Picking up from last week, the rest of the “whys:”
We profess family values but turn a blind eye to malnourished children and their sexually active siblings and parents the world over, if their religious beliefs don’t square with ours.
We’re against terminating pregnancies but also oppose the use of effective means of preventing them.
We’re quick to defend unborn children but turn our backs on those already among us in greatest need—and their mothers.
We squander tens of billions of tax dollars fighting a losing war on outlawed drugs, while alcohol and tobacco interests and their advertisers make much more than that pushing “legal” drugs that are far more dangerous. (Add the billions for related health care treatment and in lost productivity and we’re talkin’ real money here.) Oh, I almost forgot: Please drink responsibly! And smoke only in designated areas!
Snorting a white powder will earn a white suburban kid six months’ unsupervised probation; smoking a crystallized rock of the same substance gets an inner-city black kid 15-25 years in a maximum-security prison. We call this “justice.”
We take our pets to yoga classes, while our children scarcely get off the sofa. We warehouse our elderly, put the mentally ill on the streets, and lock up nonviolent drug offenders—all in the name of “compassionate conservatism.”
We celebrate undereducated heiresses, whose only apparent talent is to spread their legs at the slightest provocation, and award them television shows at exorbitant recompense. We call them “actresses.” Poor women who exhibit the same traits—and who, by the way, are obviously better actors—we arrest and fine (or jail). We call them “whores.”
Our twenty-somethings, desperate to be “fashionable,” spend thousands to dress themselves and still look like college freshmen on laundry day.
Our children wear the same, dumb-ass “rebel” clothes we wore at that age—but at premium designer and department-store prices.
We’re gobbling up “retro” athletic shoes—which is code for a lower-quality knockoff that resembles one sold 20 years ago but retails for ten times the price. (Through it all, “Chuck Taylors” are still about $30.)
We spend much more to lock up drug addicts and teach them to become violent than it would cost to feed, house, treat, and educate them.
We talk solemnly about amending our federal Constitution—the heart of our liberties—to deny homosexuals access to a “sacred” social convention that heterosexuals abuse so freely it fails more than half the time. At the same time, we also deny them by other means the same economic rights we straights get by buying a license and saying “I do.”
We are so ignorant about how we govern ourselves that, every decade or so, some political science doctoral candidate proves it by taking the Bill of Rights and reading it to mall shoppers, who think it’s the manifesto of some international cabal.
By rushing to “the man in the street” for an uninformed opinion and obsessing over polls, rather than spending more to dig out the story or examine the issues, our “news” gatherers have elevated rank ignorance to a social virtue. “What do you know?” has been replaced by “How does that make you feel?”
One of our highest-rated forms of entertainment is televising the drunk, desperate, and overweight getting run down, roughed up, and arrested by the uniformed, armed, and overweight.
The guardians of our airwaves found the (accidental, intentional—pick one) exposure of a female breast for a few milliseconds an offense against common decency. Apparently, the 10 minutes of female debasement and crotch-grabbing that preceded it was not—nor was the surrounding 60 minutes of hopped-up men in pre-Renaissance armor attacking each other at high velocity for money. Nor is the hour-after-hour, day-after-day assault on the sensibilities called “commercial network programming.” Nor is the fact that a half-dozen combines profit obscenely from exploiting a publicly owned resource while our “independent watchdog” barks at the likes of Howard Stern and PBS cartoons.
We’re trying and punishing the soldiers accused of torturing detainees while we’ve ignored their commanders, overlooked their intelligence-based trainer-supervisors, and promoted the legal architects of the policy.
The pathology of a violent crime is newsworthy only when the victim or the accused is a celebrity—or the media decide one, the other, or both should be.
We venerate our right to trial by “a jury of our peers” but blindly subsidize media tendencies, rationalized by “the public’s right to know,” that make selection of twelve unbiased individuals impossible.
We concentrate our attention and wildly disproportionate resources on a few notorious criminal trials, while ignoring a system of arrest, prosecution, and defense that would collapse without cynical, discriminatory, and sometimes corrupt plea bargains.
While we glorify ourselves as the fountainhead of electoral democracy, we have been twice persuaded by 30 and 60-second commercials that a man who is a cipher for monied interests, who has trouble forming coherent sentences without prompting, and whose only galvanizing life experience (by his own accounts) is substance abuse, is a man of deep conviction and unshakeable principle.
We proselytize “Duty, Honor, Country” but twice elected a man who shirked real military service and who oversaw the slander of two combat-tested and highly-decorated competitors.
We listen patiently as the same greedy, soulless interests—who, by feeding and capitalizing on our appetite for debt and excess, made the system necessary the last time they crashed the stock market—propose to “fix it” by investing our “nest eggs” guess where? (And for a fee, of course).
Thanks to the same identity of interests, who spend billions to glorify consumption and make it ridiculously easy to indulge it through credit, Congress has made it harder for the indebted to recover from it.
Next Week: Olympians.