It’s not for nothing that Park Slope has earned a reputation for political correctness. The Bobos, or “bourgeois bohemians,” with their Strand tote bags and expensive coifs, have a tradition of contorting themselves into unsightly shapes to avoid offending anyone. But 2006 saw the neighborhood take the PC-craze to new heights (or new lows, depending on your perspective). Here are some of our favorite moments:
Going hat-sh#t: A silly little hat, with multi-colored, stegosaurus-like scales jutting from the top, engendered — make that mis-gendered — an online imbroglio so vitriolic you’d think someone had been killed. After a kind stranger found a lost hat on a street corner, she posted a “lost and found” notice on the Park Slope Parents message board, listing the item as a “boy’s” hat. That enraged another message board user, setting off a back-and-forth exchange so venomous that it found its way into New York Magazine, Gawker, and, of course, The Brooklyn Papers. Yet when our own Smartmom columnist asked the original message-poster if she had been irritated by her neighbors’ hypersensitivity, she said she wasn’t bothered because “it was all about free speech.” How’s that for PC?
Protecting the Perv: A middle-aged man allegedly molested a 13-year-old girl and who’s the victim? He is, of course! You see, the alleged molestation happened on Third Street, in Park Slope, and the enraged mother posted flyers up and down her block warning her neighbors of the menace. Soon, many of those very neighbors complained that she had smeared the man — an alleged child molester, lest we forget — without a fair trial.
Food fight: The Papers mortally offended some readers when we suggested that the Park Slope Food Co-op’s famously liberal practices — including that Co-op members provide security for the supermarket — might have been responsible for a recent spate of pick-pocketing. The article suggested that perhaps if the “security guards” were less fearful of offending anyone, they might be more apt to check the bags of suspicious shoppers. But then, of course, everyone would have to agree on a definition of “suspicious.”
Agnostic Rabbi: Only in Park Slope would you get a rabbi who doesn’t particularly believe in God — and will go on the record about it. Rabbi Andy Bachman became the new leader of Congregation Beth Elohim, and during an interview with The Brooklyn Papers, Bachman confessed: “Ultimately, none of us can really know [if there is a God]. I never read a conclusive proof that there is or is not.” In Park Slope, even rabbis are eager not to offend anyone — even atheists.
Unnatural order: It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature in Park Slope — even if you’re trying to save the life of a defenseless animal. That became abundantly clear when a woman tossed a stick at a hawk that was about to chow down on one of Prospect Park’s beloved albino squirrels. In return for prolonging the life of the adorable little mascot, the stick-thrower was lambasted on the Park Slope Parents Web site for interfering with nature (and possibly violating international migratory bird treaties). The jury is still out on whether she’ll be banished to Sunset Park.