Some people love to lament the popularity of violent video games and rap music. They view this as a sign of our depravity. Other people love to lament the popularity of NASCAR and professional wrestling. They view this as a sign of our stupidity.
Are they right? Does the popularity of these cultural phenomena emblemize the much wider depravity and stupidity of society as a whole? I shall make no judgment here.
Regardless, I cannot help but notice a spectacle that far outstrips violent video games in terms of depravity and professional wrestling in terms of stupidity. When contrasted with this vulgar spectacle, NASCAR appears highbrow and rap music approaches the stunning beauty and sophistication of Mozart. I write, of course, of presidential elections.
Every few years, a dozen or so sociopaths line up and declare their desire to murder and imprison innocent people. Misty-eyed sycophants (euphemistically referred to as “journalists”) set about to trail the sociopaths across the country in order to “hold them accountable” for truly important things like confusing a popular actor in old Westerns with a (non-government) serial killer. With these courageous, intrepid sleuths in tow, no “gaffe” shall be deprived of its 138 hours of coverage!
All eyes are on Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. They all tell us that they are uniquely qualified for the monumental tasks of running people’s lives and policing the world. Are these people the best and the brightest? Do you trust them when they claim that they will not abuse the power they so desperately desire? Hell, I would not trust any of these people to water my plants while I was on vacation.
If visitors from another planet happened to observe a presidential election, what would they conclude about the human race? Would they conclude that we have hit upon a remarkably ingenious way to select our rulers? Or would they conclude that we are a race of masochists with a deep-seated desire to be ruled by the most ruthlessly depraved people on the planet?
Ah, but it does have a strange sort of logic to it. The state is, after all, an institution that specializes in death, theft and destruction. No decent person would want to head an institution like that. Only the most depraved qualify. If a decent person did somehow stumble into the Oval Office, he would be forced by his conscience to resign after less than a minute.
It is interesting, as an aside, that politicians love to grandstand against violent video games and rap music. They occasionally take breaks from ordering drone strikes on Pakistani wedding parties and executing innocent people to lecture the rest of us about how we need to avoid contaminating our minds with Grand Theft Auto and Kanye West. Moats and beams? Nah, more like up quarks and supermassive black holes.
Violent video games can be very fun. I do not particularly care for rap music, NASCAR or professional wrestling, but I can understand why others find them enjoyable. And what is the best thing about these forms of entertainment? No one is forced to watch or participate and no one is hurt aside from the occasional NASCAR driver who has a wreck or professional wrestler who accidentally gets injured.
I am much more concerned about the people who want to use real violence against real people. And how can we identify the worst offenders? It’s quite simple. They can be found standing behind podiums at presidential debates, being fellated (ahem, I mean, “interviewed”) by sycophantic reporters, and being cheered by throngs of supporters who just can’t wait for their guy to hold the gun instead of some other guy.
And that is truly a sign of the depravity of our society.