All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice.

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Send your Friday mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.

Here we go:

Brad writes:

“I’m curious if you’ve seen this Gillette ad essentially putting the onus of the world’s problems on the shoulders of men. I don’t understand the marketing strategy of demonizing your target market. After I’ve been successfully shamed for being male is my next step to go out and buy Gillette? What genius came up with this?

The only thing I can think of is like when companies began targeting kids in commercials because they were watching tv and directing where the parents’ money was going, Gillette has calculated that women are doing this type of shopping and if they can get the wives/girlfriends to grab it off the shelf, the men won’t object and they’ll keep using their product. Just seems like a bold strategy to shame the very people you’re “targeting” in your commercial.”

I think you’re right — this ad has to be addressed at women, who probably buy the majority of men’s shaving products.

My wife said she liked the ad and it would make her more likely to buy Gillette products.

Here’s my issue with it in general — there’s a legitimate war on men that is taking place right now in modern media society. White men are the primary target, but men in general are also targeted. There’s a belief that traditional masculine values are wrong and I fundamentally reject that notion.

I also don’t understand how we can live in a society where everyone is supposed to be treated equally and not judged based on characteristics they’re born with i.e. having a penis but men are evil. Can you imagine if a women’s focused company made an ad ripping everything bad women have ever done and lectured women that they could do better? It would be called horribly sexist and the ad would be disallowed almost immediately. So why is it okay to label all men as being responsible for the poor actions of a comparatively small minority?

I also reject the idea that men are dominating everything and we live in some sort of unfair patriarchy.

For instance, has anyone paid attention to what’s happening with schools? Women are dominating college and graduate degrees and many men are being left behind by society. If everything is slanted in men’s favor, why are women crushing men in schools? (Even my law school class had more women than men). I think what’s happened is our society has gone to war with masculinity and I think many men — and even more commonly young boys — are suffering as a result.

The classroom is slanted in favor of young girls and women now. Can you imagine the outrage we’d see if men were still receiving nearly 60% of all degrees? Well, guess what, women are receiving nearly 60% of all college degrees now.

Furthermore I just fundamentally reject the idea that every single company has to take sides in every single political issue. I don’t want to have to think about what my toilet paper company thinks about abortion when I’m wiping my ass and I suspect most of you agree.

Just make your damn product the best it can possibly be and sell me on why I should buy it.

If you aren’t watching or listening to my daily Outkick the Show on Periscope and Facebook, you should be. Here’s my take on this in more detail:

Essentially I have a wild idea — I think most men are pretty good, but some men are idiots deserving of ridicule. I think that’s true for both sexes and I think it’s true of most races too.

So why are men being uniquely targeted as evil right now?

Nathan writes:

“I’m considered an essential worker meaning I have to work without pay during the government shutdown.  I am in good shape compared to some (100K+ for over 10 years now).  We have savings, and should easily qualify for a zero percent loan through our Credit Union if it goes on too long.  The worst part of it for me is not being to take any time off and actually having to work more hours in order to pick up duties that our Administrative staff (who are not allowed to work).  Morale in the office is terrible as you could imagine.  …and to pour salt in the wound those of us who are financial in an OK place can’t legally  help our coworkers who aren’t.

My question is, I am considering all options including just quitting and suing the government for not paying me.  It seems like any lawyer would jump at this case, I mean you can’t expect workers to work indefinitely without pay.  What if Wal-Mart tried something like that? 

Would you represent me Clay?”

No, because I’m not that sympathetic to government workers, honestly.

First, you’re going to get paid eventually for your work, this is just a matter of when your paycheck is deposited. So the entire concept of working “without pay” isn’t true. You’re just working on a different pay schedule than normal.

Second, and this is amazing to me, the furloughed workers, those not working at all, will eventually get paid for when they were furloughed. You read that right, everyone who isn’t working right now will eventually get paid what they would have made when the shutdown ends even though you didn’t have to work.

So government workers have essentially been given a one month paid vacation.

Who among us right now wouldn’t sign up for a full month off of work if the only catch was we’d have to miss a few regular paycheck deposits in the process? Again, the only inconvenience here is the paycheck will hit a month or two later than it ordinarily would. I mean, this sounds like a hell of a deal. I’d love to get furloughed off my radio and TV shows and still make all the same money I would otherwise.

