Friday, March 16, 2012

My prejudice cracks through

The other day, at a fast food place, I saw an older-middle-age guy in an Obama T-shirt. Instantly I was overcome with "The Stereotype". I saw him as a snobby "progressive" who was probably on welfare and/or held a bureaucratic "job" which he depended on Big Government to create an imaginary "need" for.

I know that isn't nice of me. After all, I know from previous experience that when people see me without any context (and maybe in context) they see me as an ignorant hick. Someone who mumbles incoherently in single-syllable, incorrectly-pronounced words. Or something. I have actually had people confess that I was not at all what they had expected from appearances. Good.

As I watched him with my peripheral vision I tried to picture the shirt without the Obama image. I could almost eliminate the prejudice that way, until Obama showed up again. Then the suspicions came flooding back.

One thing that bewilders me beyond words is why- why on Earth- would anyone choose to wear a shirt that celebrates a puppetician? Why? Why venerate the most defective people in society? It's like wearing a shirt celebrating rabies or ebola. It seems to me that it shows an incredible lack of sense. Unless you do it as an exercise in irony.



  1. Or you are homeless, and you found the shirt in a trash can.

  2. "Prejudice"? I will refer you to the Ockham's Razor* principle, Kent: Most things are what they appear to be until additional data shows otherwise. This goof was 99 percent likely to be wearing his politics on his chest (i.e., "in your face") for all to see.

    * When competing hypotheses are present that which makes the fewest assumptions and thereby offers the simplest explanation of the effect is more likely to be correct.

  3. Paul- I thought about that, or maybe he bought the shirt at Goodwill or something. Like I say, I knew, even as I was feeling that, that I could be mistaken.

  4. There's two differences.

    He picked the shirt intentionally to send a message. That you received this message and interpreted it further than he intended is to your credit, not the reverse.

    By contrast, you don't pick your shirts by what message they send. (Otherwise you'd be sending more accurate messages.) However, most will still try to read you as a message, as if you did. Oblivious to (if you're the usual type) the various markers that ARE messages, saying, "These clothes aren't a message."

    In other words I don't see any prejudice anywhere on any side. Just epistemology.

    Though I do get tired of almost nobody realizing that it's possible to buy clothes to cover one's nakedness, rather than to aspire to be a billboard.

  5. I only own one T-shirt. It's message is "Take back your Liberty - Time's Up". And, I never wear T-shirts other than to sleep in. So I never send any explicit messages with my clothing- in public. Well, I did wear my T-shirt out in public one time. But, then, maybe my clothes do send a message. I wear mostly old-west style stuff. Perhaps they say "I am brave enough- or foolish enough- to not follow current fashion and in this way I am drawing attention to myself." That's what my 2nd ex-wife said I was doing.