This is a "two wrongs make a right" kind of argument. Variations on the theme include such bright discourse as: We should ignore heroin and cocaine because alcohol is worse; we should ignore terrorism because look what we did to the Indians, and we should ignore population growth because look at consumption.
Or at least that's the direction I thought the piece was going to take. Then I read the piece more closely, and realized that in fact this was not writing. This was typing.
A writer generally has something to say. This person has nothing to say about the issue at hand; he is simply spouting nonsense for effect and to achieve a reaction and because he thought he was a laugh-riot.
Or at least his mom told him so.
This is the spoor by which you can track a new animal that has appeared on the American political scene: the young Rooster-tailed Smarmy. They come in male and female form, and can be found in both political parties and appear in a variety of media. They can best be described as "monkey writers" who have very little to say, but can throw feces at a fan and admire the splat on the wall.
These are the folks like Anne Coulter and Michelle Malkin who simply write or talk for reaction. Anyone can do this. All you have to do is pick a topic likely to piss people off and get them OUTRAGED. Try to make sure the sentences have a subject and a verb. And then say it as smirky and snarky as possible. You do not need to know anything or even make sense. After all, you are not in the serious business of trying to pass on information, make public policy, or do good. You are not a carpenter trying to build a barn door, you are the jackass trying to kick one down.
Here's a list of possible "starter topics":
- We should let AIDS patients die and kill off all the old and sick people in nursing homes because giving health care to the young and healthy is a far better use of public resources. People have a "duty to die."
- We should sell the dogs killed in U.S. shelters to Asian countries, thereby turning a problem into a profit.
- We should send nuclear and chemical waste to Burkina Faso, since those people will probably be dead from dysentery before they are dead from radiation and cancer.
- We need to put all the Muslims in the U.S. in barbed wire camps, just like we did the Japanese, and for the very same reason.
- Catholicism is a stupid religion because it quietly condones pedophilia and openly condones cannibalism.
- There is no difference between eating a chicken and eating a child.
- The best way to reduce gun violence on college campuses is to encourage kids and teachers to openly carry semi-automatic pistols on campus.
- Drunk driving laws are nothing more than nanny-state stupidity, and should be repealed.
- Arresting the head of the ACLU in Virginia for buying and trading videos showing the violent rape of little girls is a violation of this man's First Amendment rights.
- Who carries how many American soldiers die overseas? These kids signed up for military service voluntarily, and if they are too stupid to stay out of the military and away from a bullet or bomb, then Darwin says they should stay out of the gene pool as well.
Any of these piss you off? Did one or two make you laugh or shock you? Was there one you almost agreed with?
Well there you go! You see, then, why they are good little topic starters.
And it hardly matters whether you are joking or not, whether you can develop the idea, or whether it makes sense. No research is needed to write these pieces; just start typing and keep your eye on the prize.
Remember, you really don't care about the issue. You really have nothing substantive to say. You are not even a liar. You are a bullshit artist flinging poo against the wall in order to admire the pattern. You are like a troll on the Internet, but instead you are a troll on the op-ed page.
A liar actually cares what the truth is, if for no other reason than to stay away from it.
A bullshit artist -- a feces flinger of the Rooster-tailed Smarmy variety, does not care either way. The goal is not to move a policy position, it is to incite and provoke. It is to say: "Look at me. Treat my typing as an equal or deserving of more time than the intelligent and carefully fenced policy positions put out by people that have actually done the research. "
And then, if the cross-fire is too withering, you say, "Hey, I was just joking" or that wonderful all-purpose catch-basin: "It was not really serious; just a piece designed to make you think."
The Rooster-tailed Smarmy struts like a game cock, but in fact, he or she is mosty closely aligned with another species commonly found in the political forest: the Pander-bear.
While a serious public policy ponderer will be looking to find common ground in order to build a consensus in order to take action to solve a problem, the panderer is looking for cheap laughs and quick applause from one side or the other.
At its heart, the Pander-bear is simply a show-off. They may be a smart person, but they have allowed their smartness to devolve into mere cleverness.
And so they pick a side and play the fool for it, thereby forcing greater division and making public policy consensus more difficult.
It is fashionable to belabor the poor quality of political discourse in this nation and to bemoan the lack of political action. But if you insist on feeding Pander-bears and Rooster-tailed Smarmies, you are likely to get a lot more of them.
Remember that point as we head into the election season.