We can learn from Trump
Steve Martin's 140-char eulogy for Carrie Fisher gave us a way to grow in the age of permissibility brought about by Trump.
by Dave Winer Sunday, January 8, 2017

This post came from a thread on Facebook started by David Weinberger where he asked if there would be any poets at the Trump inaugural. I decided to take it seriously. What would a poet say? This is what I imagined I would say if given a chance. 

You know all that talk about political correctness?

Yes, I know it's a dog whistle for racism. I know. But there's also a problem that it points to, and it's worth looking at, not passing over.

Consider an example, how Steve Martin eulogized Carrie Fisher on Twitter:

"When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well."

The thought police swooped in and took him apart for saying she was a beautiful creature. Men, apparently aren't supposed to think that about women, even when that's pretty much exactly as she was presenting herself to the world at the time. His fault was telling the truth. And it's something that when said by a woman about a man is considered liberating. Too often we impose really harsh judgement when we could choose not to. This is one of those times, with Martin's innocent expression, to have taken the high road. But people sense vulnerability, and they hit him hard.

Trump has taken advantage of this mistake, but there's an element of truth to what he says, there is too much political correctness in our world, it's stifling and often unnecessary, an expression of power that helps no one, and of course Trump pushes it way too far. 

In my younger days, when I was skinny and fit and full of success and youthful optimism, I loved it when women treated me as if I was a beautiful creature, especially older women, in appreciation of my sexuality. It was nice to not have to say a word and still be desired. 

I have enough women friends to know that in the right context they too like the feeling of being sexually appealing.

Some things like racial hate should be covered up, not shared publicly and criticized when it shows up. But this was love, not hate and it was in a eulogy for a person whose sexuality was something she offered openly and publicly. If you think Carrie Fisher wasn't selling her sexuality you and I live on different planets. Martin merely said that, as a young man, he appreciated it. B.F.D.

BTW, it's possible that Martin was really saying that he slept with her, and then they became friends. That's how I interpreted what he said. 

Now we have a government taking office that is seriously dangerous where Steve Martin's comment wasn't dangerous at all. We need to learn the difference. Decide if he meant well, if what he was saying came from love, appreciation and grief, at the passing of a friend and if so, cut him some slack, learn not to object. 

In this case the change that needs to happen is not with Martin but with the world he lives in.