A Little Ditty About Recent Events

ffffffI became an atheist, and joined in with others, because I wanted to belong to a Community of Reason. This current (and lengthy past!) shit I see going on with the flaming, mob targeting, jargon-slinging, code-wording, character assassination, labeling and pigeonholing — I hate being even on the edges of it, because the people doing it are as stupid and evil in their own way as the righty-religious community I escaped from. Waaaaay too many of the people I once thought were members of my Community of Reason are instead flaming, vicious assholes, working to hurt or silence people — sometimes relative innocents — for their own nasty pleasure. Or for blog hits (money), which is just as bad.

Something I’ve said many times: “Under the lash of strong emotion, humans become less intelligent.” I’ve characterized Fox News as Entertainment of Outrage, and I despise them for it, for controlling and parasitizing their audience with constant high-emotion stories that do nothing but ramp up the fear, anger and hate, leaving their viewers, stuck on a constant Fox diet, unable to reason even at very simple levels.

But in the past year or so, I’ve realized that a lot of what gets projected at we liberals is the exact same thing — stories of outrages done to women, to the homeless, to black people, to kittens. Blogging — and blog commenting! — conducted with blaming and finger-pointing AT MEMBERS OF OUR OWN COMMUNITY, all delivered at the level of an outraged scream. We’re being poisoned with anger, not just against rightful targets of that anger, but against each other — to the point where too many of US (!) can no longer think rationally, or plan and conduct long-term, broad-scale campaigns to right things — and it’s being DONE to us by people we think are allies, but who are really just more parasites.

The end result of all this? We’re that bucket of crabs that pinch and push and fight EACH OTHER, while people operating at levels of power and influence and deadly action far above us are continuing to conduct wars, poison the planet, lie, cheat, steal, murder, etc. … unimpeded.

  • Physicalist

    Sorry; I’ll try to be nicer.

    • Hank Fox

      Heh. I’ve got my eye on you.

  • Dorothy Grasett

    I agree – and I am beginning to fade away from the group – I will not click on anyone who appears to be yowling about some other group member. I am deeply disappointed in this behaviour. My husband had nothing but good to say about Butterflies and Wheels and the Atheist on-line community before he died. That would not be the case now.

    • Hank Fox

      Good example.

  • Ann Chapman

    I go back and forth between wanting a break from the local group I belong to (because they can be so negative) and wanting to help them become more positive. I yearn for a local group like Oasis of Houston or Kansas City–they are TRULY good without a god, eager for learning and sharing.

  • Gregory Mullaley

    What a ‘spot-on’ piece. I find myself, at times, being sucked in to the latest “outrage of the day”. I usually catch myself, but occasionally I forget that that is what these various news outlets are trying to do so that we won’t focus on all the facts of the case at hand. We must reserve judgment until the facts are in (forensics and investigations), as any good skeptic should, in fact, must do. Even with audio or film footage of any incident, if we haven’t seen everything leading up to action, what facts are we missing? And what narrative is the network trying to promote? We have to look no further than Duke University back in 2006. Everyone was so sure that three privileged white students had raped a poor black stripper during a party. The cops, prosecutor, the university faculty, and the press had all ‘convicted’ these men in the court of public opinion. I did not let myself to be swept up in the emotions created by these various groups and I waited for the facts to come out. Logic and patience won out and they were exonerated by a lot of evidence to the contrary. The prosecutor was fired and disbarred for his shameful conduct. The three young men successfully sued both the state and the university for undisclosed millions for the harm the caused by using emotions rather than reason to guide their actions. But I still have to guard myself, just as we all do from those who would have us give up rational thought for pure emotion. I say “No thanks”.

  • Earl McDermid

    I guess Gandhi had it right. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” It is frustrating. All we can do is try to keep being the change we want to see. Safe journeys.

    • Hank Fox

      Earl: Thank you.

  • My husband watches Fox News online. Being in the room next to it, I usually listen, unwillingly, as they create drama out of soup cans and get their jones over plane crashes, Isis, and deep throaty proclamations. its like People magazine with way too much air space to fill.
    I keep thinking, this isnt news. This is empty air. And, “what would Cronkite or Jennings have said here?” and the answer is, said the necessary words, turned the page, and moved on.

    • Hank Fox

      When we hear something that appears, to our rational minds, as nonsensical, we tend to believe the person saying it is not all that bright. But the motivation behind the things Fox News does and says is on the axis of emotional control rather than the wholly different axis of intelligence or factual correctness. In that sense, their ability to get people to hate, or fear, or become angry, is brilliantly effective. As long as we think it’s about intelligence, or facts, they will win every point.

      We have to realize that there’s the Thing Said, and then there’s the Desired Result of the Thing Said, and that the two aren’t the same. The Desired Result is achieved by speaking in a code that the target audience understands, and that sparks intense emotion and loyalty in them, but also a code that the non-target audience will consistently misconstrue as stupid and ineffective.

      We liberals constantly underestimate them, sneering at how “stupid” they are, and missing the point that their REAL goal is something they do incredibly well. We keep calling them out on their lies, and it keeps on not mattering … because truth and lies are irrelevant to their target audience.

      In existence for less than 9 years, they have managed to hamstring and poison an entire nation, and we have looked on and let it happen.

      • These are not news commentators, they are trained actors, looking Serious and Concerned, and as long as they dress nice and speak in sonorous concerned tones, people get sucked in. Drama sells. Gore and Horror sell. Sad, innit.

        When Kennedy was shot, Walter Cronkite was the go-to-guy for news in those days. He read the news reports, and then looked at the last one and said, “at 1:32 pm this afternoon President Kennedy died, at XXX hospital in Dallas.” and he took off his glasses and wiped his eyes. We all did. No speculation, no gore and grue, no descriptions of anything. That was drama. The real kind.

  • YaronD

    Are you saying that criticizing people of your own community is wrong, regardless of what they do? If someone from your community does commit “outrages” “to women, to the homeless, to black people” or to others, members of the community or not, then this should be ignored and accepted? Better to keep a community looking as if it’s peaceful while some members of it hurt and disregard others, rather than try to improve things?

    Or am I misunderstanding, and you were trying to say something else? Because this post can be sort of read as if from either side, except a few sentences. Are you objecting to some members of the community hurting and denigrating others, or are you objecting to the others daring to complain about how the aforementioned members of the community treat them?

    • Hank Fox

      ” … criticizing people of your own community is wrong, regardless of what they do …”

      Uh … what?

      • YaronD

        I read you as complaining about “blaming and finger-pointing AT MEMBERS OF OUR OWN COMMUNITY”, where that blaming is in the form of “stories of outrages done to women, to the homeless, to black people”.

        So people in the community tell stories of outrages done by other members of the community, and you’re saying (if I read your post correctly?) that the ones reporting the outrages are wrong because they point fingers at MEMBERS OF OUR OWN COMMUNITY performing the outrages?

        So it’s fine to complain about outrageous acts done by people outside of the community, but not about ones done by people in the community?

        How can the problem be that the anger goes “not just against rightful targets of that anger, but against each other” ?
        If “each other” are also rightful targets of the anger, then it’s fine to be angry at them. But if they aren’t then obviously the problem should be that the anger is turned at the wrong targets, regardless of whether they are in, or out, of the community, no?

        • Hank Fox