Glenn Beck


 

P4114682

Image by Elisabeth Moore via Flickr

 

Jennier Petkov has the dubious honor of being the 85th most googled term this afternoon thanks to her stunningly self-absorbed Housewife of New Jersey via Michigan turn on a local news channel.

In case you’ve missed Jennifer, she’s the trending troll de jour due to her harpy-ish harassment of her neighbor’s dying grand-daughter, and her relentless campaign to mock the death of the little girl’s mother.

Mother and daughter carried the deadly Huntington’s gene. The mother passed away at 24 and the now seven-year old daughter is in the last stages of a disease that eats away brain tissue.

What would drive someone to mock and torment the terminally ill?

It’s the culmination of a two-year feud that began when Jennifer mistakenly believed that her neighbors had deliberately excluded her son from a birthday party. I believe there was a bouncy house involved. The Trojan War and WWI were bouncy house snubs, I believe.

Regardless, the battle was afoot and has trampled all over Jennifer’s neighborhood and with a little help front Photoshop, she took it to Facebook even.

Enter the press. And cue the clever pot-stirrer who uploaded this clip to YouTube:

My favorite part … aside from the head bobbing – their heads always bob – why? … is when the near speechless reporter asks Jennifer why she would do such a thing.

Her answer was basically because she could and it was fun.

“Take it or leave it,” she says as her final justification.

And here is where she is you.

Just like Christine O’Donnell is you.

And Glenn Beck is you.

And that incredibly pouty, spoiled football player’s wife on The View is you.

The feeling that personal entitlement is all and that change, or meeting half way, is for the weak, those who aren’t strong enough (or too cognizant of the interconnectedness of humanity).

I wouldn’t defend Jennifer, but she is hardly an anomaly. The people bashing her today are Jennifer. Those who dedicated hate pages across the Social Mediascape to shame her and “give her a dose of her own medicine” are her too.

Jennifer’s mean girl ways are a timely find. Bullying is all over the news. Much hand-wringing and wondering why.

But there is nothing to wonder about. Bullying is part of who we are. It’s steeped in our culture of “take me or leave me”. The idea that we are free to impose, judge, forcibly coerce and bare our teeth like the Darwinian creatures we are is exactly what makes it possible for teens to mimic their same-sex fearing parents when they pick at their gay classmates until the whites of their bones show.

Sarah Palin‘s eye rolls. Rachel Maddow‘s contempt. Bill O’Reilly’s brow-beating. Jon Stewart‘s mockery. It’s Jennifer with a polish and book smarts, but it’s Jennifer no less. We are a nation of bullies. Our politics, our religions, our social fabric really is based on the idea that if the cause is perceived righteous – anything that has to be said or done to get the masses to line up and bleat is justified.

Just last evening, my oldest nephew pulled a “take it or leave it” on me. He’d spent the day before stirring the family crisis pot with teen angst and over-reaction that culminated in him “running away” for the night to make his point. When I talked with him the next day – after all the adults had made contact, assessed the actual facts and were on the same united page – he admitted that perhaps he’d gotten a bit overwrought,

“But it’s who I am,” he said, “and I can’t change it.”

I disagreed, and I still do. People are who they want to be. Their words and actions are who they are. Hurtfulness, manipulations that add up to bullying behavior aren’t justified by the ends no matter how heinous or righteous the cause. Jennifer was wrong, but the people who are harassing her right now are wrong too. They are bullies too.

Jennifer’s cause was the selfish preservation of face. She over-reacted two years ago but couldn’t admit it. She fell back on learned behavior that is not so different from what many people do on smaller scales in their places of work and within their families or social networks.

But any time words – or worse – are used to twist facts or to wound, it’s bullying. We Americans are mean girls at our core.  Hypocrites. Just like Jennifer.

“Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.” – author unknown

Comments are now closed.


 

Drinking and/or working.

Image by parislemon via Flickr

 

Do you recall the cutesy coy Breast Cancer Awareness meme that swept Facebook last October during the annual “save the boobies” month that the Pink People Awareness brigade foist on us year after year?

The idea was that only women (‘cuz we have 3D breasts is my understanding and men don’t) would know the meaning of the mysterious status updates that ran along the lines of “mine is polka-dotted and lacy” or “I have a sea-foam green one”.

Though the women who participated were referring to the colors of their bras, the updates were meant to titillate and confuse men. Because that’s what women do best, right and why God bothered to create us (as an afterthought, I might add) in the first place.

