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Okay Ellen, Stop

Your Privilege Is Showing

By Kelly ThompsonPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
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Talk Show Host Ellen Degeneres

So, if you've been on social media lately, you'll probably have seen the photo of Ellen and George W. Bush floating around where they look like they're having a good time. Apparently, they're actually good friends and they enjoy having a laugh. Of course, criticism arose due to the fact that, primarily, Ellen is an out woman, married to another woman, and is vocal about her support for the LGBT*+ community. George W. Bush, however, is... well, he's George W. Bush, the republican 43rd President of the United States, who among other things, was instrumental in the invasion of the Middle East after 9/11, along with proposing numerous social policies at home, including, but not limited to, limitations against the LGBT*+ community.

Now, I want to state very clearly that my problem isn't with Ellen being friends with W. I have friends who I don't agree with at all about politics, and that I continue to be civil with. With those friends, I always ensure I call them out when they support policies that are discriminatory or would further harm some individuals. I call them out when they support politicians who I believe serve the wealthiest and most powerful, and who are only interested in keeping those interests in play. That being said, I don't need to do that 24/7. Sometimes, my friends will support economic policies, because it would make sense for their family, without considering the implications it might have on other communities. Sometimes, my friends will support social policies, without considering how other communities may view or be affected by those same policies. This is when, I believe, it is important to have those discussions, to have conversations about what sort of beliefs you have, and to debate the implications that those policies may have on a wider community. That is absolutely fine, and I believe that disagreeing with, and challenging your friends to think differently is a vital part of society, and democracy in general.

That being said, my problem is with what came after. Ellen went on her show, and gave a speech about how you need to be nice to those that disagree with you.

That part is the problem.

No one is entitled to your niceties. No one is entitled to you being a nice person to them. No one is entitled to your respect. As the saying goes, respect is earned.

If there is someone who is racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, etc., they are not automatically entitled to you having a peaceful conversation about how they are wrong. A white supremacist is not entitled to you taking your time and energy to sit down and politely explain to them that white supremacy is wrong.

What Ellen misrepresents and forgets is that there is an element of choice. You can choose to take your time and explain your views to those people. You can choose to be their friend. At the end of the day, it is up to you how you respond to those people.

However, you are entitled and welcome to not choose to do those things. You can choose to accept a half-assed non-apology from someone, and count it as acceptable. You can choose to ignore continued ignorant and offensive statements from someone in order to support their work in other fields. You can choose to react however you want to those situations.

What makes this situation worse for me, is the fact that this is the second time that Ellen has tried to do this, both times telling the LGBT*+ community that they need to accept apologies, or need to accept that you can be nice to someone. After Kevin Hart was named as the Oscars host, her message was basically the same as it is now, and it was no more relevant then. It is up to each and every member of the LGBT*+ community to accept, or ignore, Kevin Hart's half-apology. It is up to each and every person who is discriminated against to determine whether or not they will accept any apology put forward by any individual.

This is what I think makes Ellen's latest spiel so offensive, yet so boring. We've heard her privileged. Problematic defense before.

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About the Creator

Kelly Thompson

renaissance man and cultural commentator from #YEG.

fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenplays and theatre. i try to do it all.

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