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Blog Posted in avatar   Elizabeth Avigad's Blog

No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service...

By Elizabeth Avigad
Posted Jul 31, 2012 in Lifestyle
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.
This message was once upon a time plastered on the doors of grocery stores, libraries, and any number of public spaces as a general reminder to everyone of the common consideration and respect due to others when sharing a public space.
I can't say that I see this sign that often anymore, and maybe this is a general signal that today's society is losing its concern for others in the race to empower the "i".
"I" want to enter the store in my swimsuit and flip flops, so "I" will. "I" want to speak using demeaning and hurtful epithets, and "I" can because it's part of the freedom of expression that "I" deserve. "I" want to sit in the public library, where small children do their homework and push the extents of their imagination and creativity, and watch pornography on the library's computers, and you (I vaguely remember this word) can't tell me not to because this also is my right (even if it is the library's computer).
Well, let me tell you that "I" was shocked to see in a recent NY Times article that a public library in San Francisco has deployed privacy hoods on the screens of library computers so that only the user can view the screen (and the pornography that is possibly on it).
A woman on a flight is offended that the person sitting in front of her is viewing pornography and complains to the attendant, to which the attendant replies that they cannot do anything and someone nearby adds Be quiet, nobody cares.
A comment in the closing of the article sums up the shift in morality in that we are experiencing in today's society quite nicely - she now likens seeing pornography on someone else’s screen to hearing someone curse in public. It is going to happen sometimes.
The impact of the actions "I" make on other people isn't something that should be discounted in my deciding to act in that way. What has happened to the mutual respect that was formerly so common and embedded in society's norms? How is it that "Freedom of speech" and anti-censorship arguments and the dominance of "I" have pushed the limits of peoples' tolerance to the point that people are willing to just step back and say "Nobody cares" in response to something clearly disrespectful and even harmful to the general community. How can we argue that one person's personal desire is more deserving of actualization than that of another's?
A wake up call is needed to protect people's rights NOT to be exposed to something at another's impulse - if for nothing else than to protect the innocence of the next generation, since it seems that we are already a lost cause.