*editor’s note: due to the length of these rants, I’m going to break them into separate parts. This is part one.
If you asked me what bothers me the most about the era we live in I would give you an earful but I can narrow it down to a couple of main points that I will discuss here at length and in several parts. For starters, and probably the biggest issue: hypocrisy. Nothing grinds my gears (hat tip to Peter Griffin), more than blatant and willful hypocrisy and it’s rampant in our society now. Two: willful ignorance. The only other thing more irritating than hypocrisy is willful ignorance, and often times, they go hand in hand. Despite the fact that we live in the so-called “information age,” the number of people who are ignorant of even the most basic facts is not just alarming, it’s dangerous. And it’s not just that they’re ignorant of these things, it’s that they are too lazy to look them up or do any kind of thinking or research about anything. Three: the cult of illusory superiority, or know-it-all syndrome, coupled with the disease of cognitive dissonance. The growing number of people who think they have it all figured out, with “it” being interchangeable, is not only irritating, it’s toxic. Further, because of the toxic nature of social media now (a medium which bolsters, coddles, and breeds all of these things), when confronted with any evidence to the contrary and or hard facts, these people double and triple down on their beliefs, no matter how false they may be, and they do it with all the attitude and smugness you might expect from spoiled and bratty children.
All of these things relate to one another and with recent events, things have come to a boiling point to where I felt the need to vent, if only to clear my own head because the noxious gasses of the Idiocracy are poisoning everything and turning the friggin’ frogs gay!!!!!!!!!!
That was a joke.
I considered making this a podcast due to its length, but ultimately, due to a combination of being both busy and lazy, you’ll have to endure a long rant, so bear with me and bring a lunch.
First, let me just clarify that I am not claiming to be smarter than you or anyone else for that matter, and also that I do not claim to know everything about anything, quite the contrary. In fact, it astounds me that we now live in a society with so many soap box experts on, well, everything! Hell, I fully concede that it’s impossible to know everything yet we live in a society overflowing with “experts” on everything from economics, to government, history, sociology, psychology and science, not to mention every conspiracy under the sun, and they’re not shy about bestowing their knowledge upon we lowly heathens!
At what point, in recent history, did everyone become a certified expert in everything? Further, why is no one ever wrong..? Or…why is everyone else always wrong except a few enlightened and chosen individuals?
The answer, of course, lies in the way in which we communicate now. The culprit is, without further ado, the internet, and more specifically, the social media wing of the internet, which I’d argue is the majority of the internet now. Whereas the internet used to feel “vast,” it now fills like a schoolyard, or a prison yard, depending on how you look at it.
Yes, this is me ranting about the internet again, surprise surprise. Why, you might ask? because it just keeps getting worse.
The internet, far from being used as a tool to enrich our lives, to educate and elevate ourselves to a higher plane of existence, has since devolved into a million giant megaphones, wielded by all the world’s idiots, all of whom have a severe case of extremely contagious herpes; and by gawd, they’re just dying to rub all up on you in order to baptize you with their smarts!
I’d argue that for many, it is even a weapon, especially for the ill-informed and ego-inflated masses who are either too stupid to know that they’re stupid or those diabolical charlatans akin to the snake oil salesmen of yester year, suckering people gullible enough to believe them and thus, pay them their last dime. Televangelists, and their scams, never really went out of style, they simply got with the times.
The smoking gun here in what indicts the internet the main culprit in our spiraling societal downfall is the ease in which misinformation spreads now. No ones seems to mind much. This is unprecedented. At no other time in human history has it been possible to spread a message like now, and thus infect the minds of so many, with assbackward ideas.
Prior to this era, it was chiefly the responsibility of the cult of the cathode ray, aka television, to spread misinformation to the dim-witted masses. The boob-tube was guilty on all accounts but access to broadcasting was limited at best, and only those with enough money and influence got their propaganda across.
