From time to time, a story rises above the normal din of social media to accuse some unsuspecting individual of "cultural appropriation." Most recently, a seemingly-happy young woman who does not appear to be Chinese, was photographed wearing an attractive prom dress in a decorative style that did appear to be Chinese.
Upon seeing her photos, an outraged Xi Jinping called President Trump seeking redress.
China immediately slapped a 92 percent tariff on American dresses and told North Korea to keep its nukes.
Not quite. But some random troll claiming Chinese heritage composed an angry tweetstorm lambasting her for having appropriated "his" culture. Hordes of virtual villagers with pitchforks barraged her with hate tweets
While conservatives or otherwise normal people might find this story perplexing, progressives instinctively share the outrage.
To those mired in "old style thinking" (alternatively known as rationality, clear thought, or basic decency) a young woman happy with her appearance when dressed for prom is a joy that should be infectious — perhaps even praiseworthy in our era of body shaming.
To less-evolved progressive thinking, however, any random Chinese guy can take offense at a Chinese-style dress, and deploy his personal sense of outrage to savage a young woman just begging for public bullying.
Confusingly to non-progressives, the bully’s own Twitter profile depicts a young man claiming Chinese roots yet wearing very Western clothing, complete with a baseball hat.
Fortunately for the irate hordes, however, the rank hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness that typically accompany intolerant self-righteousness are hallmarks of the progressive mind. Ergo, no problem.
Those whose thinking has evolved beyond progressivism may thus fail to see cultural appropriation for the offense it is. Nevertheless, troubling stories like the one that unfolded this weekend demand attention. Random people claiming possessory rights to entire cultures threaten to undermine civil society.
Fortunately, the problem contains its own solution. The same logic that gives any member of an ethnicity the right to punish "misappropriators" also allows any member to grant license, in the presence of which all uses become appropriate. So herewith, as a public service: the Cultural Commons License.
Cultural Commons License
Whereas _________________________ (""Licensor") is an individual claiming bona fide personal genetic, cultural, or other connection to the people and/or traditions of __________________________ (insert name of country, ethnic group, nationality, tribe, or other description) “Culture;” and
Wheareas many people claiming no such connection to Culture find aspects or elements of Culture (“Elements”) attractive, intriguing, or otherwise worthwhile; and
Whereas said people may wish to incorporate Elements of Culture into their personal or artistic expressions; and
Whereas Licensor takes pride in Culture, believes Culture to have value, and deems its promulgation in the cultural commons to be full consideration for its use;
Licensor hereby grants any possessor (“Licensee”) of this Cultural Commons License (“License”) perpetual, full, and unrestricted rights to employ or incorporate any and/or all Elements of Culture into a personal or artistic expression, subject to the following:
- Legal Rights. This License applies only to Elements already in the public domain. Licensor claims no legal rights to any such Elements. Licensor recognizes that no individual or organization may ever claim possessory rights to anything, including Elements of Culture, already in the public domain. Licensee is thus free to use Elements with or without License. Licensor provides License solely to protect Licensee should anyone ever accuse Licensee of making unauthorized use of Elements of Culture.
- Necessity. The free dissemination, use, mixing, remixing, and reuse of Elements of Culture is a necessary component of human development, and particularly important to American culture. To the extent that anyone has a problem with "unauthorized" use, this License completely alleviates any potential offense.
- Jurisdiction. This License is fully enforceable in the Court of Public Opinion, with particular applicability to its Campus and Internet divisions.
- Venue. Anyone seeking to claim possessory rights in Elements of Culture notwithstanding this License can go to hell, or to whatever equivalent misery exits in their cultural narrative.
- Remedies. Anyone believing that this License is necessary to permit the incorporation of Elements into the broader culture should get a life.
- Copyrights. Though there is no basis for any individual or organization to claim proprietary rights in any public domain Elements of any Culture, copyright laws do apply to this License and the article in which it first appeared. Any protectable use of this license, in whole or in part, that cites to and/or links to the original article, written by Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon, and published on Newsmax, is explicitly licensed. Any unprotectable use should cite the article anyway, just to be nice.
Bruce Abramson is the President of Informationism, Inc., Vice President and Director of Policy at the Iron Dome Alliance, and a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. Jeff Ballabon is CEO of B2 Strategic, a Senior Fellow at the American Conservative Union's Center for Statesmanship and Diplomacy, and an advisor to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. To read more of their reports — Click Here Now.
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