Sunday, May 08, 2011

We Are Becomming a Nation of Nasty Boy Assholes [Anthony McCarthy]

Hemant Mehta, the owner of the dishonestly named "The Friendly Atheist" blog, has taken it upon himself to publicize the second "Draw Muhammad Day". I wrote a post last year in which I critisized Dan Savage for his part in the first one, it looks like the self-appointed rationalists among us are bent on continuing it for kicks and rallying the aging adolescents who comprise their customer base. The first commenting at Hemant's asserts that Muhammad, as historical a figure as exists, is "a NON-EXISTENT ENTITY". Then the Bright boy goes on to call Muslims "retarded". With few exceptions, that's the level of what passes as discussion on those kinds of blogs.

I'm not going to go through the arguments against taking useless, provocative actions that are known to be useful in rallying violent reactions within Muslim countries. The readers of this blog don't need to have ground level arguments for rational conduct repeated every time. Leave it as said that there's way too much rallying of irresponsible people around the world, it's far too easy for people to gain some perverse kind of status for themselves by doing that.

Thinking about Hemant's post, found through its promotion by another blogger who apparently believes himself to be a figure of mature rationalism, I'm struck by how the internet has enhanced the profile of nasty boy assholism in the general culture. Risking sparking deadly violence among Muslims over the cancellation of an episode of South Park, a really bad, really stupid cartoon dedicated to the basest of 12-year-old boy meanness and stupidity, I really don't know what else to call it but assholism in civil libertarian costume. That it's the self-appointed defenders of rationalism, science and Western civilization who are the ones continuing it is an ironic non sequitur that should really be remarked upon by someone.

Identifying this kind of stuff with boys is entirely justified, though there are some girls involved with it. NOTE: I will not honor anyone who behaves that way with a term denoting adulthood. This kind of thing is just the kind of behavior and thinking that has been an increasing presence in our culture in the post-WWII period, a period of macho assertion unlike even that of the late 1800s which was minimally restrained by the dominant Victorian culture, at least in "mixed company". "Playboy" wasn't called "Playman," cowboy are "boy"s as are the characters in South Park. The celebration of irresponsible, juvenile behavior by males is richly manifested throughout popular culture and a lot of junk that passes as something higher than that, these days. It's easy, it requires no thinking, it is likely to get you a far larger audience than the more demanding effort to act and think like a responsible adult, so it is potentially a popularity and financial boon. In light of that, it's not surprising that many of the most popular blogs pander to the kind of audience that you can get that way.

As the anti-Clinton side of the 2008 election shows, nasty boy assholes are a danger to adult level politics. I was hoping that there would be a reaction to suppress it and tried to encourage that reaction. But the assholes are winning. Sexism is as ubiquitous as it was in 2008, if it is given a focal point for the boys to rally round, they will at the drop of a hat. Racism has certainly gained that kind of focus in Barack Obama since he won the election and the 2010 congress and legislatures are working to destroy all of the progress of the past two centuries. This is a serious problem, one of the most serious problems we have. Nasty boy culture approves of meanness, violence, hatred, bigotry and pointless, nihilistic vandalism. Draw Muhammad Day began with the cover of First Amendment protection. Coming fast on the deadly reaction to the Quran burning by Terry Jones HEAVILY CONDEMNED BY MANY OF THE SAME PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT DMD, promoting other stupid publicity stunts are all the more manifestations of assholism.

Also Note: The identification of civil liberties with this kind of thing really makes you wonder if the civil liberties establishment needs to be put in more responsible hands. Right now they're really acting like a bunch of jerks. I've never known anything good to come from the moral poses of jerks.