THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 2022
After that, they started to hit: Reporting to us from the future, a wide array of expert sources describe a peculiar fact. These highly-acclaimed but despondent experts invariably tell us this:
In the future, Gene Brabender is widely regarded as the greatest anthropologist of all time!
This claim seems peculiar because the late Gene Brabender was a rawboned right-hander for the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Pilots / Milwaukee Brewers. He wasn't highly "educated" in any conventional sense.
He's best remembered as a key figure in Ball Four, Jim Bouton's iconic 1970 book about the Seattle Pilots' 1969 season. According to future experts, Brabender is widely considered the greatest anthropologist because of this iconic statement, as quoted in Bouton's book:
"Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that, we start to hit."
According to Bouton, that was Brabender's angry reaction to annoyingly nuanced discussions out in the Pilots' bullpen. In the future, experts regard Brabender's statement as the most concise account of human nature ever recorded on Earth.
According to these disconsolate experts, we humans could only tolerate a small degree of ambiguity or nuance. After that, we would get angry—and then, we would "start to hit."
We would express our anger in two basic ways, these future experts all say. On the one hand, we would start to see Others—and then we'd accuse them of crimes.
This so-called "criminalization of everything" has been on wide display of late, even within our own liberal tribe. On our favorite "cable news" TV shows, we constantly voice the desire to arrest any Other who moves.
We see forgeries forgeries forgeries forgeries forgeries fake forged documents. We see vigilantes crossing state lines—and the pattern continues from there.
This "criminalization of everything" is on constant nightly display within our own tribe's "cable news." As a tribe, we long to get Others locked up—as many Others as possible.
We think and talk about little else. We alienate and dismiss a broad range of voters as we behave this way.
This "criminalization of everything" has been apparent on our highest-rated cable news show for at least a decade. But before we can charge a wide range of Others with crimes, we have to believe in their existence— and we have to let ourselves loathe them.
In recent weeks, Our Own Rhodes Scholar has been dreaming nightly fever dreams about getting the forgers locked up. According to experts, these are the kinds of hard-wired reactions which have led to our species' never-ending succession of racial / ethnic / religious / tribal wars, down through the annals of time.
Back in 1999, a terrified fictional little boy said that he could see dead people; more broadly, we humans are wired to see Others. As we noted at the start of the week, this wiring was called into stark relief when Kevin Drum offered a puzzling post last weekend under this unacceptable headline:
Fox News viewers don’t deserve contempt. Save it for the folks fleecing them.
Is Kevin Drum allowed to say that? His post had created a test!
In his post, Drum began by weirdly saying that "rank-and-file viewers of Fox" are "victims as much as the rest of us." He described such people as "marks in a con game run by Rupert Murdoch."
This seemed to suggest that Fox viewers don't realize that that they're being fleeced by Fox—that they're misled by the network's various cons.
In fairness, Drum also said he wasn't able to feel "empathy" for Fox viewers. He merely said that Fox News viewers "don't deserve the contempt" we should aim at Fox News personnel.
Fox viewers don't deserve our contempt! In response to this strange suggestion, his readers began seeing Others.
As of today, 51 reactions have been offered in reaction to Drum's post. That includes 20 first-order comments and 31 responses to same.
On balance, no one has really seemed to agree with Drum's modest proposal. Many have seemed to reject his suggestions. For example, Commenter 2 offered this:
COMMENT 2: I suppose in a world in which none of this mattered, where our health and our democratic system of government were not in grave danger, we could afford to make such distinctions.
But no, we don't live in that world, and anyone who spouts anti-science or fascist propaganda needs to be called out forcefully.
You'll note that this commenter has already wandered away from Drum's proposal.
Drum spoke about Fox News viewers in general. This commenter said we need to go after "anyone who spouts anti-science or fascist propaganda."
According to experts, this is what happens when we humans start seeing Others. We'll only tolerate nuanced distinctions for a little while. After that, we start to hit!
On balance, Commenter 3 also seemed to reject Drum's proposal. His or her comment drew an approving response:
COMMENT 3: In my experience, most Fox News types are also huge assholes. Sure, to some extent they're being conned, but the con is designed to appeal to selfish, racist, sexist, xenophobic jerks. AKA Republicans.
