5 Well-Intentioned Phrases That Have Been Ruined by Assholes

#2. "But What About the Children?"

The adult world is a cruel mistress, and tiny people who don't yet have the emotional maturity to deal with it should be shielded from its worst parts. Sometimes this involves complaining to authority figures. In 2013, a family was on a United Airlines flight when the plane's drop-down screens started showing a movie that included explicit torture scenes. Because they had a 4-year-old kid with them, the parents asked that the crew perhaps consider showing something more appropriate for a captive all-ages audience. Understandable, right? Sometimes you gotta stand up and proclaim: "For the love of God, how hard is it to show a goddamn Pixar movie?"

The Problem:

The whole idea of "protecting children" in modern America has become a punchline.

Via SFGate

That family that complained about the movie? The airline responded by diverting their flight to a different city and having them questioned by the FBI. That's about what you'd expect from United customer service, but when news coverage of the diverted flight reached the Internet, swarms of commenters declared that the parents deserved everything they got, even though the guy who directed the film said that he agreed with their complaint.

Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images
"You want us to show children a movie without torture scenes? WHY DON'T WE JUST FART DIRECTLY ON THE CONSTITUTION."

But you can't really blame people for this reaction. The last few decades have seen countless child-safety campaigns that consisted of taking away everyone's fun for the sake of parents who want the government to be the one to decide whether their 2-year-old should play Grand Theft Auto. Years of authority figures trying to ban violent video games or filter the entire damn Internet for the sake of "the children" have caused a bunch of people to start thinking that the entire concept of protecting children is something to laugh at.

The majority of people who think this way don't spend much time around children themselves, which is fine: Children poop everywhere, after all. But it also means they've never had children in their care go looking for cartoon pictures online and find fan drawings of My Little Ponies raping each other. If you bring up the slightest concern about child safety, even if it's something as inoffensive as "I think pony rape should not appear in filtered Google search results," people will start to back away, desperately trying to sweep their gaming consoles beyond your pro-censorship reach.

Thankfully, this issue seems to be improving: People on Tumblr recently started holding Safe Search days, in which they report inappropriate images that have slipped through search engine filters. But the tendency to panic every time someone brings up childhood innocence is still around, so if you must bring it up, make sure you carry around some pony-rape pictures to convince nonbelievers.

Thomas Jackson/Digital Vision/Getty Images
"Well, I agree now that we should censor the Internet, but I also think that we should burn down the race of man."

#1. "Actually, That's Not True"

We live in a world of poorly sourced Facebook forwards, cable news, and acquaintances who never question where the hell their information is coming from. So it's cool if we correct others when they spout off an incorrect fact, right? We wouldn't want to be wrong about something, so the same must apply to them.

The Problem:

You're at your local Thursday night Babylonian re-enactment group. An acquaintance mentions that Easter is named after the goddess Ishtar, and that the spring festival in her honor was Christianized by the Romans. You interrupt to tell him that in most languages the word for "Easter" is derived from the Hebrew word for "passover," which sounds nothing at all like "Ishtar," so his theory doesn't make sense unless the Romans had a time machine that predicted the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons several centuries in the future. The speaker, shockingly, does not react with gratitude to your correction. Instead, he'll probably stop talking to you. Why? Because nobody likes getting corrected, especially to their face, especially in front of others. You've just made someone look like an idiot, all for the sake of something trivial.

Via Wikipedia
You also offended the Great Lady Ishtar, asshole.

But correcting someone about a "fact" they're reciting isn't always easy to avoid. If a dude has you cornered at a party and is eagerly telling you about how Mr. Rogers was once a Navy SEAL, your only options are to correct him or to nod and say "I didn't know that." The second option involves both telling a lie and betraying your sense of personal integrity, and you'll probably spend the rest of the party crying into your drink and avoiding the scrapbooking table.

Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
Scrapbooking is what people do at parties, right? I don't go to many.

Besides that, isn't it in some sense your duty to correct him? In 20 years, the guy you're talking to could be president, giving an important speech about how we must honor the memory of the great Navy SEAL Mr. Rogers by avoiding a war with Russia. The press will seize the incorrect Mr. Rogers attribution and ignore the speech's peaceful message. Good job ruining the world, jerk.

There is simply no way to win in this situation. You either come off like a dick or spend the rest of the day questioning whether you were right to hold back on acting like a dick. The only way out is to give up on social interaction altogether and devote your free time to the honorable task of adding those little "citation needed" tags to Wikipedia articles.

C. Coville has a Twitter here and a Tumblr here.

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