I didn’t participate for two reasons. The first is that I don’t wear a bra. I didn’t burn it or anything, and it’s got nothing to do with any of my feminist tendencies. I just don’t like them. The other reason is that it was stupid.

Why does breast cancer awareness have to be titillating (well aware of the pun – move along)? Or pink-tinged? Or based in lament about the loss of diseased flesh that happens to fit inside the totally male invention of the bra?

And while I am here, why are my breasts more important than my lungs or my ovaries or my colon?

I ranted a bit about it at the time. Was dismissed as an old lady feminist killjoy and moved on … to this year when I received this message:

Really? This is the path to female domination of the world? Facebook meme’s that are the social media equivalent of those grade school “girls’ only” clubs we once thought would secure us a little control in a boys’ only world?

Power and influence. Dare to dream.

Maybe someone will blog it for the Huff’po and it will become a trending topic in the Twitsphere. If that happens then Jon Stewart is sure to make snide comments about it in his opening and Fox news will toss it to those morons on their morning show, which means that the ladies on The View will have to cackle over it for a few minutes, pondering the social influence and reach of women today.

Because as we all know conquering web space is … exactly nothing.

Will it give us parity in Congress? Abolish the double standard? Free us from the tyranny of photo-shopped female images or frozen foreheads?

I think not. Though I could be wrong even as I doubt that highly.

The reason this type of schoolgirl nonsense isn’t power is best illustrated by the fact that men don’t similarly engage in fluffy social media attention-drawing antics – unless they are Ashton Kutcher.

Would men pass around a super double-secret FB message instructing each other to leave a cryptic status update?

Hey Guyfriends! We’re going to play a girls’ not allowed status update meme where we name our favorite place to ogle women (or men if you orient that way). Just update your status with something like: I only do it at the grocery store. And don’t add anything more.  It will drive those out of the loop (the loop being men and really, does anyone else truly need to be “in the loop”?) crazy. Most importantly – don’t tell. We’ll wait until the MSM picks up on this and then only our most important members of the brotherhood (not you Ashton Kutcher!) can stand spokesmen for us all.

This is a way to demonstrate what a force to be acknowledged even more than the force we are. So get that update active!

And then it would sweep the Internet until President Obama updated with “I only do it in The White House” and Glenn Beck – who only does it in the sanctity of his own married bed – outs the meme by wondering which intern Obama was referring to and then it’s a blue dress hunt circa 1997 all over again.

If women wanted to flex a rusty muscle, why don’t they simply stop shopping for a week? Or even a day.  Say the day after Thanksgiving. They could just stay home.

Or they could declare October to be a ladies’ holiday.  No work.  No parenting.   No transporting, laundry or sex*.  Every day we’d met up for coffee and head off to free yoga classes before having dinner out with friends and coming home to nestle in our snuggies and watch whatever reality horror is masquerading as television.

Maybe we should refuse to vote for male candidates. We will only vote for the woman on the ballot and if there isn’t one, we’ll write one in.

That’s power.

But instead, we’re going to “tease” men with not so vague sexual innuendo, give ourselves a collective pat (on the head) and call ourselves “clever”.

The women of Stepford couldn’t have been trained any better than we are.

*The sex strike thing is an old idea that dates back to a play from Ancient Greece called the Lysistrata. In it, women stage a martial bed boycott to try and force their husbands to give up on a war they have been waging. Though they initially stand together and nearly succeed, in the end, one of them breaks ranks and the rest soon follow and the men go back to being “men”. It’s interesting in that the men at first don’t take the women seriously and believe that they will give up their strike because – being women – they aren’t single-minded and focused enough and that they ultimately can’t put aside their individual wants for the good of the group – which proves to be true.


Something happened last week that made me stop, again, and ponder the American landscape. More specifically, the people who litter the landscape with their ignorant misguided views on the economy, health care reform, Sarah Palin and President Obama – just to pick a few out of the multitude of things they whine worry about.

First, I got unfriended on Facebook. Again? That’s hardly new and earth-shattering. True, many of my old high school acquaintances find my political and social views to be of the radical bra burning sort. Given that I don’t wear bras, perhaps I am more old school femi-nazi than I think, but my position is that they are willfully misinformed wusses. Fox News is no substitute for reading and thinking, and in these interesting times, only the informed and forward thinking are going to emerge the least scathed. Our old Civics teacher, the wonderful Kenny Herbst, must rue the time he wasted trying to instill democratic principles in some of us.

My old acquaintance is a tea-bagging sort though he lazily tweets the revolution via his home page rather than take the time away from his middle class pursuits to walk Glenn Beck’s talk.

