Once in a while, when I least expect it, a window cracks open in my mind and I suddenly see that some news story, some political event, or some aspect of our culture I stopped noticing is absolutely bizarre. And I feel like I'm dreaming, because this thing--whatever it is--just can't be happening. But it is. The Rolling Stones sang, "Truth is stranger than fiction. We drive through there every day." You could drive a truck through the amount of truly nutty behavior going on that is due south of normal, but is suddenly normative, and therefore somehow no longer eyebrow-raising. We live in an era of mass psychosis. Help.
These twelve symbols of how our society is collapsing are piling up in my brain and I need to spread the pain around. You'll thank me for naming some of these things, trust me.
1. Republicans are politically aligning themselves with circus sideshow freaks that they would not want in the same room with their wives or daughters. They are parading them before their "base" to get equally despicable people stoked up. Take for example the Greg Abbott/Ted Nugent situation. Abbott is running against Wendy Davis for governor of Texas and is inexplicably campaigning with a racist washed-up rocker who sleeps with underage girls, defecated in his pants for a week to avoid the Vietnam War, and called the POTUS a "subhuman mongrel". I won't even get into the whole GOP/Duck Dynasty lovefest.
2. Conspiracy theories are spreading like kudzu. Alex Jones and Phyllis Schlafly are worried that white people (you know, real Americans) are going to be enslaved by immigrants. 99 percent of the world's climate scientists are having secret meetings to coordinate a massive global warming hoax. And, you know...Benghazi. I could probably name a hundred more ludicrous conspiracy theories, but I might have to go live in a cave in Outer Mongolia to escape the agony of hearing about them.
3. Millionaires and billionaires are proving Godwin's Law every day. Their persecution is so ruthless and unfair! People, listen up. The War on the Rich is like the War on Christmas--completely imagined by the stupid, and brilliantly propagandized by their overlords. You'd have to be living in a van down by the river not to hear the petulant yapping of the .01 percent, who haven't the slightest inkling of their own shame.
4. The willingness of the oppressed to defend their oppressors--and vote against their own best interests--is Monty Pythonesque. Here, enjoy this clip from Life of Brian. It explains everything.
5. Unchristian Christians. They pick and choose bible quotes they want to believe, and then after selecting people to hate--I mean, archaic parables to worship--they search for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, to claim that those beliefs are consistent with Christianity. Fundamentalist religion has become "politics in the sky." Moment of silence, please, for the misguided fools who walk among us, and for the holy-roller carnival barkers who are goading them.
6. Old, white, Christian, straight men still maintain a death grip on corporate and political power in this country. There are now more minority babies being born than white babies, and this does not come as welcome news to the establishment elite, who will do anything to stay in power. Lyndon B. Johnson's war on poverty has become today's republican war on the poor, yet there have been no major riots. The absence of riots is baffling. In fact, I am rooting for riots, because they would bring some much-needed instability to this totally preposterous feudal system we live under.
7. Young women on college campuses are as likely to be raped at some point in their four years as they are to come down with the flu in any given year. Let that sink in for a moment. This is so far out the negative asymptote of human decency, it makes my soul bleed.
8. People can now be legally killed for wearing hoodies, playing loud music or throwing popcorn. Gaze upon reality, folks. We're a nation full of gunslinging psychos and the whole world is scornfully laughing at us. If climate change doesn't kill us first, we'll extinguish the population of America bit by bit in schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and parking lots. (I didn't put any links in for #8 because my computer almost caught fire when I googled mass shootings and stand your ground killings.)
9. Fame can now occur for no reason whatsoever. Check out this kid. Why is he famous? Seriously, what is going on?
10. There is a disturbing cultural fixation on women's bodies and faces. Venturing further into the fever-swamp, there is also a ridiculous amount of painful, expensive plastic surgery that women are seeking for their breasts and genitals while they say "I do it for ME." How are so many women such heartbreaking orphans of reality? And you know, it's hard to place all of the blame on them, because it is truly sick that everywhere women turn, they see relentless objectification of female bodies. The new normal is not normal.
11. "Evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are lies straight from the pit of hell." We've got all these people in charge of other people who don't believe in basic science. Ignorance is actually hip for a scary-huge segment of society. Is it such a monumental overask to expect people who are on, say, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to actually understand and respect science?
12. The nexus of anti-abortion legislation, condemnation of birth control, vitriol spewed at single mothers, and cuts to the social safety net affecting predominantly women and children in 2014 is heinous. This just in from the department of the absurd: misogyny has become political ideology. Must! Stay! Optimistic!
Phew, that took a lot out of me. I cannot describe to you the self-control it took to cut it off at twelve. What would you add?
(P.S. I do have my coping mechanisms. I look at baby animal pics on the Internet.)