The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

That’s what she said

3 min read

I thought for sure everyone at my roommate’s birthday party would find my homemade “JonBenet had a bitchy face?” shirt hilarious.

I was wrong.

Admittedly, I’m not always a beacon of good judgment and I’ve been known to take jokes too far, but I had no idea that shirt could upset, well, anyone.
According to a few guests at the party, not only is the shirt “insensitive, offensive, and crass,” but I’m “morally bankrupt” for designing such a treasure.


Isn’t that the point of wearing something like that?

Let’s be real: If I took the time to cut out and iron the letters onto the shirt and I’m wearing it to a function where I knew there’d be people I’ve never met, is it even likely that I care what you think unless you’re telling me how funny I am?
At the time, I wrote all of the haters off as pageant girl fetishists who wouldn’t know a good joke if it appeared as a dead girl in their basements.

“They have bitchy faces!” I said to friends the next day, but clearly their criticism mattered more than I could have anticipated. It just took a few weeks to resonate.

I acknowledge that, despite whatever my intentions may have been, the shirt is legitimately offensive.

But, just as my “insensitivity” doesn’t give me the right to wear such tasteless garments around those who may not appreciate the joke, their hypersensitivity doesn’t make it okay to berate me because they don’t agree with what I’m saying.

Whatever happened to live and let live?

Maybe I’m missing something, but I still don’t understand why people take what I say (or wear) so seriously. I don’t even take what I say seriously 99% of the time. That doesn’t leave me unaccountable for my actions, but I can’t help but wonder why people don’t lighten up a little bit.

When there are girls posting pictures of themselves on Facebook in blackface at a “Dead Celebs” themed party with few negative repercussions, how is it that anyone is capable of being this upset by a self-proclaimed asshole in a t-shirt?

Aren’t there people who actually believe the hateful messages they’re sending?
Just over spring break, for example, the Westboro Baptist Church nutjobs were in Virginia protesting gay high schoolers and Jewish people.

Certainly mocking a six-year-old’s murder for a laugh is the epitome of poor taste, but what about the people who truly believe that “God hates fags” and all that nonsense?

It takes a lot more to anger me than it does the average person with, you know, a conscience, but nothing offends me faster than hearing about closed-minded bigots who hate others simply for who they are.

So when someone’s anger over a joke they don’t think is funny matches how I feel when I’m faced with the kind of hatred Westboro Baptist promotes. I’m confused, to say the least.

Obviously this is a lesson in tolerance on myriad levels. I need to be sensitive to the fact that not everyone has my peculiar sense of right and wrong and I shouldn’t be surprised when people disagree with me or take one of my jokes too seriously.

On the other hand, let’s acknowledge that yelling at a drunk girl in a t-shirt isn’t the best way to spend a Saturday night.

So you don’t like my sense of humor, who cares?

Chances are I think your haircut is stupid and your taste in music sucks, but I’m not going to scold you the next time I see you out at a party.
There are bigger battles for all of us to fight.

Plus, isn’t it possible that JonBenet really did have a bitchy face?

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