Monday, March 29, 2010

Defining Deviancy Down

Over at Clusterfuck Nation, James Howard Kunstler discusses last week’s tea party madness:

Am I the only one who senses it might be America’s turn to go nuts? I don’t mean a family squabble, like the Boomer-Hippie-Vietnam uproar that was essentially an adolescent rebellion against bad parenting in the national household. I mean a genuine descent into madness, with the very high probability of persecution, violence, murder, and mayhem — all more or less sponsored by various authorities and institutions.

The Republican Party is doing a great job in provoking such a dangerous episode by making consensual governance impossible in a time of awful practical problems and challenges. They’re in the process, right now, of transforming themselves from the party of “no” to the party of no decency, no common sense, no ideas, no conception of the public interest, and no respect for the traditions that they pretend to stand for, like due process of law. In the days since the passage of health care reform, they’ve — gone as far as inciting mobs to violence against their fellow congressmen and senators — bricks thrown through windows, death threats made, coffins placed in the yards of their adversaries. One day soon, somebody with a gun or an explosive device, someone with a very sketchy sense-of-self, and perhaps a recent record of personal failure and humiliation, is going to sacrifice himself to become the Tea Party’s first martyr by shooting up a shopping mall in some blue district.

There’s more here.

On the whole I agree. I’ve no doubt that one of these hopelessly addled fruit loops is going to go off the deep end and shoot someone, and I have nothing but the purest disdain for the Republican party and its daffy assortment of media clowns and demagogues who are deliberately stirring this shit up. The media clowns, in particular, probably couldn’t care less if someone gets shot. It would be good for ratings. I do believe they are that callous and greedy and stupid and narcissistic; I also believe, completely, that we have sunk so low as a culture that, should someone be harmed, God forbid, one of Fox’s side-show freaks will eventually go on TV and suggest — a little sheepishly at first perhaps, but more boldly if the response is generally favorable — that, well, when you think about it, the victim sort of brought it on themselves.

The person who said that not only wouldn’t be fired or completely shunned by respectable society (we don’t have much of that these days), but he or she would probably be given a raise and a prime-time slot, maybe even a book deal or a highly lucrative reality TV show, like someone we all know. Behavior that was once beyond the pale is now rewarded with fame, money, and all the other gaudy emoluments that Bedlam USA has to bestow. It’s an example of something that conservatives used to screech about ad nauseam during the sin-soaked Clinton years but don’t often mention anymore: defining deviancy down.

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