Scapegoating: Shit is Fucked Up and Bullshit

Via the Crack Den, here’s about the best encapsulation of where we are right now I’ve yet read:

More widely, it raises some troubling questions about the way that the media and politicians talk about poverty and benefit claimants. While outrage has, rightly, been focused on the fact that Thorpe was misrepresented since she is not unemployed, that is not the only problem with the interview. It perpetrates lazy assumptions about single mothers: scroungers who should hide themselves away and not ask for anything. On Twitter, Thorpe says that in the full interview, Stratton asked her why she chose to keep her child. Is that ever an acceptable question to ask someone, particularly when the reasoning behind it is so clearly class-based? Stratton is clearly pushing an agenda, and has no interest in the fact that in this case, the issue is the extortionate rents charged by private landlords.

So here’s about where we are:

If you live with your parents past age 18, you’re a lazy entitled “millenial” brat who has been coddled by bad parenting until you’re unable to function in the real world.

If you move out, but take advantage of perfectly legal rent aid to do so, you’re a scrounger.

If you have an abortion, you’re a terrible person who deserves to be punished.

If you keep your child, you’re just some freeloading welfare queen who popped out a baby to stay on welfare.

If you dare talk about the cost of things being too high for you to afford, you should have made better choices in life.

If you don’t try to have luxuries, you’re a lowlife slob.

If you get those luxuries, like buying an air conditioner or a microwave, you’re obviously not poor so shut up about your problems.

If you have health insurance, you’re freeloading off healthier people who have to pay for your birth control.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’re just sucking up emergency room dollars and are part of the reason costs are so high in the first place.

You know, all day long I read one half-educated rant after another, about pressing 1 for English, about drug testing for welfare, about how anyone with a pension is somehow kidding, about how kids today are lazy and entitled, about who didn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance right, about how everybody is getting away with something, and none of it’s based on any kind of data at all. None of it holds up to even the most casual question along the lines of, “Where did you read that?” None of it is backed up by any kind of numbers whatsoever, by anything more than a chain-letter anecdote and a glib “see, I said it, huh?” crack.

It’s just this angry mishmash of stuff everybody is doing wrong, all the time. It’s just one excuse after another to flail around being pissed at the world, because somebody somewhere is fucking things up. Somebody somewhere is having a baby they “can’t afford” and somebody somewhere is buying a house that’s really too much for them. Somebody somewhere is doing something wrong. We know this, we know it in our bones, and so we present to each other these endless examples of all this terrible injustice, and none of it matters one bit.

We’re told all day long that we’re too partisan, too “divided,” too angry, too strident. Then we turn on the news and we’re told we have to have an opinion about some missing child, somebody’s marriage, some kid’s wild party. Vote in this poll! Tell us what you think! Talk back, shout out, speak up!

When real things come along — should nurses’ and firefighters’ pension funds be raided so that politicians can keep giving their friends “tax incentives” just to throw one out there — we don’t know how to talk about it at all, except in this loose-cannon fashion that admits no fact and only uses punchlines. That people need rent assistance, that landlords are often gouging people, that if you want people to be out on their own the law of large numbers says some of them are gonna need a push and if you think you never will you’re being dishonest about your own past and blind about your own future, that’s not an argument we’re having.

The argument we’re having is whether this girl is scrounging or not, because that’s something very specific we can debate, without ever once addressing that shit will be just as fucked up and bullshit if she moves back in with her mom and ceases bothering us with her need to be a real person in the world and not something we can use to prove a point. If suddenly everybody stopped having to press 1 for English (and more often than not, morons, it’s press 1 for Spanish, okay?) that would alter our country’s demographics not one bit.

Here’s the secret: Shit IS fucked up and bullshit. Somebody somewhere is doing something wrong. But it’s not some girl who moved out on her own and broke absolutely no laws to do so. It’s not some company making the decision to let its Spanish-speaking customers have a fucking dial-in menu. It’s not some kid wearing his pants the “wrong” way. It’s that when we looked for injustices, these were the greatest we found. When we looked for outrages, these were what we decided would serve. When we looked for causes, we were told these were the equivalent: How much Kim Kardashian spent on her wedding, and where we could sign an online petition declaring that Casey Anthony was a shitty whore.

A.

6 thoughts on “Scapegoating: Shit is Fucked Up and Bullshit

  1. Jay in Oregon says:

    So here’s about where we are:
    If you live with your parents past age 18, you’re a lazy entitled “millenial” brat who has been coddled by bad parenting until you’re unable to function in the real world.
    If you move out, but take advantage of perfectly legal rent aid to do so, you’re a scrounger.
    If you have an abortion, you’re a terrible person who deserves to be punished.
    If you keep your child, you’re just some freeloading welfare queen who popped out a baby to stay on welfare.
    If you dare talk about the cost of things being too high for you to afford, you should have made better choices in life.
    If you don’t try to have luxuries, you’re a lowlife slob.
    If you get those luxuries, like buying an air conditioner or a microwave, you’re obviously not poor so shut up about your problems.
    If you have health insurance, you’re freeloading off healthier people who have to pay for your birth control.
    If you don’t have health insurance, you’re just sucking up emergency room dollars and are part of the reason costs are so high in the first place.

    I just do not understand how someone can hold most or all of these opinions at the same time, and not be certifiable.

    Like

  2. Gummo says:

    A typically beautiful rant, A., and true as fuck.
    Our entire culture has become a three-card monte game, with the house constantly pointing and shouting, “Look! Over there!” so it can palm the cards and take our money. And just about everyone falls for it; the ones who don’t — someone like Chris Hayes, say — get denounced in the loudest, crudest terms possible.

    Like

  3. Escariot says:

    Truth. Eloquent as always. I love it here.
    I lull myself to sleep at night with the thought (admittedly wishful thinking) that the majority of folks listen to the crap we hear and make grounded assessments about the one doing all the screeching.
    That there are people who when the fucked up and bullshitness gets beyond the beyond (see Trump who continues to suck oxygen just to keep screaming “look at me look at me look at me”) finally say “Donald, you’re beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you.” Maybe, just maybe, we are getting somewhere.

    Like

  4. Doc says:

    I keep thinking about this post and how essentially we’ve become a nation of xenophobes. If it ain’t me or the people I see as being like me, they’s wrong in the head.
    I remember seeing a Mad Magazine piece a number of years ago on why you can’t win with a bigot and it was stuff like this:
    In a baseball game with 2 outs in the ninth:
    “Look, Jones is coming up!”
    Bigot- “You can never trust a n##### in tense situation.”
    “HOLY COW! He hit a homer!”
    Bigot- “Of course he did. They’re strong as hell from living in the jungle all that time.”
    Basically, people are like that today, except with just a slight bit more polish. Sigh.

    Like

  5. someofparts says:

    This morning at the ATM I was listening to the woman behind me talk about Clint Eastwood’s daughter like it was some neighbor she was gossiping about.

    Like

  6. Chuckchuck says:

    Passionately written, Twain sized sentences. A wins the internet.

    Like

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