With advent of the “high-speed” internet, absolutely anyone and everyone (and their grandma) has their own “channel” now and we are all tuning in, 24/7, 365 days a year, swallowing, regurgitating and spreading outright lies, half-baked ideas, propaganda, misinformation and perversions of truth at a rate only dreamed about by the pioneers of television brainwashing. The only difference is that back then, the scope was limited, and you had but a few people pulling the strings, but now that the floodgates are open, there is no longer a safety net. Let freedom ring indeed! We opened Pandora’s box and ended up with “post-truth” and “alternative facts.”
I will explain the theories behind this stuff in greater detail in the next part of this series, but first allow me to back track a moment and start with my point about hypocrisy before I get too far along with the cult of illusory superiority, though these things are all related. Hypocrisy, which is so prevalent in our society now to the point where daily examples are given, has caused me to recoil in horror yet again as I watch roving bands of hypocrites celebrate and revel in their hypocrisy like some kind of orgy at a stupidity convention.
It’s no secret that I am a proponent of free speech. I don’t hide it, I’m not shy about it and I probably talk about it too much, but it’s important to me. So much so that I declared myself a free speech absolutist. This declaration cost me a few readers and thus planted me smack dab in the middle of a renewed culture war, despite the fact that I wanted no part of it. No longer did I find myself on the “left,” as I have most of my life, but rather, and to my own amazement/amusement, I found myself where I have always been: in the center and or outcast, on the outside looking in.
This is not a particularly popular place to be these days. In fact, I’d argue that it’s primarily an isolationist belief system because the more you talk about it, the more you find that most people don’t think that way, even if they profess that they do. And when you dare to express that you fully support this so-called freedom, well, that’s when the accusations start to fly and conversations either boil over into screaming matches or they cease altogether.
See, for me, my views on free speech haven’t changed much since I was a kid. If anything, I am even more in favor it now than I was 20 years ago. 20 years ago you would have found me throwing rocks at skinhead rallies and defending music from being censored. But these days you’ll find me defending both because I’ve realized that it’s not the context but the principle that matters most. If you put the context over principle, you nullify the purpose of principle. These days, context is everything (or nothing), principle is often considered antiquated.
I’ve often read that this is a fundamental difference between progressive and conservative; whereas progressives want and always push for progress, i.e. change, which is often considered a “good thing,” and conservatives remain firmly, and often stubbornly, rooted in keeping the status quo – which is often considered “bad.” But both are subjective, however, when it comes to inalienable rights, I find myself firmly rooted in a conservative position, especially where freedom is considered.
Never mind the fact that I consider myself “liberal” on most social issues, but when it comes to the freedom to express yourself and thinking for yourself, those are not things I think need to change. I am not a fan of the thought police nor censorship and have fought against them most of my life, but it strikes me as odd that it’s not I who has changed over the years, but my adversaries. I’ve always been drawn to that particular brand of science fiction, i.e. Phillip K. Dick stories and films like John Carpenter’s “They Live.” Yet, somehow, somewhere, something flipped upside down, and while I still endear myself to the same beliefs, those on the opposite side of the argument have shifted.
Growing up, it was the televangelists and their ilk who condemned me for my music, my hair, my clothing and my lack of Christ-indoctrinated morals and lifestyle. I was a heathen. But now, it’s college kids who want to beat me over the head – and not with the bible – but with their own particular and heavy brand of ethics, and it varies. Their truth is the only truth. Their way is the only way and to question that is heresy. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s usually the dogma of religious fanatics.
You never know which minefield you’re walking on these days with these people. Are you a racist? Are you Nazi? A Nazi-sympathizer? Are you anti-black? A misogynist? Homophobic? Ableist? Transphobic? Islamophobic? Did you assume just my gender? Are you fat shaming me? Are you a sexist? I have been accused of all of these things over the past few years, due in large part to the seismic shift in the culture wars, and what amuses me the most out of all of it is that the vitriol is not coming from the church ladies or the TV preachers any more, it’s coming from so-called progressive college kids. Rod Serling couldn’t have scripted it weirder.
