My hands contain a total of ten digits. Eight fingers and two thumbs. Though these appendages are my own, social mores prevent me from raising my middle finger while in public, even if the reason is to point out the approach of a rapidly descending airplane, an oncoming train, an escaped tiger or the sudden spawning of a tornado. The United States FCC has banned the display of this gesture on broadcast television, declaring it an obscenity equal to the famous seven words that cannot be said on television. As a result, the gesture is often censored, airbrushed, or replaced with pixilated blocks.
How do we allow this nonsense to continue?
It’s my finger, damn it, and I should be able to do with it as I please, whether I’m standing on a public street, sitting in a concert hall, or humiliating myself in the latest reality television series.
Think about the ridiculousness of this situation. I can raise eight of my ten digits without concern, yet my middle finger is so God-awfully obscene that it must remain retracted at all times unless it is raised in concert with another digit.
I’ve spent the last fifteen minutes staring at my middle finger and I can’t find a single thing obscene about it.
I propose that we remove the stigma, and thereby the power of the middle finger by raising it incessantly. Rather than an indication of obscenity, let us replace the middle finger as a sign of joy, of happiness, or of imminent danger. Nothing angers me more than the arbitrary assigning of power to words or gestures that have no real meaning.
It reminds me of parents who forbid their children to use the word hate.
“Don’t say you hate broccoli, Johnny. Say you don’t like broccoli. Hate is a bad word.”
“No, Mom. I hate broccoli. I hate it like you hate the amount of beer that Daddy drinks every Saturday night before passing out on the couch in front of the Red Sox game. Or am I wrong, Mommy? Maybe it’s not hate after all. Do you not like it when Daddy gets so drunk that he pisses his pants and it leaks through to the sofa cushions?”
By forbidding a word as commonly used as hate or an appendage as universal as the middle finger, could we possibly imbue them with more power?
It’s time to end such nonsense. I propose Flip Me Off Friday. We all offer each other the middle finger in a sign of friendship and camaraderie.