Sensitive Sensibilities

Garen Yegparian


The sensibilities in question are those of the blood suckers, the people who care naught for others, especially others upon whom they’ve visited all kinds of discomfort and pain, yet iare “shocked” when others return the favor.

I’ve addressed this issue in an earlier piece too, Poets & Protesters. The trigger for that piece was news of an ordinance in San Marino (a city in Los Angeles County) that unconscionably proscribes demonstrators’ rights.

This time, the news is from all over the state of California (Activists protest at execs’ home, p. B1, LATimes, April 11, 2012). An organization named “Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment” decided to highlight corporate leaders’ abusive practices by bringing the message home to them, quite literally. Among those at whose houses the group organized protests were Meg Whitman’s (now at abuser-in-chief at Hewlett-Packard) and Enrique Hernandez (Wells Fargo board member).

What stunned me is the utter insensitivity of two people quoted in the article. One, David Smith, a labor economist at Pepperdine University said, “Taking it to the homes and getting close to the boundaries of people’s personal lives seems to me to be pushing the ethical boundaries a bit”. He also said, “It’s important that all sides have their voices heard, but this strikes me as a venue that is too personalized”. Wow, “pushing ethical boundaries” and “too personalized”! Really? What do you call firing people and desiccating companies in the interest of buying and selling them for profit? What about the rampant funny business that brought us the housing market’s collapse, the so called Great Recession, the foreclosure crisis, and the utterly deformative levels of money in politics that in turn enabled and continues to enable the overlordship of the 1% at everyone else’s expense? These don’t push the ethical boundaries or get too personalized? Yeah, you know how losing your job and not being able to find another for years is really IMpersonal.

Then there’s one of Hernandez’s neighbors (refused to give her name) who’s quoted as saying, “Don’t they have anything better to do with their lives? This is pathetic”. Here’s someone who is clearly not just insensitive, but utterly disconnected from reality, despite professing to have had her own financial difficulties. People’s lives are being upended, destroyed, and perverted. What could be a better use of someone’s time than working in the public/political arena to improve the legal infrastructure of the country to prevent the abuses of the last decade and punish any future cases. Not to mention, these types of activities might help open the eyes of clueless people like her as to the sources of their woes.

But, even more importantly, the sense that the source of a societal grievance can somehow be placed beyond reach of those aggrieved is VERY worrisome. Even the Tea party types are complaining about restrictions on their ability to protest people and places they find objectionable. Being too sensitive to people’s “tender” “personal lives” and obstructing freedom of speech for that purpose is just plain wrong. I may think the Tea Party types are loonies for what they believe and protest against, but I have no problem with it when they act in that way. That’s what it’s all about when it comes to civic action, civil society, and freedom of speech.

Otherwise, between this “sensitivity” and the overwrought attention paid to “property” will end up silencing us all. That’s something we can ill afford as one of the most abused nations and people on Earth. Armenians should be at the forefront of decrying any limitations placed on freedom of speech and demonstrative actions.


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