I’d sign up for this in a heartbeat.

I was texting with a buddy of mine who is a government employee and he’s hoping the shutdown goes on forever. He thinks it’s incredible. And who wouldn’t? As long as you’ve been smart enough not to live paycheck to paycheck you’re golden here. And even if you lived paycheck to paycheck, it’s not like you’re unemployed, eventually you’re going to get paid again so you should be able to manage your finances if you have credit cards. This idea of hardship is, I think, insanely overplayed in the media.

Does it suck to have to work and not get paid on your regular two week pay schedule? Sure. Should it really be that big of a deal if you’re a reasonably competent person? No.

Third, how is it that there are nonessential federal government employees? This is crazy to me. If you’re nonessential why are my tax dollars paying your salary? Every nonessential federal government job shouldn’t exist. Am I crazy for thinking this? If the government can continue to work fine without you then you’re unnecessary and should go find another job.

Randy writes:

“I know that you started your career working in Puerto Rico and I have a question for you. My wife and I are considering moving to PR, largely for tax purposes. Our kids are grown and out of the house, and my job is one where I can largely work remotely without interruption. PR has a program called Act 20/Act 22 that would effectively allow me to pay 4% total income taxes rather than the 40%+ state and federal I pay now. (There are some caveats but that’s the short story). So I can move to PR and increase my income dramatically while experiencing a different culture for a few years. I also know that things are rough in PR and the recovery is very slow. Based on your experience living there, and in general, any reason not to give this a try for a few years?”

I actually started my career working in the United State Virgin Islands as a lawyer, but the tax benefits are the same and the two islands are very close so I spent quite a bit of time in Puerto Rico. My wife and I absolutely loved San Juan. It’s a beautiful city with fantastic beaches and a very welcoming culture.

We haven’t been back since the hurricane so I can’t speak to how things are there now, but so long as you prepare for inconveniences — things move on island time, not American mainland time so when something isn’t working it stays not working for a long time and that can be frustrating — I don’t know why more Americans who can work from home wouldn’t consider moving there.

Honestly, I’ve thought about doing Outkick from the islands again.

I can do my radio show and TV show from anywhere. Clearly, as long as I have wifi I can also write and talk with Outkick anywhere too.

If we didn’t have kids I’d probably live in the Caribbean a decent amount of the year, especially in the winter.

If you can do it, why wouldn’t you?

David writes:

“Given the recent “wokeness” and extreme one-sidedness of many members of the sports media and national media in general I wanted your take on this recent experience. Why do you believe the obvious double standard is considered to be acceptable behavior?

Backstory: I live in a medium sized town and every so often I attend the local independent league hockey games in the downtown area. 

While attending a game last Friday night I noticed a large group of people who were mixed races although predominately African American men aged 18-30 giving some of the players absolute hell. While I usually find heckling, if done right, to be very funny considering what this group was yelling I found it to be very interesting.

Some of the things that were being yelled at these players seemed to be targeted as “slurs” or attempts to “make fun of” the Canadian born players heritage. While I do not believe that any of the players, predominately Canadian born Caucasians, were the least bit offended, I couldn’t help but to think to myself here, what if the roles were reversed?

For example the group of fans were making fun of and using in a derogatory context things that stereotype Canadians. They were chanting things such as “Tim Horton’s”, “maple syrup”, “snow ball fight”, as well as, saying the word “about”, but pronouncing it as “aboot” and using the “eh” phrase in excess.  Again, I do not think this even remotely offended anybody, but clearly it was an attempt to make fun of the Canadian culture.

Here is my question. What if a group of Caucasian folks when to an NBA game and in a drunken fashion yelled out terms such as “chicken wings”, “Kool-Aid”, or “rap music” in an attempt to make fun of the African American culture. Could you imagine the outrage? What are your thoughts? Why is it acceptable for one nationality to make an attempt to demean the other while the other nationality would be absolutely crucified for doing the same?

P.S. I am an African American male.”

The first distinction here is that there’s no history of discrimination of Canadians based on their being from Canada. Whereas there is a history of discrimination of black people in this country based on their being black. So there isn’t the same legacy of discrimination at play in these examples of heckling and you aren’t comparing two exact situations.

