Now, in the book's introduction, Mr. Barry writes that he wrote his first list of bad in 1995, and he still received hate mail about it as late as two years later. He thought this was odd, given that his article covered domestic politics, world affairs, the state of the family, and other articles with a gravity that was belied by the often puerile dialogue. Not a single thing that he wrote though, would match the vitriol that he received from fans of "Achy Breaky Heart," and "MacArthur Park," because diehard fans of Billy Ray Cyrus and Jimmy Webb were apparently real things. Christ, the nineties were a weird time.
Ten years after I received that book, I read an article in Newsweek, written by Jonathan Tuttle, a conservative columnist who was regrettably parsimonious with the word "weenie." Tuttle took a break from his usual political commentary to write an important call to arms against what he called the "national crisis gripping the country" of... Americans wearing Crocs. The response that Tuttle felt during the next few weeks was, according to him "intense," and he received numerous death threats. Apparently, fans of Crocs are just as real as fans of Billy Ray Cyrus, though I have a suspicion that I'm dealing with some serious overlap here.
|It is also very possible that the outrage could be the result of several thousand letters written by this guy.|
|Pictured: Serious Social Commentators, according to A&E|
(Credit: Washington Post)
More locally, the blue-shirted brownshirts of the University at Buffalo's Division of Student Affairs are committing their own assault on the First Amendment. The pro-life organization, the UB Students for Life, an organization that has never engaged in political hyperbole of any kind is suing the University, which had the unmitigated temerity to charge the club a fee for police security at a contentious abortion debate. The University cited a policy requiring a police presence at any large, or controversial event. The Students for Life contends that the declaration of the event as "controversial," was arbitrary, and that the University is putting a price on free speech - as the University would cancel the event without a police presence. I can't imagine why the event would have been deemed controversial in the slightest - even after a UB Professor was arrested for swearing at SFL members outside the groups tasteful display of mutilated fetuses the day before (I don't even need to quantify the volume of tears shed by the Students for Life over the infringement on her First Amendment rights... but rest assured... it was... low).
|Pictured: Mature, Rational Discussion|
There's something much more troubling at hand here than logical inconsistency. God knows that we've seen enough of that out of the frothing mouths of both parties. The problem is that getting upset over these utterly inconsequential outrages distracts our national discourse from very real issues that threaten freedom in the United States. Getting upset over Phil Robertson's comments/suspension, or a six hundred dollar security bill at a contentious debate does exactly as much to help the country as taking a passionate defense of Crocs. Maybe if Phil Robertson likened Justice Kennedy to a "drunkard" or a "terrorist," we'd have a real conversation about the castration of the Voting Rights Act earlier this year. Or if we had a reality show called "Flyboys" on A&E (Author's Note - You're welcome A&E, I expect royalty checks before the next academic year), which followed drone pilots and allowed American viewers to watch in real time as a Yemeni wedding was blown off the face of the Earth, we as a society may start paying attention to extrajudicial wars being waged by the Obama administration against what seems to be everybody.
The fact is, that there are very real, and very scary threats to our liberty both at home and abroad. None of those threats come from reality stars, or security bills. We in the Republican Party run the risk of being painted as a the Party That Cried Wolf if we react to every passing (or even perceived) ideological slight by cranking the manufactured outrage machine to eleven. It makes us look like easily offended, easily distracted... and just kind of pathetic. In a word, it's turning us into Weenies.
So, if my friends the Far Right are having problems thinking of a New Year's resolution, I've got one ready-made for you. Stop being weenies.