Dr. Suess and Mr. Potato Head

Dear Rabbi
What do dodge ball, Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head and this week’s parshah Emor have in common? Well in my opinion, according to what I have read and heard lately, they are all either “politically incorrect” or should be banned under the concept of “cancel culture”.
If you say that someone is politically incorrect, you mean that they do not care if they offend or upset other people in society who have a disadvantage, or who have been treated differently because of their sex, gender, race, or disability.
What is cancel culture? First and foremost it is punitive when it comes to issues of race, gender, sexuality and related topics. Transgressions must be punished no matter how long ago they occurred.
How does this all come together? Starting with dodge ball, it has been banned as a game played in many schools because allegedly it is a form of bullying or discriminating against those that are not as physically coordinated as others. The theory being that you throw the ball at those that cannot catch it and thus eliminate them from the game first, which causes great embarrassment and shame.
Dr. Suess, who is one of the most beloved writers of children’s books, has had several of his booked removed from bookshelves because they allegedly discriminate against certain nationalities.
I cannot really understand the hoopla surrounding Mr. Potato Head except that somehow distinguishing gender offends someone. (By the way Hasbro, the maker of Mr. Potato Head, says that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head will remain, only the packaging will not be gender “based”, whatever that means.)
Now let’s get to the real culprit when it comes to offending someone because of a disability, the Almighty. In the Second Aliyah, Leviticus 21:17-21 G-d instructs Moses as follows:
“Speak to Aaron, saying: Any man among your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect, shall not come near to offer up his G-d's food.
For any man who has a defect should not approach: A blind man or a lame one, or one with a sunken nose or with mismatching limbs; or a man who has a broken leg or a broken arm;
or one with long eyebrows, or a cataract, or a commingling in his eye; dry lesions or weeping sores, or one with crushed testicles 
Any man among Aaron the kohen's offspring who has a defect shall not draw near to offer up the Lord's fire offerings. There is a defect in him; he shall not draw near to offer up his G-d's food.”
How do you justify this? It even seems to go against what we learned just this past week in Parshah Achare-Kedoshim where in Leviticus19:15 and 18 the following is stated:
“You shall commit no injustice in judgment; you shall not favor a poor person or respect a great man; you shall judge your fellow with righteousness.
You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
For writing what I stated above, I am probably going to be stoned like the man who committed blasphemy in the Seventh Aliyah, but I do not understand what appears to be a double standard.
To me dodge ball is a metaphor for winning and losing. I do not believe that everyone should get a trophy for “just showing up” as is practiced in Little League and the like. There are winners and losers in life and those that are sheltered from this reality are not being taught what will happen when one has to venture out into the world on his or her own.
Dr. Seuss made storytelling to children something they wanted to hear and references made at a time that they were written should not be held against someone at a later time because it is now deemed offensive.
I defy anyone to explain the Mr. Potato Head “controversy”. It seems that we have reached a point where there can be no differences in people despite the fact that we are of different colors, races, genders, nationalities, religions and some of us have deformities that were not of our making. Someone should not be mocked for being “different” but to me common sense dictates that we take a deep breath and stop trying to create a “perfect” society wherein no one is considered “different”. It seems to me that a “Stepford Wife” society is terrible and boring. We are moving towards robots taking over everything and some of today’s attitudes toward “difference” borders on insanity.
Even though we are created in G-d’s image, I suppose the Lord deserves his preferences and who are we as mere mortals to question what the Almighty wants. 


