Saturday, May 14, 2011

The complaint department is now OPEN

Yesterday I received an email from "G. Gifford," complaining about the photograph I used here. My responses are in blue.


Subject: Image

You seem quite fond of the image


Actually, I am not particularly fond of it. It is merely the best I could find that suits its purpose.

of the "stupid/dumb" man with crossed eyes, using it on both your book cover and blog. I think it's in very poor taste. It's clearly mocking developmentally disabled people in an immature,

I am 65 years old and feel no need to demonstrate maturity. It was more important when I was 14.

unimaginative

OK, please suggest an alternate graphic image which portrays stupidity in a more imaginative way.

stereotypical

Stereotypes are common and often necessary graphic "shorthand." On an upcoming book, I use eyeglasses as a graphic stereotype to indicate intelligence. Obviously, not all intelligent people wear glasses, and not all eyeglass-wearers are intelligent, but the stereotype image is instantly recognizable shorthand.

and offensive manner.

So far, you seem to be the only one who is offended. The model and the photographer accepted the money without complaining to me.

Surely you're above such things.

Definitely not.

The most stupid, uneducated and ignorant people

Why do you combine stupid, uneducated and ignorant? They don't necessarily coincide. I know a person with a master's degree who does many stupid things. I know smart people who are ignorant. I know uneducated people who are smart.

I've met in my life were all rather "normal" looking, with no crossed eyes or protruding jaws

How did jaws get into the discussion? Do Jay Leno, Homer Simpson and Neanderthals have similar intelligence?

to let me know their brains were not funtioning (If your brain functioned better, you might have spelled that right.) quite the way you might prefer. I've also been fortunate enough to (You left out a word here. Do you have a Neanderthal jaw?) many many (You repeated a word, Homer.) people who, through no fault of their own, did resemble the photo you keep using (I think I've used it TWICE!)

due to various gentic (Was that misspelled because of a genetic problem?) disorders. Few of them were dumb or stupid. Most seemed remarkably insightful, honest and hard working. Not one of them made fun of other people's problems.

Maybe you need to meet more people. Jay Leno has a protruding lower jaw, and frequently makes fun of ignorant and/or stupid people on his "Jay Walking" segments.

So, who is the stupid/dumb one do you think?

That's a poorly constructed sentence. Could you be "stupid/dumb?"

The photo was purchased from photograph supplier Fotolia.com, in a search for the term "stupid man."

Yesterday morning, that search revealed 1124 photos. I assume that the models and photographers knew the search terms which could be applied to their work, and they got paid for it. The photographer probably said to the model, "Make a stupid face."

FWIW, I never thought that the model was cross-eyed, and I know that an eye problem does not imply stupidity. (I have astigmatism in one eye and had cataracts and myopia in both. One of my best teachers was cross-eyed.) I interpreted the model's eyes as looking upward, in bewilderment, which could indicate stupidity.

Also, when someone is truly cross-eyed (i.e., has "strabismus"), the eyes do not focus at the same thing. That's very different from the eyeball positioning in the photo I used. Many people deliberately do it to be funny.


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