humanity / Meandering

Meandering Monday about Appropriating Offense

We have enough problems in life. Do people just NEED a reason to be offended?

I remember an episode of Laugh-In (yes, I’m dating myself) when they decided to get away from ethnic jokes. I may have the exact details off, but they were trying to tell a joke couched in the traditional “a <blank> walks into a bar” format, and finally decided that the only way they could safely tell the joke was if they told it about a Pygmy Eskimo – after all, who would be offended then? So they’re performing the skit, and darned if a Pygmy Eskimo doesn’t show up and put the kibosh on the joke.

I grew up in a bygone era – when bygones could be bygones. Ethnic jokes were considered standard fare, and if it bugged you that the Irishman was telling jokes about your Italian ancestry, you could just go right back and tell one about the Irish to even things up. When I was in junior high, my math teacher Mr. Sullivan used to make fun of Italians in class (Mangieri is an Italian surname), so I would shoot right back with jokes about the Irish (because Sullivan…) I was never REALLY offended, but of course, it probably helped my attitude that I was BOTH Irish and Italian, in equal parts – the actual, not too scientific breakdown is ¼ Irish, 1/8 English, 1/8 Scottish, ¼ Italian, ¼ Sicilian (do NOT try to put Italian and Sicilian together as the same thing – you’ll offend the Italians and Sicilians.)

When The Godfather first came out in theaters in 1972, there were Italian heritage organizations protesting outside the theaters (Sons of Italy?) because of the depiction of Italians as gangsters. (You know, with the defaming being done of everyone in history here lately, Columbus has taken more than his fair share. There should be Sons of Italy protesting the stereotyping of Columbus as an evil European invader.)

I doubt that any of us is pure anything (we could prove that with one of those genealogical DNA tests.) but we still insist on categorizing not only others, but ourselves into a demographic box. Why? Is the only way we can be different to be the same as everyone else in that box? If you really want to be distinguished from others, how about just being YOURSELF? We’re all individuals first and foremost, and should be treated as such (remember – Dr. King’s DREAM was that we would all be judged by the content of our character, NOT the color of our skin.)

Maybe we wouldn’t be so easily offended if we stopped trying to separate ourselves into tribes (and if you’re not the one separating yourself, maybe you can figure out who IS so we can put a stop to it.)

I can sort of understand the upset caused by taking a character of one race/pigmentation and giving the part to someone who isn’t in that demographic, but part of acting IS to – pretend you are/portray – someone you are not. Also, how can you put yourself inside someone else’s skin without – putting yourself in someone else’s skin? And when an audience sees someone who looks more like them slip into that other life, does it help them understand people who are different from them a little better? Maybe that’s a good thing for bringing understanding…

Writing is an exploration of self, as well as of THE OTHER. I write about people who are sometimes like me, but are often totally alien (sometimes literally ALIEN) I have a frustration when looking for markets to submit to, when the writer’s guidelines for a publisher seem to be focused on what the author’s demographic is, while the quality of the story is secondary. More and more, there is an attitude that only a Pygmy Eskimo can write about Pygmy Eskimos. That sort of kills the notion of me as a writer exploring what it’s like to be another, doesn’t it?

The protection of free speech isn’t needed for things we all agree with – it’s there to allow discussion of differing and often uncomfortable points of view. Put on your big boy pants – try to assume positive intent before you jump on the I’M OFFENDED bandwagon because someone said something you don’t like, or because you think someone has culturally appropriated you. Yeah, sometimes people are just being insensitive jerks, but mostly, we’re all just HUMAN BEINGS (hard to see it sometimes, but believe it or not, we all have that in common.) We have enough differences without creating more barriers to understanding each other.

Just saying…


William Mangieri has written several pieces of short fiction, but he also has two series of short stories.

The first series is Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire; the inaugural story – “Purr Mission”, won him the first of his Honorable Mentions in the Writers


New, more consistent cover

of the Future contest.

Major Tom’s dander is up. His cub is dying of the Morient Virus, and this cat knows that the Ramses Empire’s sworn enemies (the deceitful feline Baastards!) are responsible, but bureaucats have ordered him not to go to their planet to recover the antidote. Well, it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask purrmission. Ready for heroism, space, spies, and lives in the balance? Read “Purr Mission.”

“Purr Mission” can be found FOR FREE at various retailers, including, but not limited to:



(AND – there’s also a link inside for the opportunity to receive “Nipped in the Butt” – the 2nd Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire tale – for FREE as well!)

His second series is Detective Jimmy Delaney, with “In a Flash” as the first story.In A Flash-2200Cover-White

Jimmy was a good cop, but age and changing times were getting the better of him. If he could only get an edge – what would be the harm? I mean, everybody cheats a little, don’t they? Read “In a Flash” to see Jimmy get himself out of trouble.

“In a Flash” can be found at several online retailers for FREE, including, but not limited to:



Go out and give them both a read (and a review would be appreciated, too – thanx!)


The Etaeren sorceror Svaerd destroyed the Aurae Council in his quest to take the power of Taernfeld for himself. He almost succeeded in his designs, but was defeated by the council’s lone survivor. Trapped withinSwordsmaster4 a haeld-sword, he plots his escape.

For four-hundred years, magic has been outlawed by Tor-Haval. Sandrik is the first bright-eye to be seen in Caladon in living memory, and he doesn’t want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he keeps his special abilities hidden. But there is more to Sandrik than even he knows. Now he is about to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld to be declared a man, but another fate awaits him. Will he escape it?

My novel Swordsmaster is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:




William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction, and his eighty-or-so short stories and collections can be found in many places, including , but not limited to:
• Smashwords:
• His Amazon Author page:
• Barnes & Noble:

• His site on WordPress:
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:
• His Goodreads author page:
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

You can also subscribe to his email list HERE

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