During a recent TV political program featuring bickering talking heads, I heard one Progressive activist say to a conservative Trump supporter, "People like you don't deserve a dog!"
That stopped me in my tracks. I think that verbal assault illustrates how depraved and condescending so much of our social dialogue has become. For one person to suggest their political opponent was not qualified to own a pet dog was, in my view, beyond just an insult. It was beyond condescension. It was below the belt! It has no place in any civil discourse.
Why are they dragging man's best friend into the discussion, anyway?
But it was also very revealing! The person saying it was claiming that the conservative has no compassion, no sense of responsibility, and should never be given the opportunity to care for or own a dog. And by implication, that means their judgement on civil matters or to exercise power in any form should be ignored and denied.
These are typically the same know-it-alls that tell us not to refer to our animal friends as "pets" because that is the same thing as slavery. By keeping dogs and providing them protection and food in exchange for affection, pet owners are denying them their liberty.
But aren't these same celebrity hypocrites carrying their comfort dogs in their purses? Wrapping their snakes around their shoulders in the grocery store? The same PETA activists that chastise everyone else while they build elaborate private zoos in their million dollar backyards?
"PETA is committed to a future in which people would not be able to own pets, claiming on their website “The selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering,” Their vision includes a future in which our dogs and cats would be successively neutered into extinction."
On this particular TV show, the panelist called himself a Progressive Democrat, but what he just proposed is very regressive. It harkens back to World War II and the reign of Stalin and Hitler. If you are not all in with us, then you don't deserve to live!. This TV talking head has appointed himself God. He alone knows with moral certainty what qualifies as compassionate animal treatment.
We all know some people mistreat their pets, but that is not what the discussion was about. The issue was public policy and how we should manage our community or national affairs. It was about the political response to the COVID19 pandemic, and one side said the Trump administration was responsible for 400K deaths because President Trump initially suggested the situation would be controlled without massive government intervention. The Progressive Democrat said the Trump defender was a threat and a monster because conservatives in general have no compassion for suffering.
Talk shows are our modern version of the public square where we discuss policy and procedure and exercise our civility. Sometimes the subject matter can be obtuse and vacuous, other times it can have massive implications for civilization. Talk shows are Americanism on display. We invented the TV news talk show format to bring together educated adults, to exchange mature and informed ideas about our communities and how we can improve them. In the traditions of iconic broadcasters like Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, and others, Americans have benefitted from the most open, wide ranging and unfiltered political discussions in the history of mankind. This discussion was serious and important and deserved a high level of respectful discussion.
I didn't tune in to watch The Gong Show!
It featured a panel of so-called "experts" in their field of study and political analysis. The attack on the Trump supporter was not meant to be humorous. The program was a production of the news department of a major media cable system. It has major advertisers that spend millions of dollars to put these shows on the air so the viewers will associate their memories of the show with the complimentary images of the sponsors products. This association results in, theoretically, brand awareness and favorability. The talent receives big time financial compensation for their participation.
If I was a sponsor of a show where one of the "expert guests" used abusive insults to discredit the integrity of the opposition, I would fire the producer. You have to ask yourself, how can those people allow the discussion to devolve into such a disgusting personal assault? How can this contempt for propriety benefit the sponsor?
But this has become all too common in modern television news and talk programs.
I think I can offer some insight to why this is happening throughout our culture…Remember when the movie Young Frankenstein came out? The aid to Dr. Fronkinsteen, Eye-Gore, played by Marty Feldman in his most diabolical and hilarious role ever, was assigned to retrieve the brain so the good doctor could place it in the skull of the newly completed monster. Later, when the monster goes mad and wreaks havoc on the village, and suspects he may have used the wrong brain, Dr. Fronkinsteen, played by Gene Wilder, asks Eye Gore, "do you mind telling me which brain I put in?"
Eye-Gore says "Abby Something."
Wilder calmly asks "Abby who?"
"Abby Normal, I think."
I will come back to this analogy later, but I want to set the table first...In the year 2021 we all have cable, broadcast, online streaming and social media platforms from which to choose, for our entertainment and news sources. There are literally thousands of feeds available to us. And this leads to fierce competition for attention, which in kind leads to unbelievable forms of self adulation and promotion. It leads to a Ringling Brothers Circus of perversions to attract audience share.
Talk and news show guests have to justify their existence and their enormous salaries. They have to demonstrate the reason they are privileged to appear on a nationwide broadcast. They have to be the two-headed monster at the three ring circus that draws viewers. They are groomed to be outrageous and controversial. Credibility and accuracy are not as important as shock and flamboyance. Our social intercourse, which mirrors these cultural icons, has devolved into meaningless verbal exercises in political and cultural mental masturbation.
In other words, serious discussions are now just another form of theater.
By saying his opponent is so worthless that he should be denied the company of a dog, the panelist is, by implication, saying his own value system is superior. So what is his value system? Where did he get the idea that his values are superior to conservatives, or anyone else for that matter? Where did he get the authority to be so presumptuous?
He is most likely a graduate of one of our major universities...he is illustrative of why so many people are asking, "How did our society get here?"
