In my frequently and mostly profane Twitterings, I occasionally lapse into a fevered Leftist rant about whatever happens to be crawling beneath my skin and depositing its eggs there. I say occasionally because the majority of what I tweet (some would say "bleat") covers subjects near and dear to my sophomoric soul: genitals, bowel movements or just plain obscure references to even more obscure behavior both real and fictional that I (and my cadre of equally depraved followers) find amusing.
But being an avowed Liberal, my knee sometimes jerks up into my lower jaw and I shoot off a politically charged sentiment that expresses my frustration or satisfaction on subjects deep and shallow, but which invariably rankles those who flutter and swoop about the the Twitter landscape who happen to hold opposing points of view.
In a public forum as Twitter is, this is to be expected. And although my chosen profession (Show-off) often puts me in plain view of the public, it does not make me invulnerable to the criticism, both merited and arbitrary, which invariably comes my way. My skin is mostly thick but beneath it flows rivers of saccharine: one lick will tell you if I've been wounded. Or my brand of glitter body cream.
So, when I "retweeted" (for the non-Twitterer that is a sweeter and more appropriately avian way to say "regurgitate") another Tweeter's infamous list of Sarah Palin's congressional "targets", replete with names of her to-be-defeated-at-all-costs opponents highlighted in the cross-hairs of a sniper's scope, I also added a brief satirical preface, a variation of a classic N.Y. Daily News headline which originally included a mock statement from then president Gerald Ford.
That addendum might elicit a "Hah!" or "Huh???". Having assumed the role of low-brow provocateur, I would of course accept either.
Now, this "tweet" was in response to the horrific news of Congresswoman Giffords attack which resulted in her (at this writing) devastating wounds and the tragic deaths of others in attendance.
My point, crudely executed as it may have been, was that the steady stream of invective and high profile braggadocio regularly spewed from redoubtable Fox News bullies who hide behind the appellations "entertainer" or "journalist", as well as the round-the-clock AM radio apparatchiks who deliver same and who are the de facto leaders of the Right Wing, in my opinion, bear much of the blame. And the flip utilization of clearly incendiary imagery, imagery which can easily lodge in the porous intellects of ideological zealots, is used to calculated effect by those in executive positions, such as The Grisly Mama Grizzly herself. With loudly paraded plausible deniability, these smiling sowers of sedition plant seeds of destruction and then back away, letting nature and the odds take their course. "See how broken things are?" they will say, barely hiding their dirty fingers behind their backs.
Now, I am not in possession of a laboratory to conduct experiments which would provide a foundation of proof for my statements; nor do I have access to focus groups or the technology to conduct polls; nor do I possess a mastery of philology as my pal Frank Luntz does (and to whom the Right owes much of its current potency).
No, I am merely one among tens of millions of guinea pigs who twitch daily to the routine shocks administered by a media bent on the cycle of stimulation and exploitation. And I can tell you that the conclusions drawn from the testees is as clear as those from drawn by testors (and you may rightly assume that "testees" was writ purposely to be amusing to the low-brow, juvenile mentality. Or more precisely, me).
I can easily deconstruct the Tweet to explain why I think it's both appropriate and amusing, fully aware of why others might find it to be the exact opposite. And I was indeed fairly besieged by spate of Twitter-critters who found my jab at the former Alaska governor (who I often refer to as, in yet another example of my hilariously sardonic ejaculations, "Quitsy Ross") the height of ass-hattery. Because I had "politicized" the event of Congresswoman Giffords shooting; that I had done "what the Left always does". Moreover, I was (as I have been in the past) called upon to list examples of Right Wing invective, racism, obfuscation, etc. (a tacit and effective bully tactic meant to distract and redirect) which I did to a point. But one might ask to produce universally credible proof of pollution while standing in a smog bank. To the defensive (or culpable) Right Winger the emotion-based gesticulations of the flailing Liberal plaintiffs will never sway them and only serve to illustrate their already disdainful characterizations of the limp-wristed Left.
Immediately after my Tweet and the froth-flecked reverberations its flight inspired, I felt more than twinges of regret that I had roused the beasts which I have sought for years to placate through the uttering of low amusements: I felt genuine anxiety that their ire was directed at me, a Show-off who depends on goodwill to ensure the making of a living (which in this economy is no easy feat. See "Reality Programming and Other Cultural Obstructions") rather than at the inciting incident itself.
But my discomfort was less out of concern for my physical safety (although I'm sure in a few years an "app" will be created in which a spring-loaded boxing glove shoots from a user's smartphone screen) and more for the incredible disingenuousness of the critiques, the bald denial on the part of those who should be rightly ashamed of their silence in the face of their party's implicit participation in the fomenting of such violent acts through the dissemination of violent rhetoric, from dubbing the president an alien-socialist-fascist to invoking biblical fury to denying the right of American citizens a working government. Because it's there. And the guinea pigs know it.
The collateral tragedy is the wasted opportunities within the Twittered discourse (and beyond) which could have been filled with introspection and empathy but which are instead filled with the sheer terror of introspection and empathy: the attacks on hope and change are and have always been desperate attempts to beat back a basic truth at the core of those haters, birthers, deathers and decryers of civility and dividers of unity, an attempt to avoid the truth about themselves as individuals, about where we've found ourselves as a nation and where we need to evolve as an aggregate of both.
Today, my little wise-assed entry into the wild and wooly world of social networking (read: advertising platforms) is the subject of many mainstream columns from both sides of the ideological divide.
Perhaps my little mocking Tweet wasn't so flighty after all.
Follow Steven Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@TheStevenWeber