Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Hank Williams Scandal: Bad Logic and Butthurt

Are you ready for some butthurt!
The whole Hank Williams "scandal" perfectly encapsulates everything that is wrong with American political culture and the media that amplifies it.  In a nutshell, Americans want to be offended, they want to be outraged.  They are constantly looking for fuel to feed their baseless resentment.  And the media is constantly providing.

After saying he wouldn't support any of the Republican party candidates for president, non-celebrity, non-pundit, non-talented Hank Williams Jr. complained about Obama and Boehner (Safari spellcheck suggests "Boner" here) playing golf together.  He then made the simile that them doing was would be like Netanyahu and Hitler playing golf together.

Cue the butthurt.  Get ready for the outrage.  We're all so offended that he would dare to "compare Obama to Hitler".  The announcers kept probing to make absolutely sure that he was aware that he had dared to use the word Hitler.  The next few days there is a wave of media reaction.  Monday Night Football ends their contract with him (his song "Are you Ready for some Football!" has been the opening theme since 1989).

Who is angry? What is your reasoning for being offended?  There is none.  These words did not offend the people who are freaking out.  They are already offended.  Their whole lives are consciously or sub-consciously dedicated to seeking out reasons to get into an uproar.  This is our puritan culture, the same one that freaked out about comic books or Dungeons & Dragons or Janet's nipple slip.

The righteousness and the vigilance has always been there.  The new element is the personal affront.  Now it's not just morally offensive, it's actually a personal attack against you somehow.  Everything is about you now.  Right or left. It's like a competition between two drama queens about who can be the most personally damaged by somebody else's words.  Nobody gives a shit about Hank Williams Jr., particularly on the left (most people on the left had probably never even heard of him) and now all of a sudden his words are so powerful and dangerous that he must be forced to apologize and his music must not be allowed to be heard!

Bad Logic
The thing that is so insane about all this is that he did not even compare Obama to Hitler.  He compared the association of Boehner and Obama, two people who are supposed to be enemies, to the leader of the Jewish state and the leader of the state that wanted to kill all the Jews, clearly enemies.  Logically, it's the same  as saying "Boehner and Obama playing golf together is like a cat and dog going for a walk together."  He wasn't comparing Hitler to anyone.  But the use of that word is a trigger for the perpetually butthurt.  So all logic is thrown out the window.  The need for the emotional release trumps rationality and clear thought.  This is why America is doomed.  We're stupid and emotional.

Now to really trigger the butthurt
This same phenomenon is what made 9/11 so awesome for most Americans (minus the ones who actually lost somebody).  It was the butthurt they had all been waiting for for so long.  The real shock the followed the attacks was not that somebody had actually dared to attack America.  Americans had been behaving as if they were under attack for a decade already.  The shock was the incredible scale of it.  But the fact of it played right into everyone's desire to be angry and righteous.

And then look at the most famous flawed logic of the 21st century that followed 9/11: the costly, wasteful, politically ineffective invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan which resulted in a stronger, crazier form of Islamic Extremism and an acceleration of America's economic collapse.

The choice that Americans were given was: 1) indulge in your most satisfying, childish emotions of righteous anger or 2) suck it up and make rational decisions about your country's future.  They chose the first option and they are still choosing it.  The media and the politicians are all banking on that choice and that is probably the road we are going to ride right into oblivion.

So keep an eye out for future media-fueled butthurt incidents.  Ask yourself if what was said is truly offensive.  Check the logic of the arguments.  And even if you do find solid logic and a reason to be offended, look deep inside yourself.  Are you really offended?  Or was that emotion already there?

2 comments: said...

This may be your best blog entry yet. I could not agree more.

I write this while listening to Bocephus' Almeria Club Recordings, which is still fantastic, in its own way.

caropops said...

Apart from the rant tone, I think you have incredible insight here. It's actually pretty chilling.