When did America descend into such a cesspool of anger and vitriol? When did we abandon any sense of propriety? Half the population HATES the other half. But what is unintentionally ironic, is that that half believes with all their heart that they are the forgiving, the compassionate and the diverse half. They are convinced conservatives want to march them into gulags. They rail against HATE, and conflate any form of criticism with fascism and authoritarianism. They epitomize what they condemn.
They do, however, have an excuse. They were taught in Progressive schools that it is inappropriate to criticize, to challenge or to refute. They never learned how to make polemic arguments, how to make their case, or how to dissemble the arguments of their opponents. Instead, they were taught that their opponents have no value, and therefore don't deserve to be argued with. They were taught that offering a well structured set of reasons their opponent is wrong, they would justify their existence. Therefore, dont. Just dismiss them as ignorant and mean spirited, and move on.
For decades our students have been taught that they are victims, and victims should demonstrate outrage whenever they are challenged. They have been taught that conservatism equates with social injustice and anger and violence are justified to discredit conservatism.
Facebook, Twitter, television, and even entertainment formats like films and music, are filled with anger and vitriol. We ask ourselves what is wrong with these people? Why do they have to bring their anger and profanity to every forum? Why do they have to drag kids and dogs into the fray? Why do they have to interrupt speeches and disrupt public events to bring attention to themselves and their so-called "righteous" causes?
Let me return now to my analogy about Young Frankenstein. When Eye Gore mistakenly handed the maniacal Dr. Fronkinsteen the wrong brain, he didn't have any bad intentions. He was simply doing what Eye Gore always does, he screws up! The character was established early in the story to be somewhat dimwitted. The crazy and self obsessed mad scientist, in a perpetual hurry to become famous, to be the first to reanimate a dead corpse, the first to make a hybrid human monster, was simply too busy and lazy, to take the time to assure the right brain was implanted in his monster's head!
So he delegated the responsibility to someone he employs.
Dr. Fronkensteen was too important to spend his precious time to actually perform the most important function of his scheme! No, he would assign that relatively menial task to the town idiot! Then complain later when his invention, his groundbreaking new species, his earth shattering creation, ran amok!
That makes the Doctor a victim! No responsibility, no accountability! But what matters is he stands to get all the celebrity, all of the attention, no matter how much damage his scientific first causes! Isn't this the same scenario we see over and over with arrogant narcissists who insist they know what's best for society? Aren't these same so-called "visionaries" the same ones who consistently lead our nation into war? Into disastrous financial collapses?
My point is we, by that I mean my generation, have to take responsibility for offloading the task of properly implanting the right brain in our kids. We gave that responsibility away. We let Eye Gore, the schools do the work. They tried. They meant well. They just picked the wrong brain, not because they wanted to create a wicked and dangerous monster. They thought the Progressive Teaching Method they adopted was the best method. It wasn't because they wanted our kids to become dependent, weak and irresponsible victims! No, it was because the Abby Brain seemed attractive and friendly and would fit perfectly with the goals and aspirations of the Good Doctor!
Fast forward a generation or two, and isn't Dr. Anthony Fauci the modern equivalent of Dr. Fronkinsteen? When the Wuhan Virus was recognized as a public nuisance in February 2020, Dr. Fauci proclaimed, "We must follow science!" He demanded that people be willing to accept a temporary suspension of their civil rights, their jobs and businesses, their family relations and social support systems, to fight the spread of the most "dangerous threat to mankind" in recent history.
He was sure he could, if given the right brain, control the monster.
Some consider the sacrifice of individual freedoms a small price to pay to curtail the potential death of millions of people from the COVID19 virus or other mutations that develop from it. And if we were certain that what we are being told was 100% scientifically accurate, that would be one thing.
But is it? Do I equate Dr. Fronkensteen with 'science' in general? No, but there will never be a consensus among scientists because the nature of the discipline is skepticism and exploration. Dr. Fronkensteen simply illustrates the natural conflict society faces when confronted with the unknown. In the film he is amusing. The monster is frightening but science fiction. So we laugh and entertain ourselves with the idea that such a fantasy could ever come true.
But something happened in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. A monster was created! It did break loose and wreak havoc on the village of planet Earth. It was a man made creature that destroyed people and families and buildings and jobs. It has been more destructive than any natural disaster in modern recorded history!
It was Abby Normal!
Bill Gates and other philanthropists suggest their entire lives have been to better the condition of mankind, and for all I know that may well be their intentions. Just as was Dr. Frankenstein's intentions. It is not my role to impugn anyones intentions (I hope you won't mine), but what will be judged by history is the results of the work in the lab and in the halls of Washington DC.
And science has come to the rescue. A newly developed and untried wonder vaccine. Bypassing years of experience in trial and error drug trials, our Fronkinsteen leaders assure us that their new cure will protect us all from the Monster Disease. They tell us not to worry that we are playing with genetic fire, that the risk is worth the return, and what choice do we have but to "follow the science"?
To suggest there is a consensus we should all 'follow' is folly. Historically , society has learned that as time passes the realities of what we know vs what we think we know usually makes us all look naive. The view from the rear view mirror is 20/20. Unless, of course, you listen to self obsessed know-it-alls that will never admit their mistakes.