Making It Right
While heading into Yosemite Valley a couple weeks back, I found myself quite taken with a camo visor on the shelf of a gas station mini-mart somewhere between Mariposa and Midpines. This visor would be a perfect addition to my head-to-toe all-green climbing outfit that has come to vaguely resemble that of a ranger, if a ranger wore a green shirt printed with tropical flowers. The visor would take the ensemble to the next level of paramilitary–and it was fully adjustable with Velcro, useful for accommodating my abnormally large head and equally abnormally large amount of hair. All this for $14!
My climbing buddy and confidant Jacob quickly approved the purchase, as did our two additional buddies waiting in the Deerhunter, Jacob’s road trip-mobile outside–so named due to a fatal run-in with a deer last spring in Tuolumne. Jacob was driving and hit the deer. James swiftly put it out of its misery with a rock to the cranium. Then they went and crushed Fairview Dome. Jacob’s SUV now boasts a distinctively dented front bumper that makes it easy to spot in gym parking lots.
When I recounted this story to the Young Republican I tutor, trying to relate to him about animal slaughter (something with which I have little personal experience beyond smaller, bird- and chipmunk-sized roadkill-and-wince incidents, and that one time I watched a formerly vegetarian river guide kill a chicken with the aid of a YouTube video) and hoping to inspire him to move forward in life toward such adult freedoms as running over deer and then finishing them off with your bare hands (while maybe also subtly insinuating that male bonding need not necessarily involve firearms?), he remarked, “Wow, that’s some primal stuff.”
The Young Republican also wears a camo hat much of the time. Now that I had this visor, we could be twinsies in the library Homework Center.
“It has a duck on it!” I marveled. “It says ‘Duck Dynasty!’ Neat!”
My road buddies informed me that Duck Dynasty was the name of a television show. Had I not heard of it?
“I don’t have a television,” I sniffed with the unwarranted superiority of a person who spends 90% of her solitary waking time either producing or consuming content on the internet. “What is this ‘television program’ you speak of?”
Someone started to explain the premise of the show, but we quickly got sidetracked passing around comestibles and listening to Jacob’s Alan Watts recording. All I got was “reality television” and “duck hunters” and we never got around to the horrifying racist and homophobic remarks of Phil Robertson.
It didn’t take more than one additional wearing of my new visor to be told of its unfortunate connotations. I felt just terrible. I had just put $14 in the pocket of an organization that willingly provided a public forum for an asshole. Of course, this outcome was no different than if I had donated to a political campaign, or even just paid my taxes, but this particular choice had been more uninformed.
I didn’t want to destroy the visor, as that would only waste resources and the labor of Chinese workers while taking up abnormally-large-head-sized space in a landfill somewhere. But I also could not use my own brow to advertise what I now knew was a public forum for an asshole. I covered up the duck with a patch depicting the nuclear missile near my old writing studio, and roughed up the stitching of the words, “Duck Dynasty.” As a great man once said, “This aggression will not stand.” (I speak, of course, of The Dude, not George H.W. Bush.)
But that still didn’t seem like enough. To truly make this right, I had to even out the money part. The best I could come up with was to double down. I have therefore made $14 donations to both the NAACP and the Lambda Legal Defense Fund–both in the name of Phil Robertson. I thought about making one to PETA, but that seemed hypocritical, given the roadkill, meat consumption, and leather use inherent to my lifestyle.