So, it’s been an interesting week, what with the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of healthcare subsidies and declaring that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
I live in the South.
I’m surprised I haven’t seen or heard more heads exploding in sheer and utter shock.
But I haven’t heard the explosions, and I can only assume that this is a good thing.
I have heard some other things that I don’t see as quite so promising.
The first thing I heard/ saw on the social networks, was the inevitable slippery slope arguments: “Well, what’s to stop groups of people getting married, or people marrying their pets, or even pedophiles marrying children?”
A couple of things here:
1) There is no good moral argument for why groups of consenting adults should not be able to marry – as a group.
2) Marrying their pets? Really? First, that’s just fucking silly. Second, I’m sure the ASPCA would have something to say about the inherent cruelty to animals.
3) Pedophiles? What the actual fuck? Why is it that seemingly religious minded people always default to equating anything they don’t like with pedophilia? Is it some obsession, intrinsic to religion, that always has these god-botherers talking about screwing kids? Or is it that hard core religion just tends to attract that type of person? Or is it a bit of both? I don’t know, but you’d think at least one of these religious types might stand up and say, “Hey guys, maybe we should stop talking about violating the youth, you know, in light of our past records on the matter?”
Of course, looking for common sense in religion is like looking for a virgin in a whorehouse; sure, you might find one, but the chances are seriously fucking slim.
More broadly, why don’t people know, why haven’t they figured out that the slippery slope argument holds no weight. Just because you say one thing might lead to another, doesn’t mean that it will. So, for the sake of public discourse – something, I’m sure you know is essential for the functioning of a democracy – can we find better ways to argue than to constantly trot out that tired old fallacy? That would be great.
But, and lest you think that this logical fallacy is the only impediment to public discourse, there is another, perhaps more pernicious problem. And it pops up in our media – who should fucking know better – and in our rhetoric: Straw Man arguments.
The straw man argument is also a logical fallacy. It consists of taking an opponent’s view, contorting it all out of proportion and reason, and then attacking the view of the argument that you, yourself have created.
And it happens all the fucking time in this country. The media, and politicians are particularly at susceptible to this type of crime against reason, because both those groups essentially exist, survive, and thrive on ratings – popularity. And people that thrive on ratings and popularity tend to reach for the inflammatory more often than not.
But there is a pernicious version of the straw man fallacy which has popped its hay-filled head up to scare away the crow-like masses: just fucking fabricating the facts.
I was listening to some evangelical, rail on NPR today, about the Supreme Court’s ruling. He stamped his foot and raised his voice and got downright righteously indignant about the court trying to use the law to force him to perform marriages that are against his religious convictions.
(For my two cents, I’m not sure anyone in the business of making money actually has any religious convictions. But that’s another rant entirely.)
I’ve heard this same ranting and raving from other sources, both religious and political. And I have a question…
Really. What the fuck are you talking about?
The law doesn’t say a damn word about infringing on anyone’s ability to practice their religion. You just made that shit up.
It does say that government officials have to obey the law, and in this case, offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
You get that?
Not churches and not clergy.
Just the fucking government.
And yet, these morons, one of which has recently announced he’s running for the presidency of these United States, are railing about the government “forcing” them to act against their religious beliefs.
Sorry guys, not the case here.
Nothing in the Supreme Court’s decision states that religious institutions have to, by law or any other way, perform ceremonies not in keeping with their particular doctrine/ dogma.
Not. A. Fucking. Word.
So why are these asshats, on the radio and other media, getting so bent out of shape?
The answer to that question, like many other problems, lies in the question itself: those two words, radio, and, media.
It’s just to get attention folks.
It’s a smoke screen. A way to gin up support and contributions. A way to make even more of the money roll in to their greedy little coffers.
It’s marketing. That’s all.
And, being marketing, we can pretty much safely assume it’s bullshit. It might be dressed up pretty, but an ass in a prom dress is still an ass, and it just happens to be hitched to a wagon that is making these greedy little shitbirds millions of dollars.
So, why do we keep falling for it? Why, as a culture do the vast, seething masses of us seem to dance to whatever tune these maniacal minstrels deem fit to play?
I think it’s because we’re afraid.
And not of what two consenting adults wish to do to and with each other in the privacy of their own homes.
(Although, it’s increasingly clear that some of these public pundits are actually afraid of what two consenting adults might be doing… …Again, a point for another post.)
I think the media and the politicians and religion in general have made their bank on pushing people to conform to certain standards; standards that benefit whoever is doing the pushing. In most cases I do genuinely think it is about money, and by extension, power.
But, and the grown ups reading this should recognize this as a common fact: people are easily swayed by fear.
It’s easier to motivate someone through fear than it is to inspire them to action.
So how does it go? Want someone to move right, get them shit-scared about what’s on the left, and let human nature take its course.
But, this kind of thing has been going on forever, right?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, people in power, or who want power have often to almost always used fear to get what they want from the populace.
No, in that, only since the advent of radio, television, and the internet has it been so easy to do so much with so little, in regards to ratcheting up the fear of the citizenry.
And, I think, if you look around at the country we’re living in, you’ll see the evidence everywhere, that the job of making people afraid has been thoroughly done, and well.
And now provoking fear is about the easiest thing in America. Provoking indignation comes in a distant second.
Face it, there are only two options, as far as I can tell, to explain why we buy so much of the fear-mongering that gets peddled nowadays:
1) We have, collectively and individually, become idiots and are no longer capable of thinking for ourselves, critically or otherwise.
2)We live in a culture where we always feel like we are a knife edge away from being attacked; from having to defend what’s ours.
On bad days in traffic I lean towards the former, but realistically, I think it’s more likely the case of the latter.
I think we have been conditioned to constantly be on our guard, lest our precious property be taken away from us.
And while we’re scared about losing our stuff, we are that much more susceptible to being herded in whatever direction someone crafty enough to bark in the right tone chooses.
And then we lose our liberty.
Not just in the form of doing what we like – which isn’t so much liberty to begin with, but a shadow we’ve been tricked into thinking is the actual light – but in the form of deciding, for ourselves what we will think. What we will tolerate. What we will support, condone, or fight.
And it may actually be too late, even to retain that.
The fight might have been lost – for our culture – a generation ago.
But maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for you; hope for the individual yet.
I don’t give it good odds, not with what I see when I look around. But maybe.