on to boast about your "promiscuous" lifestyle... maybe you don't approve of my ten piercings, but don't expect me to applaud you for being a whore.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

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