This one’s a little different as I’m assuming that even if you haven’t read the book yourself, you will know the subtext and I therefore needn’t explain. I don’t usually read books purely because of their reputation but since becoming a bookseller, I have felt it increasingly necessary to read (probably) the most famous novel in the world; I therefore surrendered to its might.
I feel that to write standard review here would be frankly insulting to Harper Lee and TKAM’s 50 year legacy; so instead, I would like to discuss it in context with modern society: to question the ways in which we still huddle together and collectively frown at people different to ourselves.
Now of course racism still exists, but thankfully those who are racist are very much in the minority, as are homophobes and anti-Semites (etc.). There is however one area I believe that discrimination is rife and worse, an accepted norm. This is the treatment one receives when they have visible tattoos or piercings. There are far too many people in this world who look down their noses and raise their eyebrows to the heavens at people with adornments such as these- the reason for which continues to elude me. What is really very baffling to me however is how some are more ‘acceptable’ than others; whilst ear piercings are very acceptable in the workplace/society, a lip piercing is not. Here is an extract from a forum discussing CEX, in which this lady has decided that her local branch is full of undesirables:
“The staff look like criminals, they Dress inappropriate and I mean you’ll be shocked one of them looked like a Punk rocker, and tattoos all over the arms hands and one girl had mixed colour Hair, with rings all over the nose and lips,its unprofessional seriously CEX needs to be investigated”
WHO MADE THESE RULES? AND WHO TAUGHT THIS WOMAN TO WRITE? (no-one, apparently) Can anyone actually give me a reason why some jewellery placements are more ‘unprofessional’ and ‘unsightly’ than others? It is only offensive if you take offense. (To some extent I believe, like swearing) Perhaps when people look at a pierced individual they really do still see an abrasive punk who might attack verbally or physically at any moment….but do they really?…REALLY?
“Of course we can discriminate against people with tattoos! Ethnic groups different to ourselves have not made the decision to look they way they do (not that how they ‘look’ should ever have been an issue) but these people have chosen to adorn themselves like a miscreant therefore we can treat them as such- keep them away from us!”
People chose to be religious too- so should we to some extent have allowed Hitler’s anti-semitist views? I realise this is somewhat extreme and off-point and Hitler’s treatment of the Jews was far worse than moving bus seat to avoid a person with illustrated skin but I hope you can see the point I’m trying to make. Don’t group people together for your convenience. It’s ridiculous behaviour for the 21st century. Next time you go to make an assumption, imagine for a moment that person without the word printed on their wrist or ring in their nose and think- “Would I worry about this person if they didn’t have that?” If they answer is “Yes, they are scowling at me and spitting aggressively” then OK, continue to feel uneasy (and perhaps move out of the way of their saliva stream)- but remember that that person could just as easily be doing those things without their body adornments. If the answer is “No” then let it be and treat them like everybody else!
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”
― Harper Lee