Like so many of what passes for middle class Americans anymore, he views life entirely from the viewpoint of a toddler.

How does this affect me? What’s in it for me? If my life isn’t in a constant state of material growth – then my government isn’t doing its job! Where’s the expansion? What happened to my prosperity?! It’s the liberals’ fault! Socialism, Will Robinson!!  Socialism! Vote them out! Vote them out!!

I am too harsh? Here is a quote I found via Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish. Jill Dorson is a writer, and a former small business owner  thanks to the recession, who voted for Obama and now has buyer’s remorse.

It was clear after just 90 days what a mistake I’d made. My taxes have gone up and my quality of life has gone down. Hope has given way to disgust and I see now that change is simply a euphemism for “big government.”

Like many others, my view is narrow. I vote for the candidate I think will be best for me. I often define myself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. But above all, I want to feel safe and I don’t want to feel that I am being ripped off. I want a president who inspires me and cares about my contribution to the fabric of the country. I want a president with experience and savvy, a Commander in Chief who puts our country and its citizens first.

I only hope the Republicans can find him the next time around.

Sullivan deemed her a big baby. One of the hordes of the “gimme, gimme” types that make up the lunatic fringe that passes for the Republican party and infects many Independents these days. Newsweek wonders if Americans haven’t become “ungovernable”, a population screaming for change as long as it comes at someone else’s expense.

Ask them not to do for their country because the country exists only to do for them. And that’s not socialism. No sir. Funds and programs directed at the unworthy are socialist. Tax cuts for smallish sized businesses and hard-working middle class ( it still puzzles me how they can ALL be middleclass) people is the American capitalistic way of the Founding Fathers. It says so in The Constitution.

Sullivan points out that there isn’t much one can say to people who view the current economic realities from an enraged teenaged-like narcissism. And Dorson admits that she is just like most people in that she really only cares about how things affect her and what is important to her. Like most of my fellow adults, she has no concept of the greater good or that the long-term is just that. Long.

I am no fan of Obama. I was a Clinton supporter. I still resent the way the Obama campaign never made a play for us, simply expecting us to suck it up and follow him. I never for a minute expected him to swoop into Washington and change the system. The White House changes its occupants, not the other way around. But he was all there was by way of viable options, and I hoped he’d be more of a leader than he’s been so far. Set an agenda. Follow through on more than a few of his promises. If this were “normal” times, I would not be worried. It can take time to find one’s presidential feet, but he has never had the time luxury, and he’s rapidly approaching “time’s up”, I fear.

Why?

Because of my former FB buddy and people like Julie. They don’t have the stamina required to adjust to harder times that are likely to deteriorate a lot bit more in the coming year.

FB Bud threw regular status bar fits about gasoline prices. Clueless about what drives prices, or that gasoline is not oil’s only end product, all he knew was that the cost curtailed his leisure spending. The boat couldn’t be out on the river as often and visits to the casinos were less frequent. His middle-class entitlement lifestyle took a hit.

It was Obama’s fault or Nancy Pelosi’s or the health care reform bill, that “no one needs or wants because health care is something a person needs to take care of himself”. And when he wasn’t thanking God for Glenn Beck and the access to real news at Fox, he harassed those who supplied him with facts by labeling them liberals, whether they were or not. Being informed is a one of the Four Horsemen of the Socialist Apocalypse. News gleaned from factual reporting might be contagious and spoil the milk or kill the neighbor’s cow. Salem nonsense from a constituency that thinks Dan Brown is a great novelist.

Simply being realistic and pragmatic marks a person as liberal or socialist. Or a Nazi.

Expecting the government to keep up entitlements like the Bush tax cuts, Medicare, Social Security or that the states  support services without raising taxes is different. Different indeed. American Infantile Entitlement Syndrome.

This was Sullivan’s summary:

What you have here is big babyism. After the worst downturn in memory, bequeathed a massive and growing debt, two failing wars, a financial sector threatening to bring down the entire economy, Obama has betrayed this person by preventing a Second Great Depression.

We will hear more of these non-sequiturs; the 24-hour news cycle prevents any memory past the last six months; the easy, lazy meme of Obama-the-lefty will be pressed home by FNC/RNC and the MSM will grab onto it because it’s a narrative they can understand and that helps insulate them from charges of bias. That none of this has any direct relationship with economic and political reality is barely relevant.

Tea-baggers, Palinites, ordinary “folk” who believe that if their fair share is dwindling than somehow the system has abandoned them and gone socialist. Americans have gone toddler. Look for it in the straight to DVD section soon.