What is it about our culture lately that just loves tearing a human being to pulpy, bloody shreds?
Whatever one may think of the lurid spectacle that is The Wide World of Weiner, the glee demonstrated by the media is the truly disturbing element here.
The fact that Weiner was one of the left's most effective warrior's against the legitimately vile purveyors of rightwing horseshit is now seemingly forever lost in the bloodlust that defines our cultural landscape; the prevailing analyses have more in common with base schoolyard taunts that bred a Dylan Klebold than with straight journalism.
As the media now fully embraces the bully-tactics of the more outrageous quasi-journalistic hecklers, schadenfreude has supplanted integrity. And since so many Americans take their behavioral cues from the sensational shows they watch and the churning, angry propaganda they listen to, classic Judeo-Christian tenets such as humility, self-awareness and mercy have become quaint, corny concepts that elicit a snicker and a roll of the eyes.
How did all this happen? What brought this nation from the beginnings of true social awareness in which people were put before profit to a sneering mob at a tawdry sideshow?
The cultural baseness that we have descended to matches the attack launched by the corporate capitalist crazies who equate higher social consciousness with lower financial gain. By relentlessly flooding our awareness -- and our children's awarenesses -- with tacky techno-baubles and increasingly disturbing sexual imagery, a low-aiming, desensitized mass is created.
But the Weiner episode is only the most recent Lord of the Flies-moment in a long, line of media-led derision. From narcissists like Weiner to truly pathetic creatures like Anna Nicole Smith, there is a bizarre chasing-down of these high-profile fuck-ups to their inevitable humiliating ends. And when these people, architects of their own idiocy they may indeed be, have found themselves hanging from a ledge, why instead of helping them recover do we pry their fingers off?
We'd rather see them splat. Lower aims = higher ratings.
By consistently grinding human responses down to the cowardly and the cruel, the jeering media are digging a hole from which the nation has a decreasing chance of recovery. Americans should not take such pride in excoriating a fellow human being who has revealed himself to be a schmuck (by having revealed his schmuck). As unsavory as The Weinerscapades have been, the utter lack of compassion displayed by the multitude gathered to watch has been way more obscene.
Follow Steven Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheStevenWeber