Filled with the Holiday spirit, I decided to do some last minute shopping for my lovely bride. Walking across the store parking lot, I couldn’t help but smile at the array of Christmas shirts that caught my eye, each festooned with images and phrases celebrating this special time of year.
And then I saw it coming toward me … a garish red, white and blue tee-shirt with the words “Let’s Go Brandon” and three large letters … “FJB” … emblazoned on the front. My immediate thought (which I kept to myself) was another three letter acronym … WTF?
For those unfamiliar with the message on this gentleman’s shirt, the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” is smokescreen for a vulgar insult directed at President Joe Biden (you can look it up). And the letters “FJB” … well, you can use your imagination as to what they stand for.
By the way, I am not asserting a particular political stance here … there is, after all, ample evidence that fools, regardless of party affiliation, populate government in equal measure. Instead, I am simply expressing wonderment and dismay at the thoughtlessness of someone who, clearly, has a bone to pick with our electoral process, while caring not a whit about others who might be offended by his sartorial messaging. Thinking about this fellow’s audacious display I would guess that, if confronted, he would argue that he, himself, was offended by the outcome of the last election so, when it comes to his shirt, well, we can all just deal with it.
No doubt, my opinion on this matter puts me in jeopardy of being labelled a “snowflake.” For those unfamiliar with the vocabulary of online trolls and purveyors of hate speech, that word no longer applies only to frozen precipitation that falls during the winter … today, a “snowflake” is someone thought to be overly sensitive and prone to taking offense. If so accused, I know many will come to my defense pointing out my habit of uttering the occasional mild expletive or even conjuring up the random unspoken profanity (see “WTF” above).
So what’s the big deal? When it is all said and done, this was only a tee-shirt, after all, and we all have far more important issues to deal with … right?
Perhaps, but consider this. Navigating the offensive and oft-profane world in which we reside requires that we call upon a range of coping strategies to get through the day. For example, we avoid “doom scrolling” on the Internet … we know and respect the difference between rudeness and humor … we avoid exposure to fringe news sources … and we call out and reject ignorance and hate speech. But then, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves face-to-face with – and unable to ignore – the very thing we have been struggling to avoid.
In the parking lot that day, I simply shook my head, sighed, and walked on, secure in the knowledge that if ignorance is bliss, “tee-shirt dude” must be the happiest person alive. Or, as Albert Einstein once said:
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.