The analogy of peeing in a pool, which is gross and actually bad for health so you should not do it, was an analogy I saw pop up occasionally during COVID.
The meaning of it during COVID was the idea that not wearing a mask, and refusing to do so because you feel it is your right of refusal, was like pissing in a public pool because you believe it is your right. I will use this analogy for a bit different political thing, which is the spread of right-wing nonsense to the general public.
Over the last year or so, it seems like I hear right-wing nonsense repeated not by Trumpers, but by people who do not support Trump and probably view themselves are center-left or moderate. One example I encounter from time to time is the outlandish belief that schools are providing litter boxes to students who identify as animals.
This has been widely debunked. It has caused unneeded stress for public school teachers and employees, who have to field angry calls and worse from right-wing nutcases. And yet, it persists, and God help you if you politely say, no, that actually a hoax that was spread on social media by right-wingers. I have noticed online and in person, people get furious at anyone who attempts to point out the truth and rush to defend the person’s false belief. I myself have learned to quietly sit there and feel alarmed.
I also feel like you can talk to any random number of people and about half of them, at least, will hold some silly idea about COVID that got its start in the far right’s feversphere. No doubt there are some people who both hate Trump and also believe that Hunter Biden is proof that Biden himself has a lot of scandals.
This is not a healthy way to run a society, and it is not by accident. Steve Bannon’s “flood the zone with shit” quote was not just something he said, but a strategy. He knows many people are not paying attention and hear things in passing. He also is well aware of this odd tendency, which has been nurtured and fertilized by the far-right, for people to believe someone saying “my butcher’s cousin’s mailperson’s nephew’s barber’s wife’s yoga teacher’s uncle saw it for themselves” over repeated debunkings with facts and reality.
It is playing on human nature and human memory. People will tend to remember bits and pieces of things, and for example, if someone makes an outlandish accusation of you at work, then even if it was disproved, at least some of the people you work with 10 years later will remember it as something you actually did.
It is very important to think critically about all of this stuff, as we are entering another major election cycle in a time when misinformation is rampant and the tools to create more effective misinformation such as artificial intelligence are now here. All of us who are not lost to the fog of Trump must wonder about the roots of such claims, including not just who is making them but also who is believing them. Then, think about why they might be saying that. In the case of the litter boxes in schools nonsense, it was to attack trans and LGBTQ+ folks, much in the same way that “people are going to start marrying their dog” claims sprung up around same-sex marriage.
This stuff is malignant and nefarious. It is understanding in a “that’s what they do” kind of way with Trumpers. It is alarming for non-Trumpers to believe things that are not real. The pee in the pool spreads.
The last word goes to Lucinda Williams.