Don’t yuck my yum is a Facebook era admonishment that means if you don’t like some harmless thing I’m saying or doing, just be quiet about it. You don’t have to chime in with your negative reaction. Our interpersonal relationship can go forward with mutual good will.

I first came across the phrase in an article by a right-of-center pundit who was mocking a Hillary Clinton organizer for making it a meeting ground rule. My immediate inclination was to join the pundit in laughing at adults using such adolescent-sounding terminology in the political arena. But after a few minutes of thought I came to a different evaluation. Isn’t the phrase a nifty shorthand for the usual rules of brainstorming? You know: Get all the ideas out. No reactions or criticisms at this point, just let it all flow. Everyone contributes without fear or embarrassment. We’ll go back and pick up on the best ideas later.

So yeah, don’t yuck my yum sounds a bit childish but I kind of like what it implies for civility and fellow feeling among individuals with interests that may or may not intersect. Maybe it’s a girl thing. I can’t imagine my husband saying it.

America could use a good dose of don’t-yuck-my-yum kindness today. Suppose you get together with friends for the Super Bowl and one of them expresses enthusiasm for President Trump’s cabinet picks. You happen to disagree. In fact, you think the new Secretary of Apparatchiks is a bogeyman in pinstripes. Can you suppress the retort on the tip of your tongue, or do you let it fly, lest for one soon-to-be-forgotten moment your friends mistakenly assume you’re so depraved or unsophisticated as to be okay with Mr. Bogeymen?

Well, if you want everyone to enjoy your time together watching the Patriots win, you’ll just smile and change the subject. Don’t yuck my yum is a ground rule for maintaining friendships. I mean, you like these people. You have a history with them. Maybe you vacationed together. Or were in each other’s weddings. Or you like meeting up at different beer tasting rooms. Or you work out together.  Are you going to allow a difference over politics to change all that? I hope not. Say it together: Go TB12!


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All that said, I do think there’s a behavior that’s worse than yucking my yum. It’s me bullying you into yumming what I yum, or yucking what I yuck. Or worse still, it’s me getting the power of the government behind me to force you to pay for or do something I yum, or to outlaw what I yuck.

Many people think it’s virtuous to use force in the service of yums that are their preferred ideals for “the betterment of society,” even if doing so would require some “other” to violate his own ideals. Perversely, when this “other” refuses to go along, he is the one who is accused of trying to impose his ideals on others. I think the direction in which the force is being applied makes all the difference in deciding who’s being oppressed.

So, an illustration.

A particular yum for a coveted voting block is free birth control. As a bribe to this voting block the authors of the Affordable Care Act mandated that employers had to provide health insurance for their employees, and it had to include a free contraception benefit. No exceptions.

A privately owned company called Hobby Lobby objected to being forced to comply with the contraception mandate. The owners are strictly observant Christians who view contraception, especially the forms of contraception that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, as sinful. Paying for that to happen was untenable for them, so they asked for relief on grounds of religious liberty. They won in court.

To me this looks like an instance of force being initiated by the yum side against the yuck side. The yuck side’s ideals happen to be protected by the First Amendment, so they prevailed (although this is not at all how the Supreme Court decision reads, of course!).

To the people who yuck the Christians’ yum, this looks like an instance of the Christians forcing their religion on the women who work for them.

Whose spin is right? Hint: it’s my blog, so I’m right.

Look where the force was directed by the ACA: at the employer. No force has been applied against the employees as a result of the court decision. They retain the freedom to use contraceptives, and there are a variety of ways they can obtain them, affordably. If they feel really put out by this inconvenience, they can take their skills and knowledge to a new employer who is in full compliance with the ACA.

No one has imposed religious beliefs on anyone. To say otherwise is an overwrought reaction to a fair and just outcome in the balancing of yums. Going forward, if you don’t like religious exclusions like this, then stop imposing intrusive laws that put believers in that position. Simple, right?

Now, as we head into Super Bowl weekend, here’s a message for Patriots-haters: Don’t yuck my yum!

Go Pats!


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