Friday, June 5, 2015

The Tyranny of Palindromes

I'm old enough to remember when it was suggested that if you played certain Beatle songs backwards, you would hear satanic messages. I could never figure out how to play albums backwards on my record player, so I dodged the bullet on that one. Some residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania haven't been so lucky.

The Port Authority, which is in charge of Pittsburgh's city buses, announced that it would begin removing an advertising slogan from it's buses after complaints that when read backwards, it was offensive to some. The marketing campaign began several months ago and included "Rockin' Rollin'...and Movin' Groovin'." However, when the latest incarnation of the campaign premiered a few days ago, the trouble started. It seems that, " Ziggin' Zaggin, when viewed in a rear view mirror, was highly offensive, since it so clearly co-opted a very famous Rap lyric with no attribution. No wait...

Although the Port Authority acted swiftly in agreeing to remove the hateful message, some Pittsburghians didn't understand what all the fuss was about. According to CBS Pittsburgh's reporting of this story, Antwon Manson of the Hill District said, " Who really thinks about reading it backwards? It's 'Ziggin' and 'Zaggin'. A vehicle zigs and zags through the city to pick somebody up. It's a ....BUS."

At this point probably over half of you are thinking that I'm making this story up. In the four years that I've been writing this blog, I have been known to pull your legs on more than a few occasions. Recently, I sent an e-mail to the large Dunnevant family that I thought was clearly, propostourously satirical. But satire is often in the eye of the beholder, since more than one of my family was convinced that Patrick was about to bring a ravenous, attack dog to Hatteras for beach week! 

But, believe me when I tell you, I'm not making this up. This actually happened in Pittsburgh this very week. We now live in a country where the easiest job in America is being a writer for the Onion. All you have to do is read a newspaper. Overt, in your face, racial epitaphs are horrible and should be shamed, but now we must guard from the covert racism of words that someone might see in a mirror, spelled backwards and take offense. Wow.

Well, just as a precaution for any advertisers out there, here are some other potentially reverse trigger words that you may want to avoid.

1. If I'm on a diet, I better not see the word STRESSED.
2. Brent Musburger is clearly an agent of Lucifer with his famous introductory tag line, "You are LIVE..."
3.Recovering alcoholics might be launched into a bender if they see the word, REGAL.
4. The NRA is probably behind the phrase, "All SNUG in their beds."
5. Twinkle, twinkle little STAR????

Life in America has now become a gauntlet of potential offenses. The public square is teeming with trigger words, micro aggressions and privileges that need to be checked. So, keep your heads down out there, and just to be on the safe side...leave your mirrors at home!