Can’t tell you how many times I heard those words uttered to me when I was a kid in primary
GO HOME YOU GREASY WOG.
I didn’t learn the term WASP until I was in high school. And that’s probably a good thing; because I would have thrown a WASPy slur back at these kids.
And why isn’t it a good thing to throw slurs about? Because nothing good ever comes of it.
I was hurt and confused being called a wog. But I really didn’t know what to do about it.
Teachers would just tell kids to stop teasing with a dismissive waving of the hand and my parents would tell me to not go near the “Aussie” kids if they were teasing me. Hardly a solution.
Even though in my primary school there were plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of kids who were born to migrant parents we weren’t smart enough to group together; to be a force to be reckoned with.
We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t even know what racism was to be honest. So we didn’t know to call it out when we heard it. And the flip side to that coin is that we could have so easily have guilty of it ourselves.
My kids these days know exactly what racism is. They are not likely to suffer from it because fortunately for them Australia has moved on from being suspicious of people with Greek or Italian surnames. But my kids know what it is and are careful to not use words that could be deemed racist.
And that’s not because of some sort of school directive. It’s because of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Section 18C does more than provide a legal framework; it provides an overall tone of the type of society people want to live in.
And isn’t that what we try to do everyday? Make this world a little nicer for everyone to live in.
Maybe creating ‘a nicer world’ does need a little social engineering to change the way people interact with each other. So maybe we need to put limitations in place. Because rights after all aren’t about what you are allowed to do; rights are what you are free from.
There are worse things in the world than having to stop and think about what you are going to say and how it might affect someone.
My children’s freedom of speech has not been stifled because they don’t know of a time where racial slurs in the playground were commonplace. It’s like their brain just doesn’t even go there now.
We place limitations on our children everyday. That’s how they learn what it means to function in a harmonious society.
Kids don’t understand subtleties. And without the breadth of knowledge and experience they certainly don’t understand context. What is offensive, insulting, humiliating and intimidating?
So to my mind, perhaps kids shouldn’t be allowed to have shades of grey. They just don’t get it. It’s not a fault of theirs; just an indication of their maturity.
As my children grow and become a little more aware of what’s happening in the world then we can discuss at length the issues of free speech, racial vilification, progressive thought, progressive societies.
That’s when shades of grey come into discussion.
But as a friend pointed out to me last night, sometimes policies can’t accurately reflect the nuances of human beings. It’s an interesting thought.
Read more here.
And this is my own piece I wrote for The Big Smoke