RESPONSE: In my experience, they also tend to be gun owners, so having sympathy while afraid of them is simply not possible...Where so many have multiple weapons & some give them to kids, I just cannot sympathize.
Commenter 3 described most Fox viewers. Would he view the rest of the network's viewers as victims? In his comment, he didn't say.
According to experts in The Brabender Cult, such niceties quickly melt away when we humans start seeing Others. We'll only cogitate for a little while. After that, we start to lash out.
All in all, we wouldn't say that a single commenter voiced agreement with Drum's point of view. A number of commenters basically missed the point of what Drum said. Others made comments like these:
COMMENT 6: Nope. They are not victims. They deserve all the scorn, ridicule, and contempt we can muster. And I’d also suggest beating the crap out of them if you can. Left-wing deaths squads! Why can’t we get some of these gangsters to whack them? We let them out of jail, now do some good!
COMMENT 9: I don't necessarily agree. Fox viewers want to hear this stuff, if they didn't, Fox wouldn't be selling it. In other words, I think it's the viewers driving the content.
Don't get me wrong, Hannity, Carlson, lowest of the low, and they know what they're doing, but the people showing up want to hear this stuff.
COMMENT 12: It's hard to vilify an entire group of people who failed to develop a crap detector by the time they became adults. But I usually do so anyway.
COMMENT 14: Even if they are victims, it doesn't mean they aren't victimizing. They deserve contempt, even if for different reasons (e.g., many of them are just simply assholes).
COMMENT 15: I had an interesting exchange upthread with iam4man which has caused me to think a little bit differently about Kevin’s argument that Fox News viewers don’t deserve our contempt. Upon more careful reflection, I think that, on the whole, they derive our contempt because they are as much in on the joke as Tucker or Hannity. My reason is that Fox News viewers remain loyal and don’t suffer from anything like the cognitive dissonance one might reasonably expect.
COMMENT 16: Its OK, Kevin, I have contempt enough to cover both, with an extra share for the fleecers
COMMENT 17: I work with many of these people. Hard to have sympathy for them. Maybe for their families, who, in several cases I see, disagree strongly with the Trump fan.
COMMENT 18: No, no, there are millions of people who need their political-cultural biases reinforced.
COMMENT 19: Fox News viewers know exactly what they're buying (with their attention and ad dollars) and they want it. If it wasn't Fox, it would be someone else. Even they have been outflanked by new, even more wing-nutty outlets like OAN. The base knows it lives in an alternative reality and it *prefers* that reality. They idea is to live forever in white, Christian, small town 1950. These stations give them that.
So it went, from beginning to end. As we noted on Tuesday, the most sympathetic comment may have come from Commenter 11:
COMMENT 11: The reality is there's more than one type of Fox News viewer. Some are racist jerks who know, deep in their hearts, that the outcomes they want are profoundly wrong and unjust. But they support the things they do (and consume the news they consume) out of resentment and bitterness. They're like Gollum. I know one or two like these. And there are also Fox News viewers who genuinely are entirely bereft of the ability to analyze what's going on in the world. And they really do believe the stuff Murdoch pushes on them. Such people are profoundly ignorant.
The world is a complicated place.
Do Fox viewers deserve our contempt? This commenter didn't explicitly say. Instead, he offered this:
Fox News viewers aren't all alike. Some Fox viewers are profoundly ignorant. The rest are even worse.
Drum had gone out on a limb this day. Strangely, he had said that we should regard Fox News viewers as victims. Weirdly, he had said that they don't deserve our contempt.
When Drum floated these heretical thoughts, his readers began to see Others. No one seemed to agree with Drum's mildly humane point of view.
According to Brabender, what had occurred? In the words of the world's greatest student of human nature, Drum's readers "started to hit."
Just like that, Kevin Drum's readers began seeing Others! Of an evening, they may watch the Maddow Show, a popular program which has long been built around "the criminalization of everything."
Drum' s readers began to see Others! Tomorrow, we'll tell you more, much more, about the hard-wired, brain-eating syndrome which has driven our war-inclined species since we first crawled on dry land.
Tomorrow: Basic intelligence down