Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not a big fan of things being co-opted by special-interest groups. You know what I mean? Things that always have existed by themselves should belong to everyone, not just select groups of people who want to use those things for their own personal aggrandizement or financial gain.

A perfect case in point would be the words “face” and “book.” Both of those words have been around for at least a dozen years now, and everyone has had access to them the whole time.

These days, however, if you try to use “face” or “book” in the name of your website, you will immediately be sued by Facebook, which goes after everyone audacious enough to think they’re entitled to such words. This is because Facebook is huge and everywhere and awful and pissed off because no one likes it anymore.

Another example would be the color pink. Once upon a time, if you wore pink, it meant you were either a girl or a preppy dweeb from Connecticut. Nowadays, though, if you wear pink, apparently you’re supporting the fight against breast cancer. Granted, I’m sure most pink-wearers probably don’t mind that people erroneously think they’re involved with a worthy cause, but still.

Perhaps the most glaring examples of co-option come courtesy of the gay community, and before I rail about them, I want to point out that I’m not railing against the gay community. I honestly don’t care one iota about the gay community, and I say that in the best, most positive way I can.

That being said, gay people can’t take rainbows away from the rest of us. That’s just not fair. It’s bad enough they stole the word “gay,” thus ruining forever the “Flintstones” theme song, which promises, “You’ll have a gay old time,” but to be honest, “gay” wasn’t a word I used very often anyway. Rainbows, on the other hand, are something I see all the time, and it used to make me happy when I saw them. Why do they have to be gay now?

Sometimes, however, something gets co-opted by a special-interest group so completely that it’s probably best to just let it go. For instance, upside-down pentagrams used to be a pagan symbol of male energy. Now, they’re just something that dorky metalheads wear to make people think they worship Satan.

Likewise, ancient Egyptians used a type of cross to symbolize life and fertility, but do you think ancient Egyptians are getting the cross back? Fat chance. Some other group, whose name eludes me at the moment, has pretty much made the cross its own forever.

No symbol, though, has become as thoroughly associated with one special-interest group as the swastika. I think we can all agree on this point. Admittedly, for centuries the swastika might have stood for things such as life, power, strength and good luck in cultures around the globe, but since World War II, the swastika has stood for Nazis, plain and simple.

Thus, beachgoers in the popular Jersey Shore town of Long Beach, N.J., must have been a little confused recently when a small plane flew past the beach pulling a swastika banner. I imagine everyone’s immediate reaction was to think that some jackass neo-Nazi was trying to make a point. This, as it turned out, was not the case.

Evidently, the swastika banner was the work of a group called the International Raelian Movement, which is part of a psuedoreligion having something to do with UFOs. The banner was being pulled behind the plane as part of the IRM’s third swastika rehabilitation day, as one of the stated goals of the IRM is to restore the swastika to its original meaning as a symbol of good luck.

Speaking of good luck, you’re going to need plenty of it if you think swastika rehabilitation has any chance of succeeding, IRM. I don’t mean to tell you what to do, but this little ploy of yours isn’t going to happen. It just isn’t. Besides, your organization only dates to about 1974, meaning that the swastika was already ruined long before you glommed onto it.

Do yourself a favor, IRM, and instead of wasting time trying to save the swastika, choose a new symbol, preferably one that people don’t hate quite so much. May I suggest the upside-down pentagram? Sure, metalheads might be a little miffed, and people might think you worship Satan, but that’s still better than being thought of as Nazis.

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