Wednesday, August 21, 2019

They Don't Make A Pill For It

This post might be a bit of a ramble, but if I don't stop posting about Trump's manifest behaviors exhibiting the transformation of his mentos into compost by the brainworms that Fox News has snuck under his pillow every night, I think I'll end up taking one of those blog vacations that turn into stayawaycations. There's got to be a morning after so I will hold on through the night.

If I were to take a stab at what possessed the young folks at Pacifica HS to make a little Nazi rally when left to their own devices, I would say it was probably because someone learned it off of the internet, and they were being little edgelords. It's the adorable (nope) side-effect of being anti-PC, which kids are for a while and tedious people end up being very much ON PURPOSE about, where trying out the shocking to offend is the point, and understanding why people get shocked, however understandable it could be, is not.

I truly get it. When I was a kid, you listened to Howard Stern on the radio and borrowed a VHS tape of Andrew Dice Clay and thought this was the tradition of Lenny Bruce and saying "Fuck" and not being uptight, for extremely Reagan-era values of that shit. Just a little racial-signifying here and there was like a shot to the ribs--see what I did there? With the shared (one might think) perspective that other people knew that the thing was edgy to say because it was twisted and wrong. I don't know where those kids really stand on what they were doing because it could be for shits and grins (for the LULZ?) Triggered? Teenagers don't have the best empathy or historical perspective. They do and say unfortunate things, because what do they know? (Except they follow the lead of adults who should know better. See?)

I read Andrew Sullivan more seldom then he writes anymore, but this paragraph put it into view for me:
This week, I read a Twitter thread that was, in some ways, an almost perfect microcosm of this dynamic. It was by a woke mother of a white teenage son, who followed her son’s online browsing habits. Terrified that her son might become a white supremacist via the internet, she warns: “Here’s an early red flag: if your kid says ‘triggered’ as a joke referring to people being sensitive, he’s already being exposed & on his way. Intervene!” Really? A healthy sense of humor at oversensitivity is a sign of burgeoning white supremacy? Please. More tips for worried moms: “You can also watch political comedy shows with him, like Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Hasan Minhaj. Talk about what makes their jokes funny — who are the butt of the jokes? Do they ‘punch up’ or down? … Show them that progressive comedy isn’t about being ‘politically correct’ or safe. It’s often about exposing oppressive systems — which is the furthest thing from ‘safe’ or delicate as you can get.”
It put it into view for me, because of the extent to which he doesn't get it. From using the word "woke" (I would consider this word a misappropriation from people who actually use this word correctly in its social justice context--and those people are generally not white like he and me) to diminishing the idea that discussing whether "triggered" has a legitimate meaning that is not a joke for people who do experience anxiety regarding certain forms of content lets me know that Sullivan does not get why the mother here is concerned--

It isn't that she doesn't want her kid to be a conservative. She doesn't want her kid to be a monster. And I guess there is a moment there that I feel like conservatives tell on themselves, the way some indignantly embraced the term "deplorables" when 2016 candidate Clinton tried to separate the Burkeans from David Duke fans or the way others now distinguish themselves by feeling persecuted when long-dead slaveholders are being called out of their name a couple hundred years later by the 1619 Project. 

Is it scolding and moralizing to teach your kid that sometimes things are shocking to say because they are harmful and other people will think less of you for having said them? Is it derisively "woke" to have values--"virtue-signaling"? Or do principles matter? Is it not true that what you do and say reflect on you, sometimes whether you like it or not? Or have all the conservatives in the age of Trump been, not red-pilled or black-pilled, but orange-pilled, and given license to say anything at all, whether licentious, or racist, or a lie, or deliberately cruel?

The problem with the pilled brain of the unschooled little peckerhead is they might even think threats of violence are just that funny.  There have been too many shootings (how many is just enough, I wonder, even as I type that) to think it's okay for kids to joke about shooting up schools, or to swat their little playmates over a fucked up video game beef. It isn't "scolding" to tell a kid right from wrong, and if you do it right, they don't decide to double down on defying you, they get it.

We have young adults out here with weapons and even some not so young adults, and they have ideas that might have just started with "I know this is hateful and wrong, but you know. I'm edgy and speaking uncomfortable truths. "  And then maybe just the right hateful father-figure comes along who never scolds them for being hateful, but tells them they are great.

They aren't all mentally ill--or that isn't the only thing. They didn't get set out on a path in the first place to see people as people, or they see it only for selected groups. They are alienated from others and see enemies where they are not. There isn't a pill that gives you the broadened horizon of Andrew Sullivan to be conservative "but" not the hateful things(?!)--it's taught, just the way hate and fear can be so carefully taught. Assuming this doubling down for any thinking person* when told racism is wrong, or misogyny is natural is to excuse it and admit defeat to the whims of the culture. Is there nothing to exist between the right/left divide but antagonism?

It's not "sustained indoctrination" to "abolish human nature" to try and set terms for right and wrong. It's civilization. It's the education to separate elevated human behavior from the kind we once ascribed to animals, although they are often less cruel than we can be.

I would have thought a conservative would understand that more easily, at the risk of sounding overly preachy. But I do try to think well of people. Regardless.

*PS: But's that's the rub, isn't it? I'm also assuming people think, as opposed to react. Thus, the bad kind of conservatives are supposed to be reactionaries, and then there's your thinking sort. But I reject the binary. There is a continuum, damnit! Also, thinking should also be a learned and encouraged skill.

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