Dear Mordecai,
You certainly caught my attention with that opening. I'm glad you've brought up one of the most pressing issues in our society today - "cancel culture." You are right to see cancel culture as a descendent of political correctness. Political correctness, as you point out, never possessed the punitive dimension that cancel culture does. Additionally, cancel culture knows nothing of a statute of limitations. 
I certainly remember dodge ball in elementary school. It was one of my favorite games. I was decent at it, but I do know how embarrassing "getting out" could be. 
I was a reader of Dr. Suess but probably Roald Dahl had a greater impact on me, and you know the problems with him. 
If you find difficulty understanding the hoopla around Mr. Potato Head and gender, then I suggest you spend some time with a group of college students. Gender has been the rage for some time, and giving offense to someone who asserts a gender that differs from their sex is to be avoided at all costs. 
Having read the parsha before reading your email, I had a sense that you might be driving toward the section that you cite on the physical blemishes or handicaps of a kohen.
This teaching is unjustifiable and raises enormous questions. Did G-d write the Torah? He couldn’t have written the Torah is this is in it. I will deal with the question of how to approach this passage in my sermon this week. I understand why the human receivers of the Torah may have included this, but at this point, the concept behind it has been overruled.
Is what you have said blasphemy or is it an iteration of “Shall not the judge of all the earth deal justly?” (18:25)
You are absolutely right about winners and losers. How do you deal with personalities like Donald Trump or Charlie Sheen who always speak of “winning"? Also, consider the famous song from the nineties by Beck, “Loser.” Right now, I am reading the book The Coddling of the American Mind, which speaks to your point about how a generation is being “sheltered” from this reality.
I agree with you about cancel culture, but how do you stop it?
I am not familiar with the reference to “Stepford Wives.” I had to look it up. I would say that the perfect society that cancel culture seeks to create it more terrible than boring. I agree with you that what we are seeing does border on insanity. As we have seen throughout the modern era, efforts to perfect society create destruction.  
I find your conclusion about G-d’s preferences intriguing. Are you alluding once again to Israel and the patriarchs’ choseness?

Dear Rabbi,

It seems that we are in agreement to much of what I posed but you are correct in stating that I am not in tune with what college students are thinking these days. College life used to consist of hearing divergent views and making up one's mind after hearing all sides. It seems to me that if one were to present a radical view on the right, that person may not even be allowed to speak. As Jews, we should be aware of the entire "BDS Movement" that probably has its roots with Arab financial backing. Israel's position is not being represented properly.
As to gender, I remember something that happened in a classroom in law school during the beginning of my freshman year. You have to understand that when I first attended law school back in 1970, the entering class was approximately 230 of which there were only eight women. Today I think of myself as a dinosaur and I would be willing to bet that more than fifty percent of the entering class at any particular law school is female. Anyway, the professor was calling out the names of those of us that were in the class so that he could gain any sort of familiarity with who was there and when he came to a male he would start the request of who you were by calling you "Mr." When it was a female he would start off by asking if  it was "Miss" or "Mrs." Understand the Woman's Lib movement was in its infancy and most of the women in the class answered either "Miss" or Mrs." When asked, one particular woman answered "Ms." Undeterred, the professor came back and asked is it Ms. Miss or Ms. Mrs.?   Today that professor would have been called into HR, which did not even exist in those days.  
As to my reference to G-d's preferences, sometimes you read too much into what I write. I merely meant, who are we to question what the Almighty wants. When I was starting out as a lawyer, one of my mentors, had a brilliant mind but had a tremendous character flaw. He was an out and out alcoholic. Before I knew about his problem, he called me in to his office and stated to me that I should do what he says not what he does. He taught me a great deal about the law and I did not follow nor judge him on his personal habits. 

Dear Mordecai,
Israel’s position is most certainly not being represented properly. Israel is regularly defamed and slandered.
That’s quite a story from your days in law school. I don’t yearn for that world, but it demonstrates how far we’ve come, and I don’t mean that as a statement about progress. Now, people are being asked if they should be called “he” or “she.”
I agree that we are in no position to question what the Almighty wants, but how do we know what He wants? Is it what Scripture declares? How can we know G-d’s will?

Dear Rabbi,
Not that I want to explain what you are to do, but it seems to me that your last series of questions is for you to figure out. 

Dear Mordecai,