Saturday, September 25, 2004

My Bias; My Slur; My Bad

Please allow me to apologize for my use, in a recent post, of a slur that I’m afraid reveals an unfair bias. The phrase results from my over-generalization of a few unfortunate personal experiences, and risks offending millions of my fellow Americans. I’ve caught myself saying it in the past and resolved to stop. Nonetheless, once again, I unfortunately called part of the U.S. the “Boring Coast.”

I initially coined that term, together with “the Fun Coast,” in an attempt to come up with a pairing more evocative than “East Coast/West Coast” or “Right Coast/Left Coast.” I’m sticking with “the Fun Coast,” which I think fairly captures much of what I love about my adopted home. But I pretty quickly realized that, even if I often find some aspects of the other side of the U.S. less interesting than this side, I can not fairly call it “boring.” I’ve thus since opted for “the Respectable Coast,” a usage that I think captures something of the essence of the East, that usefully contrasts it with the West, and that casts no unfair cloud on the glory of the former Colonies.

Again, I apologize to everyone from those Respectable parts. Please understand that I was just having some Fun.


Chris said...

Tom, perhaps a new "nickname" needs to be applied to the forgotten coast (The Gulf Coast) as well. After seeing the people interviewed on CNN following the most recent hurricane, my suggestion would be The "We're All One Big Poor, White, Happy Family" coast.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you need to apologize for being blunt.
If it sucks to surf on the east coast than who better than you to say so.

Anyway, I like all your posts whether legalist or oceanographic or familial. I always thought surfing was primarily a teenagers pastime, so you've enlightened me. I know that you can speak like a law professor but can you speak beachboy/girl lingo? Do you ever say, "dude, was that ever a gnarly wave!"? Is surfing a physically demanding sport? Can you teach Glen to do it?

Why are there not more minority/woman surfers? Where is the Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant of surfing? Perhaps we need an affirmative action program to broaden the ranks of surfers. What do you think?


Tom W. Bell said...

You're right, Chris; I forgot the Gulf Coast (not to mention the Great Lakes one). I guess that I don't have very strong opinions about those. I'd be hard-pressed, anyway, to come up with neutral and evocative additions to the "respectable, fun" list. And, anyway, I started the project only because I wanted replacements for the East/West dichotomy much bandied about. The other coasts, for all their vices and virtues, don't get as much media play, and so don't compell the same response.

Tom W. Bell said...

I hardly concluded that the East Coast is comparatively boring based only on wasted trips to the beach, Trumpit, though I certainly suffered too many of those. No, it was deficiencies in a good a wide variety of areas that led to my bias: big skies, good running weather, desert hiking, snowboarding, uptight cubes, etc. But, again, I still managed to have a lot of fun on the Respectable Coast, and I fully understand why lots of fun-loving folks like it there.

It turns out that many women do surf, especially longboarding. I see 'em all the time. It isn't 50/50, but few sports are. On the mainland, granted, most surfers appear to be non-minorities. I'd credit that both to culture and economics, the latter because few folks bother to surf unless they live near a beach, and the skin in most beach towns tend towards pale (unless and until tanned).