Author’s Story Perpetuates Stereotyping

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Stereotypes are unfair and should be avoided. People should be judged by their own actions, not by the perceived characteristics of the group to which they belong. Certainly it is terrible that Muslims were attacked back in 2001, as well as other groups who were mistaken for Muslims after 9/11. I think that’s the point of the Jan. 2 story on the cover of the Indy.  It’s a good point and it’s great that we live in a country where people are free to criticize and write what they want.

The problem with the story is that in the process of hoping to illustrate the perils of stereotyping people, the author employs dozens of stereotypes, and some of them are doozies. Laguna Beach residents drive Hummers, have “botox fish lip[s]”, and “masquerade as open minded liberals” with only a “fleeting philanthropic streak,” while conservatives eat meat and gravy, wear fur, and are racist.  The author’s letter to the editor continued by concluding that Laguna is a “conservative community…resistant to reflecting”, and OC “lacks a literary community that places value on all forms of art.”

When I read the story, I thought, ‘‘Yikes, I hope this is a social/artistic experiment where the author is using irony to illustrate how bad it is to paint people with a broad brush, by painting the likely readers with a broad brush.’’

Again, free speech is great, but it just seems like a bad idea to speak against being put in a box by putting people in a box.  I hope the author doesn’t really look around and see people as caricatures like those in the story, instead of real, distinct people with their own variety of backgrounds, opinions, personalities, and behavior.

Susan Elliott, Laguna Beach

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