Political Absurdity Begins In Grade School
Some of you may be wondering how we got here.
I have a hunch, and I want it spread far and wide. This knowledge needs to be universal. Any time you read a new meme or tweet or slanted story (especially one you agree with), this bit of info should be standing on your shoulder to remind you of how we got here.
With any luck, it’ll be the Teflon™ that keeps the hyperbole from sticking.
All Things Lead To The Bomb
A while back I had the “pleasure” of judging a high school debate tournament at Harvard. Spoiler alert: it was as near to a personal hell as I’d ever imagined. Picture a parade of stressed-out teenagers explaining why everything from UAV’s to relaxing trade restrictions on China would lead to the extinction of all life on Earth.
No, seriously. That’s where every line of reasoning ended up. But here’s the part that you need to remember:
In most debate classes, they teach these kids to go straight for the “GNW” card (Global Nuclear War) so that their arguments will carry more weight.
I know, I just lamented hyperbole three paragraphs ago, but I’m not making this up. I wish I were.
- Repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will literally cause World War III.
- Hillary Clinton’s email server will literally cause World War III.
- Moving the Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp from “threatened” to “endangered” will literally cause World War III.
You get the picture. If I had a dollar for every kid that mentioned The Bomb that day, I could have bought an actual nuclear bomb.
Six Degrees of Extinction
Now remember: Your congressmen, senators, presidents, political strategists, attorneys, and even investigative journalists probably went through debate classes as a child. This sprint-to-the-extreme mindset has been institutionalized for a long time. Is anyone surprised that all we ever see in public discourse are scare tactics and exaggeration?
It’s not debate, it’s the Nuclear Holocaust Kevin Bacon Game. Every one of those kids played the same angle: go from initial argument to the destruction of all mankind in as few steps as reasonably possible. Why? Because that’s what they’re taught to do.
The only difference between high school debate and what we see every election year are that the kids are forced to do exhaustive research before they open their mouths.
Captain Ebel’s Advice
Remember this lesson. Spread it far and wide.
Make it the piece of grit that irritates your brain whenever you read a political story on Facebook.
Remember what all these political assclowns running for office or writing op-ed pieces have been trained to do since they were 13 years old- scare you into believing the worst possible outcome.
And then… take a deep breath and walk it back a few steps. Remember that fear makes you easy to control, but facts make you powerful. If they’re not giving you any facts, all they’re doing is whining like a stressed-out teenager.