12 September 2009

The Right to Be an Asshole

I’m not 100% behind Thers’ defense of the Right to Be an Asshole, but he makes a generally persuasive case. I personally find the assault on reason waged by the right to be offensive, because I respect intelligence and, you know, facts ’n stuff. But I can still find people who disagree with my views -- or Obama’s -- with specific reasons, backed up with research or quotes or facts. And that’s great. I learn, maybe they learn, we can argue/debate the points with respect.

But this new, parallel attack on Obama for just being “uppity” has its roots not in good old-fashioned Opposition Party politics, but in plain-jane racism. I grew up in the deep south in the 60s and 70s, I know a Klansman even with his hood off -- and I’m horrified to see the “slave states” and their hate-based leaders rising to prominence on a wave of race-baiting and “white paranoia.”

As ugly as their behaviour is, its possibly more infuriating to me that they get the majority of attention/airtime/“serious” punditry despite the fact that poll and after poll after poll, over the course of the last three years at least, has shown pretty conclusively that these ignor-racists only make up roughly 20-25% of the population (which of course is alarmingly high, but pretty far from a majority). Over and over again, roughly 70-80% of America is basically progressive in nature, and about 20-25% are batshit nutty. You see the same split on healthcare as you do on whether Bigfoot exists.

The most recent example: Liberals enraged over Asshole Joe “Wrong Way” Wilson immediately set up a fund for his 2010 rival, a former-nobody named Rob Miller. Wilson’s supporters then set up their own fund. As of today, it looks like Miller has raised $750,000 $850,000 or so, Wilson about $200,000 or so. See the pattern? If they only got 25% of the airtime, instead of 75%, I could probably cope with it and laugh it off as all intelligent people should.

But Thers sees Wilson’s actions as fundamentally American in nature, overlooking the fact that Wilson is a first-class hypocrite (he’s been on TRICARE or the Congressional health-care plans -- both government-run -- his entire adult life) and a member of a racist, insurrection-supporting hate group (the Sons of the Confederacy). I sorta see what Thers means -- you can always count on the American to be the one to swing from the chandelier, moon the Queen and generally break the rules of civilised society in the name of being a “rebel” -- so Thers isn’t bothered by the breach of protocol, but wants to see Wilson et al take the consequences of his actions:

Let's play Moron's Advocate. Hey, maybe you sincerely believe that a hypothetical clause in a hypothetical bill might hypothetically lead to what would even hypothetically be a functionally negligible amount of non-citizens getting healthcare on the public dime, as opposed to just dying on the public dime in the system that currently obtains. And maybe you sincerely believe this sort of paranoid race-baiting horseshit is worth not taking action to reform the worst healthcare system in the developed world. Fair enough!
So go ahead, golf clap for this Wilson fellow. He stood up for his embarrassing dickhead crazy asshole beliefs, and now is getting his Reward.

Sadly, that’s the part where America’s “rebel” act tends to fall down. We don’t tend to properly punish “bad boys” but rather reward them. Isn’t Rudy 9u11ani still allowed to show his face in public and pretend he’s a great man, despite the fact that he’s so vile his own children disown him? Isn’t Dick Cheney free to continue shooting his friends in the face, and his mouth off on my teevee? Isn’t David Vitter still in office (and presumably still in diapers)?

But Thers would rather than more politicians “get real” and be rude if necessary, and perhaps he’s right. I know I cringe when I hear false Republican “apologies” that amount to “I’m proud to be a douche, and will continue being a douche, but I’m real sorry if that bothers you, there I apologised now let’s drop it.” I don’t like that any more than I like William Jefferson’s indignity about having his office raided when he was clearly on the take, and all the BS that issued henceforth about his innocence. As Thers says:

There is nothing so deeply American as calling the President of the United States of America a liar.
Sometimes, indeed, the President of the United States tells lies. I believe history will support me on this. And when this happens, Americans should say "you're a liar, Mr. President," even if to do so is Shocking.
For instance, I honestly do not think anyone from the Bush administration should be able to speak in public without being pelted with garbage, because I quite sincerely believe that they all told lies that ended up killing lots of people. Because, you know, they did.
Truth is a higher value than civility.

Ah, but there’s the rub. It’s okay to call the President a liar if he actually is lying. Okay, I’ll buy that, but the problem in this case is that -- well, the President wasn’t lying, as Keith Olbermann masterfully pointed out on Thursday.

So his attack on False Civility has roots in truth, but that’s just because Thers has apparently never lived in a country where people genuinely believe in Civility and don’t have to force it, or pretend, or live a lie -- that’s actually how they are all the time.

Luckily, I do.*

*okay, maybe not at hockey games -- but the rest of the time ...

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