Having said that I think you’ve hit on what I consider to be an interesting aspect of modern society. Namely that we’ve primarily addressed most issues of clear and present discrimination and racism and now police the perimeter of the issue. This is how we’ve moved from a universe where direct racism was confronted to one of systemic racism — it’s so systemic you can’t even see it!

How do we police the issue of racism in this country now? Primarily by attacking the word choice of others.

In fifty years we’ve moved from an era when civil rights protesters were physically assaulted based on their race and their demand for equal rights to one in which mostly racism is about what words people use. (There are still examples of overt and violent racism in this country, but they are as rare as shark attacks now. They happen, but our media so magnifies their occurrence that we believe they are far more common than they actually are.)

So what does our modern society spend most of its time fixated on instead? By attacking behavior that while it may hurt feelings isn’t an overt physical threat. That is, we’ve moved from preventing violence against people based on their race, gender and ethnicity to primarily focusing on preventing hurt feelings against people based on their race, gender, and ethnicity.

Of late we’ve even expanded the notion of harm to include things that aren’t even directly demeaning, but instead are considered microaggressions. Who decides what a microaggression is? The aggrieved individual.

My belief is that in so doing we have conditioned the youngest generation in our society to believe that words themselves, standing alone and without threat of physical violence, are in fact violent behavior that have to be combated. This is why I believe the first amendment in many ways is under assault. People are so afraid of being attacked for what they say that they shut up and the marketplace of ideas is stifled. The societal goal here is a good one — end racism or sexism or homophobia! — but the policing of words isn’t helpful to the cause and I think it’s actually perpetuated a constant status of victimhood.

Worse than that, we’ve created a culture that praises the victim and makes them a hero.

That is, if someone does something bad to you, you’re the hero by having that bad thing done to you. And we now have different victims fighting with each other to attain the highly sought after prize of the highest level of victimization. Witness the recent cancellation of the women’s march after the women began feuding over which groups of people were the most victimized. (This has also led to controversy over who marches for the victims. Left wing white people love marching for people of color. White people on the left now compete to be the wokest and to hate other white people the most. It’s really incredible to see.)

When I was a kid no one wanted to be a victim. We were taught to stand up to bullies and not let them push us around. Now kids that are bullied are taught they’re heroic for being victims and are told not to stand up for themselves and to seek out an adult to protect them. I’m not in favor of bullying, but I am in favor of children maintaining their agency and standing up for themselves rather than constantly seeing themselves as victims and seeking out an adult to protect them.

I don’t claim to know what the solution is, but I’m convinced we’ve created a society which in seeking to overprotect others primarily from words, we’ve created larger issues.

Let me give you an analogy, kids today have an insane amount of allergies now that they didn’t have throughout most of human history. Why do experts say this has happened? Because we expose kids to much less antigens in their environments today which makes their immune systems less effective. The result? Peanut allergies, for example, have exploded in modern day American society.

It turns out the best way to protect kids from peanut allergies isn’t to keep them away from peanuts when they’re young it’s to expose them to peanuts at a young age and teach their immune systems to overcome those antigens when they are young. That is, the single best way to ensure that kids don’t have peanut allergies is to expose them to peanuts. To put the danger, as it were, in front of them and teach their bodies how to respond to it.

But we’re doing the exact opposite, which is creating a bigger problem than the one we’re trying to solve. In other words, by trying to protect kids from exposure to peanuts we’re actually creating more peanut allergies. Our own oversensitivity, well intentioned as it may be to the danger of peanuts, is actually making our kids worse off.

And it’s my belief that this peanut allergy example is happening all over American society right now.

In trying to protect and shield kids from bad things we are instilling in them the idea that they are fragile and they are likely to break if they are confronted by words, comments, or pictures that upset them. The result? Instead of making our society better, stronger and tougher, we are making it worse, weaker, and more susceptible to breaking down.

Let me put it to you this way — modern American teenagers love to call people Nazis on social media when someone writes or says something that makes them uncomfortable, but if our modern day society had to mobilize a draft to bring in millions of soldiers to fight actual Nazis and storm the beaches of Germany, how many of you are confident our modern day youth would rise up to the challenge?

Anyone think a little “toxic masculinity” might have been necessary on the beaches of Normandy and during World War II.

I think it might have.

Those guys were the greatest generation, the best a man could get in real life.

Not a bunch of actors in a crappy commercial.

Hope y’all have fantastic weekends.

Send your questions to claytravis@gmail.com

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