By all intents and purposes, I am not a “Nazi.” Having to declare this, in this day and age, is absurd, but these are absurd times. In fact, as I have argued before, I grew up fighting with racist skinheads, so to find myself here, all these years later, being lumped together with them, merely because I hold a principle to a higher standard, is comical at best and ridiculous at worst.
As I said, this belief that I have, that no ideas, speech, art, expression or thoughts should be censored, banned or repressed by the government, private or public individuals or otherwise, no matter how offensive some may consider them, has alienated me from many “liberal” minded people these past few years, which is bizarre because under normal circumstances, it’s the liberal-minded who most often fight for these things.
I always thought of book burners, and uptight tightwad censors as these pearl-clutching, bible-beating moralists who would faint at the mere mention of immorality. Yet, here in the “post-truth” era, I find myself most often arguing against self-professed liberals, and college kids at that, when it comes to freedom of speech. So, what the fuck happened?
As I argued earlier, I mostly blame the internet for this because most of these people have been brainwashed somewhere along the line and on social media no less. What’s frightening is the ease at which they are brainwashed now. What used to take years via television now only takes a matter of days online, tops. And I want to delve further into that brainwashing process in the next part of this series but what is most striking about this phenomenon is that when these kids are presented with evidence to the contrary they immediately freak out, recoil and then double down on their ridiculous arguments while attacking you for daring to counter. They do this to the point of uber hypocrisy and it’s rampant now, like some new kind of leprosy, but I digress.
Fast forward to this year, when the world tipped upside down and we all discovered that once you open Pandora’s Box, there is no going back, and I find myself still fighting for the freedom of speech, but this time it’s people on the so-called “right” who are being attacked and the left has abandoned its principles on this topic due to many factors, most of which have to do with being sore losers.
And this is what drives me absolutely nuts: the daily flip-flopping from people, on both sides of the argument, about what constitutes freedom of speech and what should and should not be banned and or protected. The hypocrisy is out of control at this point and I find myself wondering if I am taking crazy pills on a daily basis and am just unaware of it.
For example, the so called “alt-right,” who has been in the news daily for months now, who have been accused of being literal Nazis and and who have been crying like babies about their freedom of speech being denied and attacked by liberals, leftists, anarchists and communists, has seen a surge of support from people who are anything but “alt-right.” It is bizarre, to say the least, to watch people on the right argue for the freedom of speech and people on the left argue for censorship of ideas because they consider them “scary,” and further, to watch both groups beat the shit out of each other on YouTube on a weekly basis now. It’s more entertaining and or comical than MMA or “professional” wrestling, complete with heroes and heels, story lines, commentators, roaring spectators, people hawking wares.
But it is infuriating to watch these groups stop, mid-dance, shift gears and take a 180-degree spin, all because they finally discover something that they disagree with. And so you end up with so-called “anarchists” running to the media and playing the victim card because they were assaulted at a riot they started, and on the other side of the coin, you have so-called “free speech warriors” thumping their chests while suddenly calling for the censorship of something they find offensive. I mean, what the fuck?
I find that the number of real live human beings who actually understand what the freedom of speech is, much less support it, is relatively small, if not minuscule. Most people, in my experience, only agree with it up to a certain point before they realize that even they have a line they will not cross and once it’s breached, all bets are off, because fuck your principles.
Which brings me to my next question: what the fuck is my problem then? And why am I so vested in something hardly anyone believes in?!
For example, as mentioned, it’s been the alt-right and Trump supporters (both of which are not mutually exclusive), who have been championing free speech these past few months. And boy, have they gained some traction, all under the guise of “muh freedom!” They’ve been squaring off against a fascist group of trust fund kids (anti-fa), who claim to be anti-fascist but are actually the literal interpretation of what it means to be authoritarian, and who are hellbent on censorship and shutting down Trump supporters because “muh Nazis!”
All of this has put me in a difficult and weird position, because under normal circumstances, I am always on the side of anti-authoritarians. However, in this case, I found myself disgusted by these kids who are acting like literal fascists. As a writer and a publisher, anyone who thinks they have the right to censor others is my natural enemy. I also found myself defending Trump supporters and host of other harmless idiots who have been targeted as the literal reincarnation of Adolf Hitler for simply wanting to speak. Again, what the fuck?
