A few years back, I was taking the train home one night. I had my earbuds on, presumbly listening to a podcast. My earbuds (then and now) were not extremely effective; even when turning them near maximum volume, I can barely hear the podcast over the roar of the train.
Someone was a bit louder than the train, however. About twenty feet from me, a 50s-ish, bedraggled white guy ("bedraggled" being a kinder euphemism for "bum") was yammering loudly on the train. Not that abnormal, of course; crazy bums are everywhere in Chicago, and most pick up enough coin to take public transportation. This guy's words were a little more worrisome, however: he was railing against Ronald Reagan (in 2008), while loosing the N-bomb with alarming frequency.
I paused my iPod and looked around: I was the only other white guy on the train. No Hispanics, either. Every passenger in that train car was black. All could hear the crazy guy, and they sported the same look on their faces: I'm ready to go to bed. Seriously: if they were offended, they didn't show it. Why should they? It's just another crazy bum on the train.
That memory pops up in my head when I read about the outrage at former child star Kirk Cameron's anti-gay comments, or talk-radio commentator Rush Limbaugh's various anti-everything comments. Or ex-comedienne Victoria Jackson's comments. Or Patricia Heaton's. Or whoever is spouting this week. When you get right down to it, what's the difference between them and a crazy bum on the train?
It's sad when, because one has been touched with a certain amount of fame, their words - no matter how racist, sexist, or just plain stupid - is offered the ears and eyes of millions, when those words don't even merit more than an eyeroll on a city train.