A few weeks ago, Manchester Students’ Union voted to ban the act of clapping at its events so as not to distress those on the autism spectrum or with “sensory disorders”. The alternative was to use “jazz hands” or the British Sign Language clapping involving holding hands at head or shoulder height, palms facing forwards, and wiggling them.
The completely inaudible gesture won’t scare those who would otherwise be scared by loud noises, but of course is not much use to blind people.
The roots of jazz hands can also be traced back to African dance traditions and Al Jolson’s 1927 film, The Jazz Singer. The film is mainly remembered both for being the first ever “talkie,” with dialogue synchronised to the action, and also for Jolson’s incredibly offensive blackface minstrelsy. Or, in other words, racism and cultural appropriation.
And just to prove that it is possible to find offence in anything, apparently the latest racist thing it milk. In a post that I can’t decide is ironic or not:
For members of the alt-right, dairy milk symbolises strength of body and society; drinking it reinforces notions of white superiority and idealised visions of masculinity. Soy milk represents weakness, emasculation, and all things politically correct.
But how can drinking soy milk be more emasculating in those circumstances than drinking something produced by females to nourish the young like nothing else?
While there’s no doubting the positive aspects of what the Students’ Union was attempting, is it just again highlighting that you’ll never please everyone? Especially when offence can be found in everything.