film

Short stories

A DISCUSSION OF PREJUDICE

 

Two college professors strode across the green engrossed in conversation.

"But you have to admit that the root of prejudice is stereotyping!" exclaimed Dr. Yung, blinking his eyes like an ostrich.

"To quote my students," replied Dr. Goldstein, "Well duh..."

"But therefore," Dr. Yung raised a pudgy forefinger in the air, "if we eliminate stereotyping then we eliminate prejudice!"

"Naturally, but you also eliminate all of human thought."

Dr. Yung looked as though someone had just pissed in his Perrier.

"It's true," Goldstein continued. "The human mind constantly uses stereotypes. It's how we think, it's who we are," and he fished through his pockets for his pipe.

"How can you say that?"

"Because it's true! Look at us, two college professors, that's all anyone knows about us, so they've filled in the blanks with their stereotypes of what two college professors are."

"But that's not true!" cried Dr. Yung blinking wildly, "they know that I blink like an ostrich!"

"A stereotypical ostrich." shrugged Goldstein. "The basis of all humor is stereotyping."

"They also know I have a pudgy finger!"

"It's true, you know," Goldstein said, remembering that he'd given up the pipe years ago. "Think about it, a priest and a rabbi get on an airplane..."

"Not all!" Yung shook his head, "A guy goes into a bar...!"

"Who is this guy?"

"I don't know, it doesn't matter! He's just a guy!"

"Then he's a stereotype!"

Yung looked up to watch as a gaggle of coeds passed in the other direction. "Some humor depends on breaking stereotypes for the laugh!" he said.

Goldstein snorted. "Then it still depends on the existence of a stereotype."

Yung muttered to himself.

"Take the most obvious example: What do you do if a blonde throws a pin at you?"

"Those types of jokes are built around stereotypes!" snapped Yung, "But that doesn't mean that they're stereotypical!"

"I think they are." Goldstein replied.

"And what?" demanded Yung.

Goldstein frowned down at his colleague.

"What DO you do if a blonde throws a pin at you?"

"Run like hell," said Goldstein, "she's got a grenade in her mouth."

"Not funny."

"It is to me." Goldstein sighed. "It's all in the language you know."

"What is?"

"Stereotypes. Language depends on them. I say 'dog" and you think of the stereotype of a dog."

"Yes!" Yung was walking sideways to stare at his companion. "But if you then go on to describe the dog, then it becomes a specific dog, and not a stereotype!"

Goldstein shrugged again. "It doesn't matter, it started out as one. We couldn't even have begun the discussion of dogs if we didn't have stereotypes of dogs in our heads."

Yung stared down at the brick walkway ."But if we think in stereotypes, then there's no hope of ever overcoming prejudice!"

"No," replied Goldstein, "there's not. However there is one ray of hope perhaps..."

"Hmm?"

"If we substitute kind stereotypes for nasty ones, then prejudice ceases to be a problem."

"Crap," said Yung. "He gave you all the best arguments."

"Because I'm Jewish, you think?"

Yung scowled.

"Because I'm not Jewish," said Goldstein, "I believe in the Great Potato!"

Copyright 1998 by Luther Conant III

 
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  Write to Luther at Luther@lutheroutloud.com. Tell him what you think, what you know, how you feel, or what made you feel like writing.
 
All images, text, animations,and music 2000 By Luther C. Conant III (unless where otherwise noted.)