And it’s been like this for months now, with no end in sight. It’s caused rifts in friendships and relationships. This stupid election has caused way too many people to throw reason in the toilet and to embrace extremism to the nth degree, all because of their bruised egos.
So, imagine my surprise and my utter disgust, to see these same people, these same right wing champions of free speech, these same people are who are now arguing that Ann Coulter has a right to free speech to speak at Berkeley, these same useful idiots who consider themselves “enlightened,” who are now calling for a university professor who painted an unflattering image of Trump, to be fired and have his art removed from a university in Alaska.
In other words, they want to censor this man’s art because it offends them. Pause a moment to let the insane irony weigh on you with that one.
They not only want him fired but they want him jailed by the F.B.I. for “threatening the President” with a painting. They are calling for his art to be removed/destroyed/banned and they are now standing on their own ridiculous shit-encrusted, moral high horse and flat out refuse to see the hypocrisy of this ridiculous scenario. And they are doing it 2017 witch hunt style by doxing the professor and egging people on to call his job and the feds and get him fired/arrested. All of this from the same people who are filling their diapers over Ann Coulter being denied a speaking platform…make no mistake, these people flipping out over this artist have been some of the most vocal about their own rights to free speech, and now they are calling for this professor to be fired and arrested. For a painting! !!!
Can they not see the hypocrisy here? Can you? Can they not understand how ridiculous and flat-out STUPID you sound to scream for the freedom of speech but also the banning of speech in the same breath? Again, am I taking crazy pills? Is this thing on?!
I mean, you have to either be the biggest hypocrite on the planet earth or you have to be next-level retarded to even try to attempt that argument with a straight face. And yet, here we are. It’s the norm now. People do it on a daily basis and no one bats an eyelash. People will say they stand for one thing and do another and do not think twice about it. It’s fucking lunacy! And it leaves me wondering if there is anyone out there who actually is principled, has integrity and is not full of shit when push comes to shove or if I’m just an asshole.
Wherever you see the words “free speech doesn’t include…” you know you’re dealing with a hypocrite and an authoritarian asswipe. Both the left and the right are guilty of this ad nauseam now, whether it’s cartoon frogs smeared as “hate symbols” or calling for Snoop Dogg’s head because he made a music video making fun of Trump, it never ends. I constantly find myself always siding with the artist/art/speaker/whoever in question, regardless of the decade or who is in the White House, because that’s the whole goddamn point! I will never side with the censor or the authoritarians and it fucking shocks/disgusts me to see people flip back and forth like fish about this stuff on a daily basis because it’s not difficult to understand once you subtract your own moral crusade from the equation.
And maybe I am an asshole, but goddamnit, I stand behind my beliefs. You won’t catch me flopping around like a fish like so many “cucks” and “Nazis” these days. I always have stood my ground but things have shifted so much that I find myself in strange company and then in no company at all, which really, is nothing new for me. I don’t have a side.
I was taught that integrity counts for something. Maybe I was lied to, but I am mature enough to admit when I am wrong, and I have been wrong in believing that this movement on the right was interested in principles, rather than their own twisted brand and perverse ideals and ego. I was wrong to think that those on the left would never falter or buckle when it comes to the defense of long-held principles in lieu of personal biases and epic butt hurt. I was wrong to assume that most people can think for themselves.
So, shame on me for thinking that either side – hell, any side – the left or the right, has any damn integrity left or even a shred of decency these days. They don’t. Both ideologies are dead and filled with the walking brain dead. This is full on war now (which is nothing new), and at this point, absolutely anything goes, no matter how ridiculous, asinine or hypocritical. The old saying rings true; that the first casualty in any war is the truth and the truth has been gang raped and murdered so many times now that it’s unrecognizable to most.
Stay tuned for part 2 in this series, in which I will talk more about the the cult of illusory superiority and a podcast that gave me chills.
As always, thanks for reading!