Cheating

I got a call from a friend yesterday, chiding me on my lack of posting.  All I could say was, "Yeah – John’s been riding me about that too."  What can I say?  It’s been hot and humid, I’ve been unwell, and while I’m back pretty close to normal, I’m still not 100%.  The heat, humidity, and unwell-ness have meant 0 running since mid-month, so that’s another reason for glum, cranky, no-writing-ness.

So, what can I do but a rerun?  I was reminded of the post below the other day, which originally ran on March 29, 2004 and was called "Manning the Ramparts."  Enjoy.

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I’ve been a bit cranky lately ["A bit?!" I hear my husband cry. Okay, very cranky]. Only this morning do I have a specific, topical and timely excuse (you clean coffee out of an iBook keyboard at seven in the morning and see how cheery you are). The rest of it has been a lingering malaise which I vaguely attribute to the cause: Don’t Have A Job Yet. But an e-mail from my mother about this site gives another possible cause. She writes, "The only thing I find scary about these musings of yours is that it’s a pretty coherent picture of a culture gone mad–or perhaps more accurately, gone stupid." In all modesty I would substitute the word "consistent" for "coherent" in that statement – otherwise, I’m not sure I can argue with it.

I hate it when I do or say something stupid (cf. coffee on the keyboard). But what is really maddening is when our culture allows us to defend our stupidity – letting us love it and hug it and call it George. There are whole sections of the culture who look upon intelligence and erudition with suspicion, and there is a particularly insidious way of manning the Ramparts of Stupidity: the mislabeled "opinion."

Consider this quote from a music-loving woman in a Wal-Mart for a story about the store’s new music download service . Neda Ulaby of All Things Considered asked her if she would use Wal-Mart’s new online music purchasing system, and she replied, "In a way, I think that’s stealing. And I feel that anything that is downloaded off the computer from anywhere is stealing. So if I come here and buy it then I’ve paid for it and I’m getting what I paid for. So. That’s how I feel."

So, in this woman’s mind, purchasing is not defined as an exchange of goods or services for money – it’s all about the delivery method. Ulaby blames this woman’s thinking (or lack thereof) on the music industry’s virulent anti-piracy media campaign. But take a closer look at what the woman actually said. She starts out by saying she "thinks" it is stealing, softening it by prefacing her statement with, "In a way…". But then she goes on to defend her position that it is stealing by saying it’s what she "feels." In other words, it’s what she believes – it’s her opinion. So she stands on a factually indefensible position and mans the ramparts by retreating to the language of belief.

Someone (sorry – I have been unable to find a source) said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not everyone is entitled to their own facts." But our society reflexively retreats from arguing with people who use the words believe, feel, opinion, etc. It’s a conversational "home base" from which the factually deficient can say, "Neener, neener, you can’t get me." Opinions are so sacred that they cause us to retreat from argument, even when those "opinions" are really factual inaccuracies in disguise. On second thought, perhaps my mother was right the first time – it is a culture gone mad. And you don’t argue with the clinically insane.

Later on in the segment, the aforementioned music-lover in Wal-Mart does say that she will probably use the download service. If she still believes she’s stealing can she get arrested by the thought police?

Comments

  1. hope you feel better soon. I know exactly what you are going through, I am happy to be on the upside myself. Take your time.

    cicis last blog post..…….Ravelympics 2008…..Overly Ambitious Yet Plausibly Possible

  2. This is the second time I’ve seen someone say “love it and hug it and call it George.” A bit of googling doesn’t bring me anywhere near the origin. Where’s it from?

    Marilee J. Laymans last blog post..What A Day!

  3. http://Jill%20 says

    You know, Marilee – that’s the second time in as many days as I’ve run across someone who didn’t know that phrase (in completely different contexts, as well).

    It’s an old WB cartoon – Bugs Bunny ends up at the North Pole, where he encounters an Abominable Snowman, who nearly smothers Bugs with love, saying something like, “Oh, a widdle bunny rabbit of my very own. I will love him and hug him and call him GEORGE.”

  4. I don’t remember seeing many cartoons when I was young and I definitely don’t remember any specific ones. I do remember Elmer Fudd. I have a bright red Elmer Fudd cap (but with down) that I wear in the worst of the cold.

    Marilee J. Laymans last blog post..More Running Around, First LiveLongNMarry Necklace