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January 11, 2011 / Political Fluency

Everybody CTFD

January 8th was a sad day for our country, and the 48 hours afterward were even sadder for different reasons. We now have the lamentable situation where the politicization of a horrific tragedy has become a bigger story than the tragedy itself.

The CTFD stands for Calm The F*%$ Down – and that’s what everyone needs to do. It’s what I implied on my Twitter when I wrote “A nutjob is a nutjob. There’s no making sense of it. Renato Seabra and Jared Loughner aren’t influenced by tone of our political discourse.”

My friend felt compelled to respond and we had an intellectual street fight to the death. Since I’m typing this now, you can guess who won. It was also fun to light up Paul Krugman at the end. As you can see, I am humble in victory.

Friend’s Instigation:

Agree with the spirit of yout [sic] tweet, but disagree with the 2nd half in the literal sense. Because people like that are nutjobs precisely allows them to be more influenced by outside factors, like the tone of our political discourse. The right has always had this organized, almost militant approach to its politics, while the left has always been perceived as wimpy and scattered. You cannot tell me that hardcore talking heads that are vitriolic in their rhetoric, regardless of their views, don’t have an effect on the masses. Look at several of the YouTube clips from many tea party rallies, many taking their cue from more rabid leaders.

The thing with the right is that their side tends to be a bit more, umm, passionate leading to things like this. And unlike youself, [sic] who is an educated conservative, there are several uneducated, yet politically charged citizens that are easily effected [sic] by radio anaylst [sic] A or TV host B.

Jared Loughner killed because he was mentally instable and needed help. But that mental instability made him more vulnerable to outside influence and that is where people in the political arena need to relook at how business is done.

And be sure that if this was a conservative congresswoman, killed by a liberal radical, after appearing on a poster created by Howard Dean with targets on her, the right would have called for his expulsion from politics and would be on every single TV outlet demanding the left censures themselves or something else crazy like that.

It’s time for political discourse to stop being vitriolic and about wins and losses and time for it to be about collaboration and improvement.

Response:

I agree with you… only if we also tone down the violence, sex, and cursing that is a part of so many TV shows, movies, songs, and magazines.

To aim at just political discourse is stupid. Way more people are exposed to our pop culture everyday than the news.

Friend:

You see, I don’t believe those things are exactly the same. You can’t equate a slasher movie or porno that most people use as diversion with true discourse about real things. But even putting that aside, I am not saying that any talking head should be censored or not allowed to speak their mind. I am more saying, that less would be so darn vitiriolic [sic] and respect and understand people’s difference in opinion instead of attack it.

Me:

“Most people use as diversion with true discourse about real things.”

Are we talking about most people or nutjobs? You bring up a good point; millions of people watch these shows with harmful political discourse and nothing even close to this happens. As much as harshness (for lack of a better term) needs to be reduced from political discourse and popular entertainment, if we’re talking about nutjobs nothing will affect them more positively.

As much as this reminds me of when Timothy McVeigh struck Oklahoma City and then Bill Clinton blamed right-wing radio (which was pretty much just Rush Limbaugh), this is actually Columbine all over again.

This Loughner guy may have been planning this since 2007 from last I heard. The Tea Party started on February 19, 2009. Sarah Palin became a national figure in 2008. But the media ignores that.

Just like they ignored the pertinent information with Columbine. The killers listened to Rammstein and KMFDM and watched Natural Born Killers. The media pointed mostly to Marilyn Manson and played a clip from Basketball Diaries with almost no evidence that the two killers listened or saw that material, let alone were influenced by the latter two.

Y’know why the media singled out Marilyn Manson? Because he was a boogeyman that was popular. He was way more famous than Rammstein and KMFDM put together so it was easier for the media to write about him.

Y’know why they showed Basketball Diaries? Because there’s a scene in it that looked like the Columbine massacre. This is called Building a Narrative. The media tells stories and human beings are wired to believe in stories to make sense of things.

That’s why the media immediately ran to the Tea Party and Palin’s target list.

See American sheeple? He had a gun and Palin had gun targets.

See Leo DiCaprio wearing a black trenchcoat and shooting classmates? That’s what happened in Columbine.

See Marilyn Manson? Your kid probably listens to him too. You better watch out! We all need to be as alarmist as possible!

“But… but they listened to Rammstein and KMFDM.”

Don’t be stupid, American sheeple. Nobody knows who they are and they live in Europe so they are way harder to get a statement out of than Brian Warner right here in LA.

As for Loughner, I think the issue is that many in the media already think people that like Sarah Palin or those who join Tea Parties are already deranged and that rhetoric pushes them over the edge.

When these things happen, most people think along the lines of “There has to be a Reason why they did it? Right? I mean, I do everything for a Reason!”

This is projecting. And this projecting is exactly why we are so susceptible to bad Narratives.

Normal thinking people try to wonder why someone would do this? How can God hear all of those prayers at once? Why does Heidi Montag want more plastic surgery? Some of these political shows make me mad so it must have made this Loughner guy enraged!

This is a person projecting rational thinking on irrational things.

Loughner believed a lot of far left-wing nonsense and far right-wing nonsense. He was just plain nuts.

The bottom line is that it’s a miracle this doesn’t happen more often in an open society like ours.

But that’s not much of a Story now is it?

Bonus Beatdown

Friend (Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight):

Just read this from Paul Krugman:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/opinion/10krugman.html?hp

Me (Responding with a Bazooka):

That was interesting.

“I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing.”

But that is one of the stupidest things this guy has ever written and he has a litany already – mainly that we need more government spending since September 2008 up until now and in the future while acknowledging we are in horrific debt already.

The people who were mad that Ross Perot played spoiler enabling Clinton to get elected with 43% of the vote had nothing to do with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols… nothing.

“something about the current state of America has been causing far more disturbed people than before to act out their illness by threatening, or actually engaging in, political violence.”

Yeah, that something is called the worst economy in 70 years and high sustained unemployment.

I just read this from the left-wing Salon.com; I couldn’t have written it better.

And a direct rebuttal to Krugman from the best conservative publication.

“Paul Krugman and Anne Coulter should be forcibly married” – Philalawyer

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