CSotD: Hooked on Hate

Paul Fell comments on an extremely toxic part of the world we’ve built.

I, too, liked it better when you could believe that false, hateful rhetoric was perhaps a misunderstanding, a difference of interpretation.


What I really liked was the world referenced in this 2005 Jeff Danziger cartoon that I’ve run many times, a world in which you could believe that stupid, hateful things were just examples of individual insanity with no greater significance.

It’s no longer subtle, it’s no longer individual, and it’s no longer possible to laugh it off.

It’s also becoming harder to dismiss it as unintentional: This piece from the Spectator talks about Twitter’s targeting of people in order to earn clicks by promoting and profiting from group hostility, comparing it to the Two Minutes of Hate in “1984.”

That’s not much of a stretch. I am one of those people who watch “Law & Order” reruns, and while it is a smart, if formulaic, show, the programs being promoted around it appear to be nothing more than people screaming at each other and normalizing behavior that was once dismissed as things decent people didn’t do.

It is disheartening because, if garbage shows about garbage people didn’t attract an audience, nobody would bother producing them.

But let’s not load it all on Mama June and “Love After Lockup,” because prime time network shows are only superficially more highbrow: Too many of them capitalize on our desire to dip into a world in which horrific, gruesome crime is just around the corner.

It doesn’t matter whether you watch or not: You still have to live in a carefully curated Idiocracy where, when a rambunctious puppy gets out of the house, a passing woman shoots at it and hits her own five-year-old kid in the stomach.

Which happened in a state where 16 bad addresses out of millions and millions of ballots requires voter suppression laws, but 3,353 deaths by firearms in a single year merits a new law making it easier for paranoid nincompoops to wander around packing heat.


I like this solution in Arctic Circle (KFS) and wish (A) it were real and then (B) that we could apply it to all bogus misinformation people forward to each other and the world.


But that toothpaste is long since out of the tube and, while xkcd capitalizes on nonsensical stats mostly for the sake of a pun, totally bogus facts really are all over the Intertubes, including those like-farming posts that claim “90% won’t get it right!”

Which appeals to people who are delighted to find themselves among the 10% of geniuses who can name a movie that has a vowel in its title.

And who cheerfully do so!


After which they express surprise and horror to find that, like Rory in The Barn (AMS), they are just one more sheep who has been fleeced.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Betty – AMS)


(Barney & Clyde – WPWG)

Belief in UFOs has long been a double-edged sword, in that it was foolish to believe that little green men were out there making crop-circles and performing surgery on cattle, but it was also foolish to think nothing was at least theoretically out there.

My department head in college wrote extensively about UFOs, not in terms of cattle mutilations but in terms of the probability of more advanced civilizations and how possible it might be for them to (A) build light-speed craft and (B) find us.

The revelation that we’ve seen things we don’t understand is not much of a revelation at all. We see all sorts of things we don’t understand, mostly things that we think we do understand. The triumphalist concept that we now understand everything is absolute foolishness.

I’m, obviously, in a mood today to agree with Betty’s common sense approach, because I’m not finding observing Earth to be worth the effort even from here.

Then again, there are scientists who spend their entire careers observing naked mole rats and lichen and god knows what else, so maybe there are scientists who travel vast distances to watch us.

Which is to say that we don’t have to be the most interesting thing in the universe to be able to get somebody’s attention. Maybe they’re all college freshmen, in the equivalent of one of those survey biology courses where you slice the planaria’s head in two so you can see that it heals into a two-headed flatworm.

After which they move on to observing some planet that is less primitive and more interesting.

Or maybe we’re just some scenic overlook on the Interplanetary Highway, with signage suggesting travelers pull over for a look on their way to their actual destination.

If so, I’m glad they’re not like Star Fleet people who keep citing the Prime Directive of not interfering and then doing it anyway.

After all, as Barney & Clyde note, we’re fully capable of both screwing ourselves up and screwing ourselves down without any outside assistance.


Case in Point: Harry Bliss, for all his striving to live an isolated artist’s life — and if you are a cartoonist who’d like to give that a shot, it’s not too late — must surely be watching Daytime TV, because this Bliss (AMS) suggests that he has picked up on ads for screens that go over your gutters.

Again, the ads wouldn’t exist if people didn’t respond to them.

They feature a not-at-all-staged gathering of homeowners in which they are reminded of the danger of ladders, at which point a wife nudges her husband and reminds him that she married a goddam moron, which seems like her problem, not his.

I mean, Dagwood has been regularly hanging from the gutters for nearly a century, and he’s still around.

Mostly being nagged for not cleaning out the gutters.


All is not lost

Today’s blog having been a downer, here’s a switch: Steve Brodner’s salute to a Dallas kid who gives me hope.

As someone with five granddaughters from 12 to 24, I can vouch for the fact that there are other smart, thoughtful young women coming up in this world.

We need more kids who throw away their “faculty approved” speeches and more classmates who applaud them for speaking up against the world they’ve been handed.


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